Dual Agency in California
When I take a new listing, my clients are usually surprised to hear that I won’t represent a Buyer should I be asked, except in one single circumstance.
In a Real Estate transaction, although it’s perfectly legal in California to represent both the seller and buyer in a single transaction, it’s not exactly ethical. The seller’s goal and the buyer’s goal are opposite and it’s not possible to represent both equally. The seller wants the highest price and the best terms and the buyer wants the lowest price and the best terms, so how does a single agent satisfy both? They can’t.
In California, I have a fiduciary duty to my clients when I take a listing (my lawyer friends from other states find that hilarious since it’s not true in any other state,) to represent their best interests when selling their property. The only way I will also represent a buyer in the same transaction is if the buyer willingly gives the seller everything they want. Even then I don’t like doing it because then the buyer is not best represented.
But..won’t the seller save on commission if he/she allows the same agent to represent both sides? Perhaps a small amount but in almost every situation the seller would end up with MORE in the end of the sale by paying a full commission and not using the same agent to represent the other side. Yep, other side..think divorce, think basketball team…if you wouldn’t use the same attorney or the same coach for the opposing side….don’t use the same agent.
Do yourself a favor, hire a listing agent to list your home and a buyers agent to purchase a home. The two are not the same and you will get the most out of your experience by having a specialized agent represent you.