The Art of Dual Agency

For those of us familiar with the ins and outs of a real estate practice, we are aware there are a few different types of agency relationships that can exist within a real estate contract. There are Buyer’s Agents, Seller’s Agents and Disclosed Limited Agents. The first two are pretty obvious who they represent, but the last describes a relationship where the broker not only represents both parties in the transaction, but they are also able to represent multiple buyers who want to purchase the same property. In a couple of recent “job interviews” our prospective clients asked us how we handle dual agency situations and it reminded us that the concept can be a bit foreign.

Just last week, we had the distinct pleasure of acting firsthand as Disclosed Limited Agents and while it may seem like a conflict of interest on the surface, a bit intimidating for either party, and perhaps even a precarious place to be, it was single handedly one of the most rewarding and joyful transactions to be a part of. There is no question that the deal would not have come together had we not been representing both sides of the transaction.

As the listing agents of this particular property, we knew it better than any other broker. We had been representing the property for some time and through our relationship with our Sellers, we learned more and more about the unique and special qualities in this home. We showed it to other clients as we saw fit but it wasn’t until “the one” came along did it really start to make sense as to why this home hadn’t sold previously.

Over the course of several months we showed quite a few places to our Buyer and had considered this home a candidate but based on some of her “non-negotiables”, we never actually toured her through. As her search continued, her criteria adjusted and her needs were refined, it became abundantly clear that this gem very likely was meant to be her “forever” home. She appreciated it’s grandeur, wasn’t intimidated by the face-lift the home so desperately deserved, and she wanted to own this house.

As Disclosed Limited Agents we have a responsibility to each party not to disclose any confidential information including specific details pertaining to either parties willingness to accept less or pay more than what is in the offer or subsequent counter offers. For some, the concept is unfathomable, after all, attorneys aren’t able to represent both sides; it’s a conflict of interest. How can we really look out for the best interests of both parties when we know the inside scoop on what each is willing to do? It’s quite simple really…. keep things transparent, always conduct yourself with the utmost integrity, remind all involved that we each share a common goal and don’t let your own desire for double ending a transaction influence any part of the negotiation.

When this buyer told us what she wanted to offer, I knew the Sellers had rejected two previous offers that were higher. Gulp! But I also knew she was able to offer more favorable terms than the others. So while they may not like the price, they would certainly love that the escrow would be quick, (and hopefully painless), and we would be closed within a couple of weeks. Knowing first hand how emotional the Sellers were about their home, one they loved for nearly 20 years, it was clear that in order for this transaction to come together the Buyer and the Sellers were going to need to connect on a much deeper level. From that moment, a series of “love letters” were exchanged between Buyer and Sellers. Slowly but surely the most beautiful relationship developed, and a fabulous home passed from one family to another. All parties, including us, were left with a sense of deep gratitude and satisfaction.

Having intimate knowledge of each parties’ intent undoubtedly assisted in bringing this transaction together. Once we settled on a contract price, together we navigated the roller coaster of a very scrutinizing home inspection and with grace and patience, we collectively came to terms on how best to continue to move this forward. An incredible amount of good will was exchanged resulting in a feeling of triumph among all.

When it was all said and done, we received written sentiments from each party and it became even more abundantly clear that situations like this one are why we do what we do. Both Buyer and Seller were so appreciative. They felt they were represented with the utmost respect and were so complimentary. The sellers were ecstatic that we received the full commission and said more than once how we had earned it. Imagine that? We were being commended by someone paying a whole heck of a lot of money to do exactly what they hired us to do.

Our Sellers wrote, “Your calmness made the stress of this past week much easier for us. Your confidence that the deal would go through was reassuring….We know why you two are the top brokers in Ashland. Thank you for everything.”

A couple days after closing, the most incredible bouquet of flowers was delivered to our office from the Buyer along with a generous gift card to a local spa and one of the most thoughtful notes we have ever received, “I truly want to thank you for everything you did to bring our family home… Your patience, kindness and skillfulness created a container in which I could fully embrace this powerful life initiation. Thank you especially for the bridge you were, between my heart and the Sellers. What a profound learning for all. My children and I will always hold you in our hearts with such appreciation for our home.”

For those of you who don’t know us, it’s takes quite a lot to get these tough old broads to tear up but this just about wrecked us. Moments such as this remind us again what really is our work. Our work is to be loving. The rest will fall into place.

We realize each Broker handles their business in their own way, and truthfully being a Disclosed Limited Agent just doesn’t align with some. However, before you dismiss it as being impossible or before you dictate that you wouldn’t want your agent to represent you as well as the other party, we encourage you to have a conversation with the Broker and see how they would handle it. As a Seller, it’s really not in your best interest to tell your Broker you don’t want to them to bring you a Buyer – after all, they know your home better than anyone and you want them to promote it in the most favorable light. As a Buyer, lean on your agent to show you the homes that are best fit for you and if it happens to be one of your Broker’s listing, then awesome! Not only do they know the home inside and out, they also know what the Sellers are willing to do and not do. If it can come together, why not participate in a win-win for all?