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In the past, buyers were at a disadvantage in buying homes because the system was set up to favor sellers and Realtors. But nowadays, consumers can hire buyers agents who can negotiate 100% on their behalf and keep their motivations safe. Still, some buyers fail to get proper agent representation especially those who do not know that buyer representation exists.

As a matter of fact, Tammy, a recent client from California worried about getting a “double agent”. She tried looking for a buyers agent and had difficulty finding one. So she decided to reach out to Buyer Agent Search for help. She plans to buy her first home using the funds from her inheritance. It’s easy to see why she wants to hire the right agent. She wants to make sure she does everything right from the onset to protect her investment.

Hiring the right agent is the first critical step in a home buying transaction. Doing this helps eliminate possible conflicts of interest, and thus, protects the interests of the buyer. Check out our list of California top buyers agents here.

Is it possible for an Agent to represent both a buyer and a seller in California in a real estate transaction? 

The definite answer is, yes. But it comes with guidelines to follow per Assembly Bill 1289 Real Property Disclosure Requirements, which you’ll learn more about as you go on reading this article.

Dual agency is not illegal in California, but it is a heavily litigated area of real estate law. A dual agent is defined by California Civil Code (2079.139d) as “an agent acting, either directly or through an associate licensee, as agent for both the seller and the buyer in a real property transaction.” California Civil Code §2079.17 specifies the disclosure requirements for dual agents.

Stimmel-law.com
Dual Agent in California

What is A Dual Agent?

A dual agent is anyone from the same brokerage who is working with different parties to a single transaction, even if each individual agent communicates and works exclusively with a single party. 

CA Assembly Bill 1289 on Dual Agency: 

Agent Representing Both Buyer and Seller

A real estate agent, either acting directly or through one or more salespersons and broker associates, can legally be the agent of both the Seller and the Buyer in a transaction, but only with the knowledge and consent of both the Seller and the Buyer.

In a dual agency situation, the agent has the following affirmative obligations to both the Seller and the Buyer:

  • (a) A fiduciary duty of utmost care, integrity, honesty, and loyalty in the dealings with either the Seller or the Buyer.
  • (b) Other duties to the Seller and the Buyer as stated above in their respective sections.
Dual Agent in California

What To Expect from a Dual Agent?

“Assembly Bills 1289 and 2884 (2018), effective January 1, 2019, provide that a dual agent may not reveal to either party facts relating to the financial position, motivations, bargaining position, or other personal information that may impact price, in addition to the restrictions already mentioned.”

– California AB-1289 Real Property Disclosure Requirements

In other words, in a dual agency:

  • Standard rules and expectations do not apply like what you would benefit from having an exclusive buyers’ agent or an exclusive seller’s agent.
  • The agent cannot advise on home price, terms, or negotiate on anyone’s behalf. Meaning, the agent can’t fully function as a buyer or a seller’s agent.
  • Lastly, a huge benefit is to the agent is that they may collect twice the commission. In California, commission rate in a real estate transaction is based on the total sale price of the property. The buyer’s and seller’s agents equally share the commission. But since a dual agent represents both parties, they get the full commission.

Which Agent Can You Get Better Representation From?

If you’re curious as to how a buyer agent can help, check out how one of Buyer Agent Search Top Buyer Agents in California protects her clients:

California Assembly Bill 1289 also defined a real estate agent’s fiduciary duties towards a seller or a buyer. Compare your notes above about a dual agent to what you’ll read below and see which agent will most likely prioritize your interests above his/her own.

California Buyer’s Agent

A Buyer’s agent can, with a Buyer’s consent, agree to act as agent for the Buyer only. In these situations, the agent is not the Seller’s agent, even if by agreement the agent may receive compensation for services rendered, either in full or in part from the Seller.

An agent acting only for a Buyer has the following affirmative obligations:

  • To the Buyer: A fiduciary duty of utmost care, integrity, honesty, and loyalty in dealings with the Buyer.
  • To the Buyer and the Seller:
    • (a) Diligent exercise of reasonable skill and care in the performance of the agent’s duties.
    • (b) A duty of honest and fair dealing and good faith.
    • (c) A duty to disclose all facts known to the agent materially affecting the value or desirability of the property that are not known to, or within the diligent attention and observation of, the parties.

An agent is not obligated to reveal to either party any confidential information obtained from the other party that does not involve the affirmative duties set forth above.

California Seller’s Agent

A Seller’s agent under a listing agreement with the Seller acts as the agent for the Seller only.

A Seller’s agent or a subagent of that agent has the following affirmative obligations:

  • To the Seller: A fiduciary duty of utmost care, integrity, honesty, and loyalty in dealings with the Seller.
  • To the Buyer and the Seller:
    • (a) Diligent exercise of reasonable skill and care in the performance of the agent’s duties.
    • (b) A duty of honest and fair dealing and good faith.
    • (c) A duty to disclose all facts known to the agent materially affecting the value or desirability of the property that are not known to, or within the diligent attention and observation of, the parties.

An agent is not obligated to reveal to either party any confidential information obtained from the other party that does not involve the affirmative duties set forth above.

Buyer Agent Search by SkyFor

The Bottomline

The ultimate responsibility to protect your own interests is yours as a buyer or a seller, not the agents’. Either the purchase agreement or a separate document will contain a confirmation of which agent is representing you and whether that agent is representing you exclusively in the transaction or acting as a dual agent. So before you sign a contract make sure that it accurately reflects your understanding of your agent’s role in the real estate transaction.

The above duties of the agent in a real estate transaction do not relieve a Seller or Buyer from the responsibility to protect his or her own interests. You should also carefully read all agreements to assure that they adequately express your understanding of the transaction. As a buyer, you have the duty to exercise reasonable care to protect yourself, including as to those facts about the property which are known to you or within your diligent attention and observation.

-CA Assembly Bill 1289

Need A Top-Rate Fiduciary Agent in California?

Buyer Agent Search by Skyfor, advocates for consumers’ protection. It recognizes the importance of having the best representation such as a buyers agent who can maximize its fiduciary duties towards the client.

For consumers interested to buy or sell a home in California, feel free to pick an agent here: Buyer Agent Search. You may also take advantage of the free consultations and get a list of buyer agent recommendations. The service provides assistance to anyone who is looking anywhere in the United States or Costa Rica.. Simply dial 800-383-7188 or fill out the online form.

Kathleen is also an advocate for buyers and a licensed broker herself with a Masters in Social work and a lifelong career of advocating for real estate buyers. She and her team are ready to help the perfect match for you. Call us and have the opportunity to work with top-notch Exclusive and Accredited Buyer Agents. When you can, don’t forget to check out the many home-buying videos that are available on their YouTube channel. See you there!

Kathleen Chiras

Kathleen Chiras is the associations manager and web manager for the Colorado Exlusive Buyer Agents Association.

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