Understanding Agency Relationships

When you're selling a home, it's fairly easy to know who your agent is - it's the person or team you listed your property with, right?  Maybe not - it all depends on how your listing agreement is worded.

What if you're a buyer?  Is the agent you are looking at property with your agent?  Chances are, they are not working as a "buyers" agent, but working as a transaction agent.

What are the differences?

Years ago, the State of Florida did away with what was called dual agency. Under dual agency, a broker/agent could represent both sides of the transactions. However, it was decided that there was no way to truly offer full fiduciary duties to both a buyer and a seller. Enter the Transaction Broker/Agent.

Here is a look at the types of agency offered in Florida:

Seller's Broker/Single Agent. Also known as a listing agent, a seller's agent is hired by and represents the seller. All fiduciary duties are owed to the seller. The agency relationship usually part of the listing agreement.  A seller's agent negotiates the best possible price and terms for the seller, working with the seller's best interest throughout the transaction. 

Buyer's Broker/Single Agent. A real estate licensee is hired by a prospective buyer as an agent to find an acceptable property for purchase and to negotiate the best possible price and terms for the buyer. The agent represents the buyer's best interest throughout the transaction. The buyer can pay the agent directly through a negotiated fee, or the buyer's agent may be paid by the seller or a commission split with the listing agent.
Nonagency relationship or Transaction Broker/Agent. Since it is impossible to offer full fiduciary duties to both a buyer and a seller, Florida has created the Transaction Agent. These agents work for the transaction. While the duties owed to the consumer are less than the complete, traditional fiduciary duties, the licensee still owes each party some fiduciary duties. In addition, these agents are still bound by the Realtor's Code of Ethics and must provide fair, honest and ethical service to the consumer.  It is this relationship that allows an agent to work have "both sides" of the transaction, working directly with the buyer and the seller. 

In the Florida Keys, I have found that the most common agency relationship being used is Transaction Agent. This is the way that allows two agents from the same agency to work on the same transaction.  Without it, agents would need to first obtain permission to transition to a transaction broker/agent relationship. 

Questions?  Feel free to call or send me an email.