Abuses In Dual Agency
Dual Agency has long been an acceptable practice in real estate. As with anything, Dual Agency is only as good as the practitioner using it. There are some Agents that abuse all Agency relationships. They don't do things right even when they are only representing one side of the transaction.
Dual Agency occurs when an Agent represents both the Buyer and the Seller. Lately, there have been publicized references to what is being called Triple and Quadruple Agency situations. When an Agent sells a home for a flipper someone that buys and sells homes, and then lists it, Triple Agency. When they represent the Buyer and Seller in the flip sale, Quadruple Agency.
There is nothing wrong with any of the above, so long as things are done correctly, properly disclosed, and in a manner fair to all involved. Where things go awry isn't in how much the Agent earns, or how many sides they represent, it happens when they do, or don't do, things to the detriment of others.
The most common negative we've witnessed in such circumstances is when an Agent keeps a property out of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database until they get a Buyer. This behavior compromises the MLS system which is based on the cooperation between Brokers. The fine for this infraction is severe, $250 and $100 per day. Some were kept out of the MLS for several weeks but the Sellers had no idea that they weren't in MLS. Enforcement is challenging because of the concern for privacy of the Seller and the terms of the listing contract.
Sellers in such cases are victims, but don't know it. They listed their property when they were ready to sell, but their selling momentum was placed on hold while the self-serving Agent tries to double end, or more, the transaction. It doesn't matter if it is a Short Sale and the brunt of the lower price resulting from the improper market exposure is going to be absorbed by the Lender, it isn't fair to anybody.
The resulting price is lower than it should be, keeping the market prices depressed for other Sellers. It isn't fair to all of us who pay taxes, a portion of which is going to bail out some of the loan programs that lose money in such situations. The insurance companies that insure the loans so people can buy with less down take an unnecessary hit.
It is difficult to monitor. Nobody knows for sure when the listing was signed except for the listing Agent and the Seller. If the Seller doesn't know that the property wasn't input within 48 hours as it should have been per their contract, the corrupt Agent gets away with it. We're not talking about an Agent with a family emergency that can't input in a timely manner. We are talking about repeat offenders, those who make a habit of this self-serving practice.
If you wish to confirm that your home was put in the MLS in a timely manner you can ask your Agent to send you the history page from MLS, or call the MLS office directly, 775-823-8828. If you sold short recently, you might wish to forget your experience, but you would be helping the industry if you were a victim of this practice by reporting to those looking in to the matter for enforcement and sanctions.
Our Advice: If you want to list your property now for convenience, but don't want it actively on the market until a date certain, there is a form that you are required to sign acknowledging that you are not in the MLS database. There is nothing wrong with delayed MLS input, or Dual Agency so long as it is done correctly and appropriately and in a manner fair for all concerned. When things are manipulated for money is where they start to go wrong.
Agents are a valuable tool for Sellers, but they must keep their focus on the client, not themselves.
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