Seattle Real Estate Chat: When your Real Estate Agent or Mortgage Originator “wears two hats” [Video] #SeattleREchat

Our most recent episode of Seattle Real Estate Chat focused on real estate agents or lenders who wear two hats. Jim Reppond of Coldwell Banker Danforth and I discuss transactions where a buyers lender is also their real estate agent OR when the buyer works with the listing agent (listing agent is both sellers agent and buyers agent). Sometimes a buyer may believe the listing agent is working for them, when the listing agent may only be working for the seller. It can be a complicated situation.

Although I’m sure there are professionals who may do a great job at “wearing two hats”, it’s my opinion that home buyers are better served working with professionals who are focused solely on your needs. An agent who represents the seller (whether they are the listing agent or a builders site agent) primary responsibility is to work for the seller. And with all the regulations and changing mortgage programs that lenders contend with, it’s really a full time job and not a part-time one.

In my opinion, a buyer is better served by selecting real estate professionals and lenders who only work for them and do not work for or have a relationship with the seller. Buyers should have their own representation.

Our next Seattle Real Estate Chat will be Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 10:00 am PST – Seattle time via Google Hangout.

You can also follow us via Twitter @SeattleREchat or #SeattleREchat

UPDATE: Our next Seattle RE Chat will feature special guest, Reid Guthrie, a local home inspector who will discuss common issues found during a home inspection in the greater Seattle area. Join us!


  1. Kary L. Krismer says

    I only made it just over 12 minutes in, so sorry if this was covered.

    You do not have dual agency because there is only one agent involved in the transaction. For there to be dual agency you need to have the the buyer sign a buyer agency agreement which appoints the agent’s firm as the buyer’s firm. That is very uncommon.

    Also, dual agency doesn’t affect the commission. If there is only one agent representing the seller, that agent is both the listing agent and the selling agent. Note the term is not “buyer’s agent” on the purchase and sale agreement or the listing agreement. That means where the listing agent is only representing the seller, they get both the listing commission and the selling commission. That is true whether the agent is representing only the seller or truly acting as a dual agent.

    There was a mention of lawsuits. An agent would be in deep trouble in litigation if they were acting as a dual agent when they really only represented the seller (i.e. they had not buyer’s agency agreement signed). An attorney would eat that up.

    All that said, I agree dual agency is problematic and should be avoided, if possible. For one thing, by creating a dual agency situation you are reducing your representation of the seller, and there’s no reason your seller should want that. If by chance however you were showing a buyer properties under a buyer’s agency agreement and that buyer happened to like one of your listings (a very unlikely scenario), then you would have little choice but to either have dual agency or cut off your relationship with the buyer client by sending them to another agent (which could also be problematic).

    • Kary, You watched just over half of the video and leaving this comment? 😉

      A buyer may not realize that they need to sign a document to have “dual agency”. They may falsely believe the listing agent is also looking out for them just because they’re such a nice guy, they’re professional, etc… buyers are trusting this person unless the listing agent clearly lets the buyer know, “hey, I’m hear working for the seller and I can and will use any info you provide me to help my seller in this transaction”. Even if a buyer sings a buyer agency agreement, I don’t feel it’s in the buyers best interest to work with the seller’s agent too… I know there are exceptions to this – but it’s the exception and not the rule (IMO).

      I also don’t recall discussing that dual agency affects commission. If anything, the point was made that the agent who represents both sides (buyer and seller) on a transaction stands to make more commission because they are not having to split the commission with another broker – they get the whole pie.

  2. Kary L. Krismer says

    Your second and third paragraph are still focusing too much on how the agent represents. The unrepresented buyer is only in a slightly better position than if the agent takes them on as a client and creates a dual agency situation. They still are not being fully represented. So the issue isn’t dual agency, the issue is the buyer not having their own agent.

    And as to the commission, the point being made was that the listing agent creates a dual agency situation to “double dip.” They don’t need to create dual agency to get more of a commission. What creates the “double dip” is the buyer not using their own agent. When that happens the listing agent would get more of a commission even without creating a dual agency.

    The biggest problem with Washington law, IMHO, is that it doesn’t require any of this to be explained to the buyer until just before they sign a contract. By then, serious harm to the buyer’s interests could be done.

    • Kary, it’s hard to debate you when you admit to not watching the entire video.

      The video addresses agents and loan officers who wear “two hats” – it is not limited to dual agency. And IMO a buyer may not realize the implications of working with an agent who is the listing agent regardless of whether or not a buyers agency agreement has been signed.

      I believe that’s the message or information that we were trying to express in the video.

      • Okay, thanks to insomnia I watched it all. Now I have a new complaint. I’m still awake! It should have been more boring! 😉

        Before going further, let me say I don’t have a problem with saying there are problems in this area, and I’d agree that Jim’s practice of trying to refer unrepresented buyers to other agents is the best practice. Unfortunately though some buyers have it in their minds that they can save money by not being represented and/or think they know more than they do. They want the listing agent to write up the offer, and that puts the agent in a difficult situation.

        As to the piece, at 14:45 a hypothetical is given were the listing agent says: “No problem, I’d be happy to write it up.” That doesn’t create dual agency. That creates a situation where the buyer is unrepresented. This is an important distinction because there the agent is still trying to get the highest price for the seller, and anything damaging the buyer says must be passed on to the seller for them to benefit from. So that is actually worse for the buyer than dual agency.

        Earlier at 10:00 negotiation is mentioned. At 10:40 getting the highest price for the buyer and later lowest price for the seller is mentioned. That is not a discussion of dual agency. In dual agent situation, the agent cannot negotiate because they cannot take a position adverse to either party. For there to be negotiation and trying to get the seller the highest price there could not be a buyer’s agency agreement creating dual agency and the buyer would simply unrepresented.

        So that gets back to my points made in my first comment. It’s important both for buyers and agents to know when they are creating a dual agency situation as opposed to just staying with the situation where the buyer is unrepresented. Unfortunately the piece never addressed that, so it was discussing dual agency in a vacuum.

        My second point was that by creating the dual agency situation, if is what is desired for some (probably unjustified) reason does not affect the commission if the buyer does not want to bring another agent in. Dual agent or unrepresented buyer the listing agent gets the same commission. That point is probably more important for agents to understand, because otherwise they will be inclined to create a dual agency situation where the buyer insists on their writing up the contract. Doing that though is not good for the agent’s existing client–the seller.

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