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August 15, 2017 • Stay Connected!
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QUESTION:   I have a new buyer. I begin showing them homes and we cannot find, or win a home for them. I list a new home (or already had a listing) and they ask to see this listing. I show the home (my listing) and they want to write a contract. Am I automatically a Dual Agent? What if I've explained to my buyer ahead of time that if they decide to purchase a home I have listed, I have already committed to working only for the seller and will not represent them on my own listings? Do I need them to sign something confirming that previous statement? Is this even possible?



ANSWER:  The Agency Law (RCW 18.86.020) controls the answer to this question. Broker represents buyer UNLESS broker has a written agency agreement with seller. If broker has a written agency agreement with seller, broker represents seller exclusively UNLESS broker ALSO has a written agency agreement with buyer. If broker has a written agency agreement with both buyer and seller, then broker is a dual agent. Said differently, broker is NEVER a dual agent UNLESS broker has a written agency agreement with both buyer AND seller.
 
In this scenario, broker is representing buyer without a buyer agency agreement. That means that broker represents buyer unless and until broker shows buyer a house listed by broker. As soon as broker shows broker's listing to buyer, broker represents seller, exclusively, with respect to that property only. If buyer and broker want broker to be a dual agent, then buyer must sign a buyer agency agreement with broker, even if the buyer agency agreement is limited to the listed property only. (Note: Seller already consented to a dual agency relationship by signing the Form 1A or 1B listing agreement.)
 
Broker must understand this agency representation analysis so that broker can properly disclose broker's agency relationship to each party and then properly and accurately represent broker's agency on the purchase agreement.

 

The Legal Hotline Lawyer does not represent Washington REALTORS or its members. To browse through our database of past Q & A's, visit www.warealtor.org. Attorney Annie Fitzsimmons writes the Legal Hotline Question and Answer of the Week. Please submit questions to legalhotline@warealtor.org . Please tell us your NRDS number when you e-mail the Hotline with your question.


 

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