Southern Coast Realty Representing Our Real Estate Clients

Understand Agency Relationships And Who Is Representing You

It’s important to understand what legal responsibilities your real estate salesperson has to you and to other parties in the transaction. Ask what type of agency relationship your agent has with you. All agents in SC are required by law to explain the different types of agency (which is representation) to you at the earliest possible moment. If you contact an agent and they fail to explain agency to you then they are not meeting a professional standard (or the law).

Seller's representative (also known as a listing agent or seller's agent)

A seller's agent is hired by and represents the seller. All fiduciary duties are owed to the seller. The agency relationship usually is created by a listing contract. The seller's agent will handle all inquires for the property and all negotiations with buyers or buyer's agents. They will also look out for the seller's best interest during the steps needed to get to closing per the terms of a contract.

Buyer's representative (also known as a buyer’s agent)

A buyer’s agent is hired by prospective buyers to represent them in a real estate transaction. The buyer's rep works in the buyer's best interest throughout the transaction and owes fiduciary duties to the buyer. The buyer can pay the licensee directly through a negotiated fee, or the buyer's rep may be paid by the seller (which is the case most of the time) or through a commission split with the seller’s agent. Many buyers do not know that they can receive professional real estate advice and representation at no cost to them when the seller is paying the agents commission (which is most of the time).


A subagent owes the same fiduciary duties to the agent's customer as the agent does. Subagency usually arises when a cooperating sales associate from another brokerage, who is not the buyer’s agent, shows property to a buyer. In such a case, the subagent works with the buyer as a customer but owes fiduciary duties to the listing broker and the seller. Although a subagent cannot assist the buyer in any way that would be detrimental to the seller, a buyer-customer can expect to be treated honestly by the subagent. It is important that subagents fully explain their duties to buyers. We find that most agencies, including ours, do not allow for subagency. We prefer that an agent that brings a buyer to one of our listings be a "buyer's agent" and not represent our seller since they do not work under our control.

Disclosed dual agent

Dual agency is a relationship in which the brokerage firm represents both the buyer and the seller in the same real estate transaction. While Dual agency relationships do not carry with them all of the traditional fiduciary duties to clients, the agent is still charged with looking our for both parties interest and acts as a problem solver and works out the details both between both parties. Usually by the time Dual Agency is discussed and entered into the buyer has a pretty good idea on the value to them on a property and price advice from the agent is not as important as the terms and conditions of an offer and contract. All parties need to give their informed consent. Disclosed dual agency, is when both the buyer and the seller are told that the agent is representing both of them, and is legal in most states. We act as Dual Agents often and handle it well. Many agents are not comfortable representing both parties because the lack the experience of have a difficult time balancing their responsibility to both parties.

Designated agent (also called appointed agent)

This is a brokerage practice that allows the managing broker to designate which licensees in the brokerage will act as an agent of the seller and which will act as an agent of the buyer. Designated agency avoids the problem of creating a dual-agency relationship for licensees at the brokerage. The designated agents give their clients full representation, with all of the attendant fiduciary duties. The broker still has the responsibility of supervising both groups of licensees. We do not offer Designated agency in our company as we are small and not equipped to keep all correspondence and files separate within the office. We prefer Dual Agency where one agent handles both parties.