Dual Agent = Double Agent

Our Hours
& Location

104 South Broadway
Tarrytown, NY 10591


Frequently Asked Questions

I thought all real estate agents were pretty much the same. What's the difference between a seller's agent and a buyer's agent?

It is important for home buyers to understand the different types of real estate agents before shopping for a home. New York State has a mandatory written Agency Disclosure Form to explain the different types of real estate agents to consumers of real property. The Agency Disclosure must be provided to any prospect by the agent prior to the agent receiving any substantive information about the prospect. The consumer always has the right to choose the type of agent he or she wants to work with.

A Seller's Agent (the real estate company) is bound with fiduciary duties to represent, protect, and advocate for the best interests of their Seller Client, which includes negotiating for the highest possible price at the best possible terms for the seller. A Buyer's Agent (the real estate company) is bound with fiduciary duties to represent, protect, and advocate for the best interests of their Buyer Client, which includes negotiating for the lowest possible price at the best possible terms for the buyer.

The fiduciary duties an Agent owes their Client are undivided loyalty, full disclosure, lawful obedience, accounting/accountability, confidentiality, reasonable care and due diligence.

It seems many sellers' Realtors are claiming to be 'buyers' agents'. What's the difference between them and your company?

A seller's agent may offer to be a buyer's agent (Non-Exclusive) but cannot legitimately claim to be an Exclusive Buyer's Agent because they work for companies which list homes for sale. What's the difference? If you are introduced to any property listed for sale by their own company, your buyer's agent may become a 'dual agent' or you may receive no representation at all while the seller is fully represented, since their company already represents the seller's interests. A dual agent is a disloyal agent. If you provide consent to dual agency you are "on your own" to negotiate price and terms, and to uncover what is wrong with that home. Dual agency is the ultimate "bait and switch". You become responsible for protecting your own interests, releasing your former buyer's agent (the company) from that duty and obligation. Dual agency financially benefits the listing company by enabling it to collect a full commission-double the money-while betraying their loyalty to their former client.

Prior to the advent of Exclusive Buyer Agency in the early 1980's, dual agency had been strongly discouraged for many years by Realtors, attorneys and industry experts as a legal and ethical gray area due to its inherent conflict of interest. The more prominent the listing company and the more properties it has listed for sale increases the likelihood of dual agency. Most real estate agents claiming to be buyers' agents are not real buyers' agents because of the possibility of dual agency.

Important Note: Some non-exclusive buyer's agents from listing companies are claiming to be Exclusive Buyers' Agents. Non-exclusive buyer agents often request buyers to sign an Exclusive Right to Represent Buyer's Agency Agreement. Use of this form does not turn a non-exclusive buyer agent into a true Exclusive Buyer's Agent. This agreement benefits only the real estate company by locking the buyer into using that agent and company for the purchase of any property, including their own company listings, creating a dual agency or even a non-agency relationship with the buyer. If the seller does not agree to dual agency, the buyer can become a non-represented customer in that transaction, while the seller is fully represented as a Client. Any agent working for a traditional listing company while claiming to be an Exclusive Buyer's Agent is misrepresenting their true agency status. Their knowledge and ethics should be questioned.

How does one determine if an agent claiming to be an
'exclusive buyer's agent' is a true and legitimate buyer's agent?
Just ask the following question:

Does the company you work for list property for sale? If the answer is 'yes' that agent is not a true exclusive buyer's agent and cannot legitimately claim to be so.

The NYS Department of State (DOS)* Counsel's Office expressly states in a legal memorandum entitled "Be Wary of Dual Agency": 'As a Principal [Client] in a real estate transaction, you should always know that you have the right to be represented by an agent [company] who is loyal only to you throughout the entire transaction. Your agent's fiduciary duties to you need never be compromised' (click link below to read entire legal memorandum). Dual Agency furthers the financial and business interests of the listing company, allowing it to collect twice the commission for doing half the work, if you provide consent. *DOS is responsible for the licensing and regulation of real estate brokers and sales agents in New York State.

Why don't you list homes for sale? What properties can you show us if you don't list homes?

Not listing homes for sale is the only way a real estate company can provide homebuyers with undivided (complete) loyalty, 100% of the time. Our policy of not listing homes for sale enables us to concentrate and focus on helping homebuyers find and purchase the best homes while providing superior levels of representation and service. Clients are guaranteed complete company loyalty, due diligence, full disclosure, and advocacy 100% of the time on any property.

Clients make the best purchase decisions based on objective advice and professional counsel. Exclusive buyer's brokerage eliminates the possibility of dual agency and the risks and conflicts associated with it (read below).

Buyer's Edge Realty has full access to the MLS and can view properties listed with any company, just like any Realtor. We can expand the search to include For Sale By Owner properties, which traditional sellers' agents hesitate to do, and property from any other source.

What's the difference between a 'customer' and a 'client'?

A Customer is a prospective buyer or a prospective seller acting without agency representation and assumes responsibility for representing and protecting their own interests. A homeseller such as a "For Sale by Owner" working with a Buyer's Agent or a homebuyer viewing homes through a Seller's Agent are both considered unrepresented customers.

A Client (also known as a 'Principal') receives agency representation, protection and advocacy from their Agent (the company). A seller listing their home for sale with a Seller's Agent is considered the Client-the agency relationship is usually established in writing called an Exclusive Right to Sell Listing Agreement. A homebuyer working with an Exclusive Buyer's Agent is considered the Client-the agency relationship is usually established in writing called an Exclusive Right to Represent Agreement.

How is an Exclusive Buyer's Broker compensated?

Our compensation is already included in the price of any MLS listed property and is disbursed by the seller's attorney at the closing, just like any real estate broker is paid. It usually costs no more for our services, or at times slightly more or even less, versus using a seller's agent or a Non-Exclusive buyer's agent. This depends on the amount offered to a buyer's agent by the company listing the home you want to buy compared to our standard fee. When the amount offered to a buyer's agent is greater than our standard fee, our client receives a credit which is applied to reducing their closing costs or the purchase price-it's their choice.

While we are normally compensated through the seller's attorney, our loyalty and fiduciary responsibilities are provided to homebuyers 100% of the time and guaranteed by written agreement.

If you are paid a percentage of the purchase price, isn't it in your interest to keep the price high?

No. We always attempt to negotiate the best possible price for our clients. We are in a fiduciary relationship and place the interests and goals of our buyer clients above our own and anyone else in the transaction at all times. Saving our clients time and money is an important part of our legal responsibility.

Negotiating the lowest possible purchase price can benefit clients in another important way. Over the years we have successfully helped to reduce assessed values for numerous clients on over-assessed properties, typically saving our homebuyers hundreds or even thousands of dollars in annual property taxes every year they own their homes. We analyze assessment data to determine whether the municipality's estimate of market value is fair and equitable. If it appears excessive, we compile the appropriate supporting documentation, then meet with the local tax assessor when a reduction is necessary. Savings ranging from 10% to over 40% in annual property taxes have been realized through our efforts on over-assessed properties purchased by our clients.

If I choose not to have representation and just go directly to the seller's listing company, won't I save money?

No, you won't. The fee that we would have received through the MLS, which you are paying anyway since it's already built into the purchase price, will just go directly to the seller's agent (listing company). They will get a double commission, and you will only get "dual agency" or no representation at all.

If I'm looking for a certain neighborhood maybe I should go with a local seller's agent who is more 'familiar" with that neighborhood?

Sellers' agents by law represent the interests of homesellers, not homebuyers, so they will talk about known and usually obvious property attributes and amenities. They cannot tell you what is wrong with any of their listings and neighborhoods, how to negotiate a lower price with better terms, if the asking price is too high, or any other information which reduces the seller's ability to sell at the highest possible price at the best terms. We have represented many buyers throughout Westchester and Putnam Counties, as well as other counties in New York.

I heard that what you do is not really any different than what seller's Realtors do. Is that true?

No. If another agent who lists property for sale, or whose company lists property, says they can do what we do, they are either misinformed or may be acting in a fraudulent manner known as undisclosed dual agency. They cannot legally offer Exclusive Buyer's Agency or claim that they are an Exclusive Buyer's Agent. The use of an Exclusive Buyer's Agency Agreement does not turn a non-exclusive buyer's agent into an Exclusive Buyer's Agent. The use of that Agreement locks you into using only that agent (the company) for the purchase of any property including their own company listings, inviting dual agency. If they call themselves an Exclusive Buyer's Agent, they are misrepresenting their true agency status-their competence and ethics should be questioned. Ask them what happens if you become interested in one of their own listings, or one of their company's listings-who do they represent then? (Hint: They already have a legal obligation and commitment to the seller by written contract-the property listing agreement).

Nowadays a seller's agent can claim to be your [Non-Exclusive] buyer's agent, a broker's agent, a dual agent, or a designated buyer's or seller's agent under dual agency. Those non-agency options are offered by many real estate agents to maximize the financial and business interests of the listing company, and do not protect the interests of consumers. New York is a "homebuyer beware" State. You should be familiar with the different types of real estate agents before shopping for your next home.

Buyer's Edge Realty never compromises or reduces our undivided company loyalty and fiduciary obligations to our clients. We do not offer to be seller's agents, dual agents, designated agents, broker's agents, or Non-Exclusive buyer agents.

What is dual agency with designated sales agents?

The principal broker may designate two sales agents from within the same company-one sales agent to 'represent' the buyer, and the other to 'represent' the seller on an in-house company listing. The broker and each designated agent are dual agents. Each designated sales agent may now 'advocate' for their respective 'client'-a remarkable conflict of interest! The designated sales agent for the buyer can negotiate for the lowest possible price, while the designated sales agent for the seller can negotiate for the highest possible price in the same transaction. Keeping your interests confidential is in jeopardy as both sales agents are working for the same firm, sharing files, computers, and attending the same company meetings. Unbalanced representation may occur, with the more experienced designated agent having an advantage over a less experienced designated agent and their client. This is similar to being sued by a law firm, then hiring the same law firm suing you to defend you. Most people instinctively would never do that, and most attorneys would not offer it-they consider this an illegal practice.

Dual agency and dual agency with designated sales agents exist to maximize the financial and business interests of the real estate listing company, and do not protect or serve the interests of homebuyers.

Do you work a particular area or part of town?

We work for home buyers throughout Westchester and Putnam Counties, serving a wide variety of clients and price ranges.

What if I've already seen a property with a seller's agent and now I want to use your company as my Exclusive Buyer's Agent to buy that home?

If you saw the home at an open house you probably are not bound to that agent. However, if you called from a yard sign or an advertisement, you may have to work with that agent to purchase that particular home. This also depends on whether the agent followed proper procedure, as well. Call us for an assessment of your particular situation before you go any further.

Are you in an adversarial relationship with the seller and the seller's agent?

Not anymore. About a year or so after we opened Buyer's Edge Realty there was some hostility directed towards us from a small number of unenlightened Exclusive Seller Agents. Nowadays sellers' agents claim they can also be [Non-Exclusive] buyers' agents, so that has all disappeared.

What's the difference between an "Exclusive Buyer's Agent" and an "Exclusive Buyer's Broker"?

An Exclusive Buyer's Broker describes the type of real estate company which represents homebuyers only in a client-agency relationship. The company does not list property for sale and never has a seller as a Client. Sellers are always considered unrepresented customers. The agents working for an Exclusive Buyer's Broker are Exclusive Buyer's Agents.

The principal broker of an Exclusive Buyer's Brokerage is the actual "Exclusive Buyer's Agent" hired in a fiduciary relationship by homebuyers. The licensed real estate agents at an Exclusive Buyer's Broker company are Exclusive Buyer's Agents working through the principal broker's license representing the sole interests of homebuyers owing the same duties to clients as the principal broker.

Prior to Buyer's Agency, all real estate companies were Exclusive Sellers' Brokers-all companies worked for the interests of sellers as Clients, buyers were always considered unrepresented customers acting on their own behalf. The agents were all Exclusive Sellers' Agents working for the interests of any seller from any listing company in a fiduciary capacity, regardless of which company listed the home for sale. Sellers' agents have legal duties to sell at the highest possible price and at the best terms for any seller. The listing agreement a seller signs with a real estate company establishes the agency relationship.

An Agent owes his/her Client (also known as a 'Principal') the fiduciary duties of undivided loyalty, full disclosure, confidentiality, reasonable care and due diligence, lawful obedience, accounting and accountability.

What if I have a home to sell first? Can you still help me?

Yes. People seem to think that we cannot help someone who has a house to sell first. While we do not list homes for sale, we can refer you to experienced, professional, and ethical agents to help you sell your current home. This way, you will have a seller's agency helping you sell, and you'll have us to help you purchase. You will also avoid getting into Dual Agency on both the selling and buying sides, which has serious drawbacks (see below for more on Dual Agency). If you choose to sell as a For Sale By Owner, we can provide you with comparable sales data in your neighborhood and point you in the right direction. We cannot, however, provide "client-level" services to you as a seller.

Isn't that more complicated than having just one agent for everything?

It might sound that way, but it's not. What if your one agent/company selling your home was also "representing" the buyer for your home? And what if that agent/company was also representing the seller of the home that you wanted to buy? Then who's working for whom? And how much money is that agent/company making at your expense? Now that's complicated! Think of it this way: people are relocated from out of town all the time. They have one agent from a local company selling their current home, and another agent from a different company helping them buy their new home. This happens every day.

Can you help me with finding a reputable lender?

Certainly. Since we only work for buyers, we have established good working relationships with the best lenders on a regular basis. We can also refer you to the most competent inspectors, attorneys, engineers, architects, contractors, and other providers. Of course, our buyers are free to choose whomever they like. We do not receive or accept bonuses or incentives from any provider we refer. If any bonus is offered it is credited back to our client towards reducing the purchase price or closing costs.

What if I don't want to buy the home after the home inspection?

You are under no legal obligation to buy the home-just back out of the deal. The only expense to you was the cost of the home inspection. In Westchester and Putnam Counties, contracts are drawn up by the seller's attorney after all inspections have been completed and any renegotiations have ended.

What if I am in contract but I do not get a mortgage?

Most contracts have a Mortgage Contingency Clause. As long as you have not waived that contingency, you can back out of the purchase if you do not receive a mortgage commitment and have acted in good faith. Your deposit (earnest money) should be returned to you. Consult your attorney for more information.

So you fully represent my interests as a buyer at all times, no matter which home I want to purchase?

Yes. We provide 100% buyer representation, 100% of the time. We are legally obligated to represent your interests at all times, on any home. This means helping you find the best home and negotiating for the lowest possible price at the most favorable terms. Seller's agents acting as non-exclusive buyer's agents can't promise that. Representation means helping you save time and money while providing peace of mind and satisfaction.

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Edge Realty

Serving all areas of Westchester County, including Ardsley, Armonk, Bedford, Bedford Hills, Briarcliff Manor, Bronxville, Buchanan, Chappaqua, Cross River, Croton Falls, Croton-on-Hudson, Dobbs Ferry, Eastchester, Elmsford, Goldens Bridge, Harrison, Hartsdale, Hastings-on-Hudson, Hawthorne, Irvington, Jefferson Valley, Katonah, Lake Katonah, Larchmont, Lewisboro, Mamaroneck, Mohegan Lake, Mount Kisco, Mount Vernon, New Castle, New Rochelle, North Castle, North Salem, Ossining, Peekskill, Pelham, Pelham Manor, Pleasantville, Port Chester, Pound Ridge, Purchase, Purdys, Rye, Rye Brook, Scarborough, Scarsdale, Shrub Oak, Sleepy Hollow, Somers, Tarrytown, Thornwood, Tuckahoe, Valhalla, Vista, Waccabuc, White Plains, Yonkers, Yorktown, Yorktown Heights.