In Maryland, upon first meeting, buyers need to be made aware of agency relationships.
In this day & age with internet contact and the ability of agents to provide market data instantly through services, agency relationships may be created without buyers or agents truly being aware that this has been done.
On my site, I do share market data, and wanted to ensure that people reading understand that the data I provide is public information, and it does not create an agency relationship.
The best way to understand agency is this document provided by the Maryland Association of REALTORS (R) called Understanding Whom Real Estate Agents Represent.
There are three agency relationships that can be created in the State of Maryland.
One is Agents Who Represent the Seller. This is an agent who has listed a property and has a written agreement with a seller. Buyers need to be aware that LISTING AGENTS CAN NEVER ACTUALLY REPRESENT A BUYER. Agents who represent the seller can handle the entire transaction and must treat everyone with honesty and be fair in all dealings, but CANNOT give up their fiduciary relationship with the seller, and MUST, by law, tell the seller any information provided to them by a buyer that may help the seller in their negotiations.
A cooperating agent is one who works for a different company but does NOT represent the buyer in the transaction.
Then there are Agents Who Represent the Buyer. An agent is considered a PRESUMED BUYER’S AGENT when showing homes, as long as the property is NOT listed with the agent’s company. One note to be aware of: “A presumed buyer’s agent may not make or prepare an offer or negotiate a sale for the buyer.”
Once a buyer decides to put an offer on any property the presumed agency must end. The buyer must decide whether that agent is a true buyer’s agent, where they have an actual Buyer Agency Agreement drawn up, or the presumed buyer’s agent must represent the seller. Those are the choices in the State of Maryland when it comes to writing an offer to a seller.
What could POSSIBLY happen, is that the property the buyer wants to buy is listed with the agent’s company. If the buyer wants this agent to represent them as a buyer’s agent, this creates DUAL AGENCY. This is where the broker represents both sides in a transaction, but each individual agent within the company still represents their clients’ interest. If a buyer or seller does not agree to dual agency, then a buyer’s agent who has a written buyer agency agreement would not be allowed to show houses that his or her company has listed. I will write another post addressing this topic by itself in more detail.
The best way to find out more is to speak with a Licensed REALTOR (R) in Maryland, so they can explain it further. If you would like to know more about who Maryland real estate agents may represent from me, please contact me!
**PLEASE NOTE: Forms and Agency Laws may change over time. This post is from 2010, and forms were updated February 2012 to the most current forms at the time from the Maryland Association of REALTORS(R). Please contact me for the most updated law and forms!**