In the world of Toronto real estate, things can get messy and stressful. It’s one of the hottest markets in the world. Prices continue to rise, even as the government scrambles to try to slow it down. For buyers and sellers, it is a competitive battlefield with couples fighting to get the best deal or the best house.
And some real estate agents have capitalized on that. They use a technique called multiple representations (also known as a dual agency or double-ending) where one agent represents both the buyer and seller. There can be benefits but there are also risks.
We’ve taken a look at the pros and con of multiple representation for you to consider.
What Is It?
Multiple representation goes by many names, from dual agency to double-ending. It can be confusing to know exactly what it means since it’s a pretty broad term. It occurs when two or more parties are represented by the same real estate brokerage. This could mean different agents from the same brokerage or even the same agent represents multiple clients.
Typically, multiple representation involves the buyer and seller. However, it’s not unheard of for it to happen when two buyers are using the same agent. In Ontario and most of Canada, double-ending is completely legal if both parties are aware and give consent.
Double-ending has gotten a bad rap recently. It’s viewed as real estate agents trying to be greedy, aiming to get double commission rather than really helping anyone. But when done correctly, there are benefits to multiple representation.
It’s not always required but many brokerages that act as double agents will reduce the total commission price. The commission price is then less than it would have been with two different brokerages. This means that both the buyer and seller could end up spending less.
There is also logistical, communication, and administrative advantages when dealing with one brokerage. Paperwork gets filed smoothly, calls get made directly, and the chances of miscommunication get reduced.
More and improved knowledge about the listing is a big pro to dual agency. For the seller, it means getting to know more about the potential buyer. Many people grow attached to their homes and want to give it to a deserving buyer. For buyers, it means getting more information about the condition and history of the home.
There is a reason multiple representation has been under scrutiny lately. Many real estate agents in GTA that practice this don’t do so by the required rules, laws, and guidelines. Many reveal information they’re not supposed to, making their buyers spend more than they should and getting a lower price than they want.
When it comes to real estate, inherently a buyer’s and seller’s interests are the complete opposite. A buyer wants to pay the least amount, while the seller wants the highest price. This is problematic when it comes to double-ending, as one agent couldn’t possibly give both clients what they want.
There are more challenges for buyers when it comes to dual agency. Many rely heavily on their agents to guide them on offers and pricing. This is problematic, especially if the agent is sharing confidential information that could impact their bargaining position. A lot of sketchy double-ending involves real estate agents encouraging buyers to up their offers by “revealing” other higher offers the buyer they represent has gotten.
Many think the sellers get the better end of multiple representation, and often they do, but not always. For sellers, a brokerage might be required, or just do it on their own, to reveal information about the property that they might not want to be revealed. Some brokerages seem to pick one side to favor when representing both the buyer and seller, and if it’s the buyer, then they could tell the seller to accept a lower offer.
What To Consider
There are instances when multiple offers benefit both parties and is done correctly. However, both buyers and sellers should be wary. Many experts suggest the practice is outdated and should be banned.
If you are uncomfortable with dual agency, you have choices and options. Don’t go along with it because you feel like you have to. There are thousands of registered, good brokerages in Ontario that will represent you. Make sure you research your real estate agent so that you find the best person for your home and yourself. Never underestimate your gut when it comes to this.
If you are considering multiple representation, look into using the same brokerage firm, but separate agents. This provides many of the same benefits without the risk of many of the dangers.
Contact us with any questions, comments, or concerns.