Buyer Beware – Seller/Seller Contracts

[photopress:seller_seller.jpg,full,alignright]Who represents you, the seller?  Who represents you, the buyer?  Does anyone represent you at all?

Because of all the rhetoric regarding “the evils of Dual Agency”, many buyer consumers are not represented at all in the purchase of a home.  How being represented “in part” became worse than being represented “not at all”, I’m not sure.

This is particularly sad in the State of Washington, as we are the ONLY State to the best of my knowledge, that affords buyer consumers full and equal representation to that of the seller, as the default of our laws.  To see the State trying to insure full representation for all buyers, and then see common practice and other forces flipping that to Zero, Zilch, NONE and No Representation, is clearly a soapbox of mine.

That is not to say that a buyer cannot choose to represent himself, in whole or in part, and possibly reap some monetary benefits when doing so.  As long as that buyer consumer undertands the responsibilities he is taking upon himself, and clearly understands that they are not being represented by anyone except themselves.

Caveat Emptor does not exist in real estate in the State of Washington, unless the buyer CHOOSES it.


Many consumers erroneously get the message that they are “represented”, at least in part, by seeing the same Company and Agent’s name and information on both sides of the signature portions at the bottom. This is NOT the case.

Who represents whom is noted in item #15 “Agency Disclosure”.  If SELLER is checked BOTH times, the agent on both sides at the bottom represents the SELLER at ALL times and the buyer never, leaving the buyer totally unrepresented in the real estate transaction.  Again, nothing wrong with this IF the buyer CHOOSES it.  But all too often the buyer sees an agent name and a company name underneath where they are signing, and erroneously comes to the visual conclusion that they are represented by the agent whose name and contact info appear under their signature.

If line 15. is checked SELLER where it indicates “selling licensee represents”, then the agent whose name appears twice, represents the SELLER with every word spoken to you, and every time he or she is “assisting” you with your duties under the sales contract.

When you ask how much the Earnest Money is…the answer will be the Seller’s best answer.  When you ask any question regarding the contract blanks or any question regarding how to proceed to fill out the contract and proceed to closing, the answer will be the BEST answer from the standpoint of the SELLER and not you, the buyer.  As long as you understand this, there is nothing wrong with SELLER/SELLER contracts.

This blog post is to help insure that buyer consumers look in the correct place when trying to determine whether or not they are represented, and where to get advices regarding the purchase of their home.  Single Agency protects the agent better, but leaves someone high and dry.  That’s OK, as long as the buyer knows not to put out their hand for a step down or ask for a drink of water from…the agent for the SELLER.

I would say this works in reverse for a For Sale By Owner, except, as you can readily see, the NWMLS contract provides no check block for the seller to be totally unrepresented.  The contract would have to be modified, with the permission of NWMLS, to use this standard form for a property not listed in the NWMLS by a member of the NWMLS. 

This is a public service announcement 🙂