DC REAL ESTATE AGENTS AND AGREEMENTS

Learn about real estate agency and real estate agency agreements in the District of Columbia.

DC Real Estate Listing Agreements And Terms
Open Listing: Owners can sell their home themselves under the terms of this non-exclusive agreement. They may have listings with more than one brokerage. Commission is paid to the agency who is the procuring cause (brings a ready, willing and able buyer who makes an offer on the property). Since the owner is unrepresented, they are not paying a broker on their side of the transaction. Should the owners find the buyer themselves, no commission is due. Full service real estate brokerages, therefore, are not motivated to accept open listings;
Exclusive Agency Listing: The broker will represent the owners but the owners may still sell the property themselves and avoid paying commission . The broker may cooperate with other brokerages to bring in a buyer and the listing commission is split between the two brokerages. Exceptions and deadlines may be included in the agreement;
Multiple Agencies: As a seller, it is also possible to use more than one agency to list your home, though the listing agreement used must be for the jurisdiction where the property is located. It may be difficult, however, to get brokerages to agree to a multiple agency agreement. Good agents put a great deal of time, effort and expense into your home search and/or sale and want to be guaranteed they’ll be paid for their work;
Single Agent Buy & Sell Transaction: This is different than Dual Agency, where the agent represents both the buyer and seller of the same property. Often sellers of a home will also want to purchase a new home in the same city and use the same agent for both transactions. Ask: Will there be a commission discount on the listing for obtaining the buyer business? Is the agent adept as a buyer agent? Ask all the questions you’d ask of any buyer agent Outline your expectations as a buyer, timing, pre-qualification and talk strategy;
Terms and Conditions to Consider: What are commission fees, listing price, price flexibility and bottom line? Selling agent bonuses and incentives? How will offers be handled? Cancellation, expiration and showing restrictions fees & rules should be discussed. Who will pay marketing & advertising costs including photography and print collateral? If your property is a condo, are there rules regarding open houses, signage, elevator use for staging and renovation, etc.? It is up to the seller to divulge these to the agent at the time the listing is taken. If you’re renovating, discuss scope and permitting with the agent, as well as board requirements pertaining to condos and coops and who will be supervising the renovation. If you’re staging, which company will you use, what style and color scheme is expected, what is the timeline for staging and who will pay the cost? If you’re staging yourself, what’s expected? Discuss open houses. How often will they be held and what results are expected?
DC Real Estate Buyer Agency Agreements And Terms
Single Agency: An agent from brokerage A represents the seller and another agent from brokerage B represents the buyer in a transaction;
Single Agent Buy & Sell Transaction: This is different than Dual Agency, where the agent represents both the buyer and seller of the same property. Often sellers of a home will also want to purchase a new home in the same city and use the same agent for both transactions. Ask: Will there be a commission discount on the listing for obtaining the buyer business? Is the agent adept as a buyer agent? Ask all the questions you’d ask of any buyer agent Outline your expectations as a buyer, timing, pre-qualification and talk strategy;
Multiple Agents: As a buyer, you can choose to have one agent covering Virginia real estate, one covering DC real estate and one covering MD real estate if you’re looking at property in all those places and you think working with different agents will benefit you. Agents may choose not to work with you under this scenario as it becomes a complex situation requiring concise communication between the agents and with the buyer. In DC, neighborhood boundaries sometimes overlap state lines, such as in Chevy Chase, and those lines are not easily defined on listings or during tours. This can lead to disputes and violations of agreements that may result in agents taking action against one another and the buyer;
Transaction Agents: These agents do not owe a fudicary duty to either the buyer or the seller. They do not represent either side. Instead, they facilitate the transaction by providing the paperwork for one or both sides and overseeing the transaction in the most basic terms.
Dual Agency: “Dual Representation” occurs when Seller or Landlord has entered into a listing agreement with a licensee and the Buyer or Tenant has entered into a buyer brokerage agreement with the same licensee. When the parties agree to dual representation, the ability of the licensee and the brokerage firm to represent either party fully and exclusively is limited. The confidentiality of all clients shall be maintained. Prior to entering into a contract in which the buyer and seller are represented by Dual Agency, this relationship must be disclosed/confirmed in writing.
Designated Agent: Agent who is designated by the broker to represent either the buyer or the seller in a dual agency transaction. “Designated Representation” occurs when the Seller or Landlord has entered into a listing agreement with a licensee and the Buyer or Tenant has entered into a buyer brokerage agreement with a different licensee affiliated with the same firm. Each of the licensees, known as Designated Representatives, represents fully the interest of his/her individual clients. The Supervising Broker is a Dual Representative of both the Buyer and Seller, and must not disclose information obtained in confidence to other parties in the transaction.
  • If the Seller or Landlord does not consent to Designated Representation, the property may not be shown by any licensees affiliated with the brokerage firm that have entered into a representation agreement with a prospective Buyer or Tenant.
  • If the Buyer or Tenant does not consent to Designated Agency, the Buyer or Tenant may not be shown any properties listed by other licensees affiliated with the brokerage firm. Prior to entering into a contract in which the buyer and seller are represented by Designated Representatives, the relationship of both Designated Agents must be disclosed/confirmed in writing.
Terms and Conditions to Consider: In addition to standard terms of the agency agreement, you’ll want to ask DC real estate agents about how FSBO properties will be handled, how discrepancies in commission will be handled, types of representation, term of agreement, locations and ancillary fees like “admin” and “additional commission” charges. Ask your agent to explain these provisions and their implications for your transaction.
Important Factors In Selecting A DC Real Estate Agent
It’s not just that some DC real estate agents are more talented, skilled, experienced or knowledgeable than others. Motivation and dedication, availability, work ethic and specialty impact your transaction, too.
  • Communication: Does the agent return your communications in a timely manner? Are they explaining listing strategies and market circumstances to sellers, or simply dictating? Is your buyers agent strategizing with you to ensure that you reach your goals? Educating you on the market and how DC real estate works? Buyers and sellers have different needs, but your agent should do more than function as a human key and paperwork facilitator. Find a proactive partner;
  • Honesty: Does the agent tell you hard truths or play into unrealistic expectations? Working with an agent who educates you about the market, and your options will help set realistic expectations and better your ability to reach your goals;
  • Brokerage: What type of brokerage is the agent affiliated with? Is the agent a full-time agent with a full service agency? Part of a team? If so, will you work with an experienced agent or be handed off to a newbie or assistant?
  • Website: Does the agent have a website? If so, what’s included? Is it local? Informational or generic? Personalized or a cookie-cutter template primarily focused on generating leads from IDX listings, or one that provides value and education to you? Does it mirror the talking points the agent made during your interview?
  • Social Media: Is the agent a member of any online groups or engage in social media interaction? Check out the agent’s comments, posts and blogs to see what kind of information they provide;
  • Reviews: What are others saying about the agent? Not just testimonials on the agent’s website, but blog comments, ratings and reviews on consumer-related sites such as Google, Zillow and Trulia. If an agent doesn’t register themselves on sites that allow objective reviews, ask why. No one can be expected to have perfect reviews from every client and some people troll businesses, but an agent with zero reviews really leaves you guessing;
  • Is the agent a “ghost?” It’s almost impossible these days not to have some mention on Internet search engines if you’re active in the real estate business, so if the agent you’re considering is not showing up, you may wonder if they have the experience level necessary for your transaction, whether they are able to drive traffic to your listing or network with other agents to show you the best listings before everyone else is bidding, and/or if they’re a full time, full service agent or just someone who dabbles on the side;
  • Is the agent a Realtor? The designation of “Realtor” is an important one, used by real estate agents who are members of the National Association of Realtors. Realtors must subscribe to the NAR’s Code of Ethics, which offers added protection and quality of service for the client.
DC Real Estate Agents And New Construction
That smiling face on the other side of the developer’s sales center belongs to a licensed real estate agent who represents the developer.  It may seem like a good idea to go directly to the source if you’re considering the purchase of new construction, but you can cost yourself advantages that a Realtor expert in development can provide, without gaining a discount. Read our page on Buying New Construction.
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