BrokerageIndustry News

From subagency to non-agency: a history

Beyond Dual Agency

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A generation ago, real estate brokers probably didn't drift off to sleep each night dreaming that someday they would be able to work with buyers and sellers in half a dozen different legal relationships. For most of the last century, the legal relationships between brokers and their clients were simple: Listing brokers represented sellers, and agents who worked with buyers did so as "subagents" of the listing broker. All of the agents involved in a transaction owed their allegiance to the seller, and buyers were unrepresented. Today, depending on the laws in their state, brokers may be permitted to act as subagents, single agents, disclosed dual agents, designated agents, transaction brokers, or as providers of "ministerial" services to unrepresented "customers." (View an interactive map showing how states define agency and non-agency relationships.) One reason agency relationships are so complex is the brokerage industry's determination to pres...