What is Single Agency? (And why does it matter?)

Posted by Round Table Realty on Thursday, September 23rd, 2021 at 11:32am.

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single agency

In Florida, Realtors can have three different relationships with the people they’re serving. Those three relationships are transaction broker, single agent, and no-brokerage agreement. 

Think of it in terms of a football game. A single agent is a team coach. They are there to guide their team using all the experience and information they have, minute by minute, to a victory. The single agent is tasked with helping their team win.
A transaction broker is a referee. They are there to ensure both teams play by the rules. The transaction broker maintains that the game is played in its entirety and the results are recorded. 

By default, all Florida Realtors are transaction brokers. They must deal honestly and fairly, account for all funds, and fulfill their duties with skill, care, and diligence. That’s the law. However, they cannot act as a fiduciary, meaning they cannot act solely in their customers’ interests. They have to act in the interest of the transaction. Again, that’s the law.

Some brokerages, including Round Table Realty, allow its agents to act as single agents. Single agents offer everything transaction brokers do, but they also act as a fiduciary. They’re legally able to offer confidentiality, loyalty, obedience, and full-disclosure.

You’re probably asking yourself, “Don’t all real estate agents act in the best interest of their clients?!” They do, but only to the extent that they’re permitted to by law. Single agents have the ability to offer a lot more.

Here’s an example. 

If you find a condo you love and you tell your Realtor you want to offer a full asking price of $200,000, your Realtor must do exactly that. He/she will write up the offer and submit it to the listing agent.
Now let’s say when your Realtor speaks to the listing agent after submitting your offer, he/she finds out that the homeowners would be willing to accept $150,000 for their condo. A transaction broker cannot tell you that by law. A transaction broker’s job is only to broker the deal, not work on your behalf. However, a single agent can tell you that and work with you to make a new offer. You just potentially saved $50,000.

(A no brokerage relationship is far less common and usually only occurs when a single agent Realtor is representing a seller and another agent from the same brokerage is representing the buyer.)

Not all brokerages allow their Realtors to act as single agents. Why not? Because it’s far more complicated than acting as a transaction broker. There are more legal details, which means Realtors have to be appropriately trained and receive ongoing continuing education regarding their duties and responsibilities as a single agent. That’s a lot of work! And at the end of the day, if agents aren’t properly trained, the brokerage is liable for their missteps. That’s a lot of pressure.

So why did Round Table Realty choose to allow its agents to act as single agents? Because it’s the only way we believe we can put people before property. We want our clients to know that we are professionally, morally, and most importantly, legally in their corner. We’re here because we genuinely care about helping people. 

If you’re looking for a Realtor, please consider asking us more about single agency. If you are a Realtor, ask yourself if you understand the different relationships and if you’re acting in accordance with the law!

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