June 21, 2024

Understanding Dual Agency in Real Estate

When it comes to buying or selling a property, it’s common to hire a real estate agent to help navigate the process. But what happens when the same agent represents both the buyer and the seller? This is known as dual agency, and it can raise some important questions and concerns.

The Role of a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent’s primary responsibility is to their client. Whether they are representing the buyer or the seller, their duty is to advocate for their client’s best interests. This means negotiating the best price, terms, and conditions on behalf of their client.

The Conflict of Interest

When a real estate agent represents both the buyer and the seller, a conflict of interest can arise. How can an agent fully represent the best interests of both parties when their interests may be at odds? This is a valid concern that many people have when considering dual agency.

Disclosure and Informed Consent

In many jurisdictions, real estate agents are required to disclose their role as a dual agent and obtain informed consent from both parties. This means that both the buyer and the seller must be made aware that the agent is representing both sides of the transaction and agree to it in writing.

Benefits of Dual Agency

While there are concerns about dual agency, there can also be some benefits. For one, it can streamline the process, as there is only one agent involved. This can lead to better communication and a smoother transaction. Additionally, dual agency can sometimes result in a lower commission for the agent, which could potentially lead to savings for both the buyer and the seller.

Drawbacks of Dual Agency

On the other hand, there are also drawbacks to dual agency. One of the main concerns is the potential for a conflict of interest. If an agent is representing both the buyer and the seller, they may not be able to fully advocate for one party without compromising the other. This can lead to a lack of trust and transparency in the transaction.

Alternatives to Dual Agency

To avoid the potential conflicts of dual agency, some people choose to work with separate agents. The buyer would have their own agent, known as a buyer’s agent, and the seller would have their own agent, known as a listing agent. This ensures that each party has someone solely focused on their best interests.

Consider Your Options

When deciding whether to work with a dual agent or separate agents, it’s important to consider your own comfort level, as well as the specific circumstances of the transaction. In some cases, dual agency may be a viable option, while in others, separate representation may be preferred.

Transparency and Communication

Regardless of whether you choose dual agency or separate representation, it’s crucial to prioritize transparency and open communication with your real estate agent. Make sure you fully understand their role and responsibilities, and don’t hesitate to ask questions or voice any concerns you may have.


In the world of real estate, the question of whether a real estate agent can represent both the buyer and the seller is a complex one. While it is possible for an agent to act as a dual agent, there are important considerations and potential drawbacks to be aware of. Ultimately, the decision of whether to pursue dual agency or separate representation should be based on careful consideration and a thorough understanding of your own needs and preferences.