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Dual Agency

OK, this week you get two blogs for the price of one. Recently I was asked why I don't do dual agency as a real estate agent. One reason is because I am an attorney and I believe it is a conflict of interest for me to represent both sides of a transaction. Another reason is because I don't believe anyone can fairly represent competing sides to a transaction. But the main reason is because I align myself with either my buyer or seller and stay on that side of the transaction because that is what my client expects and deserves.

I read one opinion on the subject of dual agency that used buying a car as an example of dual agency that works. When you buy a car, you know the salesman works for the dealership but you don't hire someone to assist you in negotiating the purchase of the car. The author likened this to dual agency in selling real estate when the buyer doesn't use a separate agent to assist in negotiating the purchase of a home. Needless to say, I don't agree with this particular author and present this scenario. If you were getting divorced from your spouse, would you use the same attorney to represent you that your spouse is using? Hopefully, you are never in this situation, however, I think you can see that if you were, that you would want someone on your side to represent your interests.

When a real estate agent provides dual agency in representing both the buyer and seller of a specific property, ultimately, the agent must not advise either party with respect to price. Also, the agent can not share with either party confidential information and can not suggest or recommend questions to be asked or due diligence to be requested. When I represent a buyer, I ask a lot of questions of the listing agent, sometimes a lot more than what would typically be requested, but always enough so that my buyer feels comfortable with making an offer on a property and proceeding forward with the purchase. If I were to do dual agency, I couldn't advise my buyer as to what to ask or request. I also couldn't advise my seller as to what is the right price for the current market. Both the seller and buyer are left on their own to decide these things, without guidance from the dual agent. It is exactly this type of guidance that really is a big part of the service a real estate agent provides and is compensated for. It's almost like going to the dentist and cleaning your teeth yourself without the dentist cleaning them for you or providing you with his/her professional opinion on the condition of your teeth.

So, while other real estate agents may choose to do dual agency, I will continue to represent each of my clients to the best of my ability and in each client's best interest – one transaction at a time, and only on one side of each transaction.

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