I have a personal policy of never representing both sides of the same transaction. I do not practice dual agency.
Definition: (per Pennsylvania Association of Realtors' Glossary of Real Estate Terms)
Dual Agency: A business relationship where the licensee, with written agreement from both parties, works for both the seller and the buyer in the same transaction. Dual agency will limit some of the duties owed to both parties. Dual agents cannot take any action that is adverse or detrimental to either the buyer or the seller in the transaction. For more details, see the explanation given in the Consumer Notice.
Many realtors ask me why I chose this policy, thereby limiting my income to only one side of the equation.
My job, as I see it, is to represent the interests of the person I am working for throughout all phases of the transaction, especially the negotiation phase. When an agent represents both sides, he has access to confidential information on both sides of the negotiation, and cannot, in my opinion, do a proper job representing the interests of the two parties involved. The agent ends up representing his own interests, in practical terms.
I think of it like a boxing match. Each boxer has a trainer in his corner to guide him between rounds. If each boxer was represented by the same trainer, and he gave advice to each boxer between rounds, which one is getting the best advice? Which one is the trainer really trying to help win? The trainer benefits no matter who wins. Does he really care if the advice he renders is good advice?
It is for these reasons that I have chosen to not practice dual agency. It may cut down on my income opportunities a bit, but I believe I will make up for it with repeat business from clients that know they got the most honest, dedicated level of service possible.