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Can Dual Agency Realtors Be Completely Ethical??

Mortgage and Lending with First Time Home Buyers, Pre-approvals, Fixed Rates 172223

Can Dual Agency Realtors Be Completely Ethical?


Let me be clear, I’m not taking the stance that they can’t…but I am curious to hear what you as agents think.  The question was posed on a video blog this morning from the boys at TBWS and I thought it brought to light a few questions and some points that make it difficult for an agent to be on both sides.  

My concern is more about perception than reality.  What happens when a buyer feels like you have the sellers interest at heart more so than theirs, or vice versa?  I’m sure it’s happened and it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, it matters what the client feels.

Dual Agency seems like a great idea(spoken like a true outsider, I’m sure)on the surface.  You control the transaction, there’s no second agent to go through and negotiate with, the referral opportunities are double, and lets face it..more money, right?!  But for those of you that have done it…is it a double edge sword? 

I’d love to hear your comments and experiences on this!


Can Dual Agency Realtors Be Completely Ethical?

Posted by



Tamara Elliott-Deering
Central Metro Realty - Austin, TX

Here in Texas, dual agency is practiced by the broker and the broker assigns representatives to work with each party.  If a sales agent is representing both sides they are not really a dual agent, they represent the seller and they need to disclose that fact to the buyer.  I have done this twice but I don't like to do it because I don't feel like the buyer is getting the best representation that they can.  My advice to a buyer would be hire a realtor that you trust because it doesn't cost you anything and they can give you a lot more information that a Realtor who represents the seller can.


May 19, 2011 04:39 AM
Mike Carlier
Lakeville, MN
More opinions than you want to hear about.

If a dual agent does his/her/their job(s), they are doing nothing to advocate the position of either party in the negotiation of a transaction.  Since most agreements allow the client to opt into or out of dual agency, there does not seem to be an ethics issue.  Does dual agency ever benefit the consumer?  Probably not.

May 19, 2011 04:46 AM
Chad McDowell
First Time Home Buyers, Pre-approvals, Fixed Rates - Bothell, WA
FHA and VA Mortgage Loans Snohomish County, WA

Tamara-that seems like good advice to me, if it doesnt cost them anything anyway it seems like it would be in the clients best interest to get an agent that specifically represents them. 


Mike-I think your point that it doesnt actually benefit the consumer probably says it best.  Even though it may be fine, it doesnt bring a benefit, so is it worth the possible conflict of interests?

May 19, 2011 05:18 AM
Jeff Pearl
Samson Properties / LIC in VA - Lovettsville, VA
Full Service Full Time Realtor

I'm working on a contract now where buyer doesn't have an agent. He asked my why I didn't have him fill out anything disclosing dual agency. I told him I'm not a dual agent, I represent the seller, and you are an unrepresented buyer. You don't need an agent to buy anything. I provide you with everything I know about the property, I disclose everyhting there is to disclose, I'll answer all of your questions, and guide you through everything you need to know from contract to closing, but I'm not a dual agent. And, I don't double charge the seller on commission. My commission will be 3%, the other 3% that would normally go to a buyer agent just gets added to the sellers net. This happens to be a 15+ acre lot where buyer wants to build a new home. If he did have an agent, the agent would not be able to provide the buyer with 20% the information that I am able to provide. The buyer just tole me what he wanted to offer, I wrote it up, took it to seller, seller countered a few items, took it back to buyer, etc, until they reached an agreement that they were both comfortable with, then we ratified contract.

May 19, 2011 12:09 PM
Chad McDowell
First Time Home Buyers, Pre-approvals, Fixed Rates - Bothell, WA
FHA and VA Mortgage Loans Snohomish County, WA


Thanks for the comment.  That seems to me like you handled it the way it should be done.  I would think that most agents would see that as an opportunity to work both sides of the transaction, right?  I think you eliminate a lot of potential issues by explaining that you represent the buyer but you're here to help both sides as much as possible. 



May 20, 2011 05:47 AM
Bryan Robertson
Los Altos, CA

On the surface, an agent can do dual-agency in California and not have a conflict.  I don't double-end deals because I don't see, as Mike (#2) pointed out, how I can do my fiduciary duty.  Unfortunately, there are many agents who make a habit of practicing dual-agency, especially REO agents.

My personal rule is that I'd double-end a deal where the buyer and seller were sophisticated enough not to really need my advice and I'm just a facilitator.  In that case, with full disclosure, I'd be fine.  Otherwise, I just think it's not right.

May 21, 2011 04:01 AM