There is a lot written about the pitfalls of dual agency and there is a lot of good advice to buyers that they should avoid it.
There is not so much written about how either buyers OR agents CAN avoid it - or how they can be sure they will avoid it.
The choice has not been made clear.
Part of the problem is the deceptive way in which many agents advertise. Much advertising violates both the NAR code of ethics (lets face it most real estate agents are members of NAR and are subject to NAR's COE.) and federal and state laws regarding deceptive and misleading advertising. Of course we all know that it is (currently) highly unlikely that either NAR or government agencies will take action against those who engage in such advertising.
What do I mean - you may ask. When a real estate licensee advertises real estate services and specifically states that they will act as a particular type of fiduciary a consumer should be able to rely on that representation. In fact, usually they can not rely on it - and as much as the agent doing the advertising may WANT to provide the advertised service - they may not be in a position to do so.
The most common example of this is the agent that advertises that they will be 'your buyers agent'. They have not met you, they don't know what -or where- you may want to buy. If they work for a company that also lists homes and provide seller agent services can they be 'your buyers agent'? They can if they ONLY show you houses their company did not list. So, if their company lists homes, they may not even know AFTER they meet you if they will be able to provide the advertised service to which you responded. Once their company listing is on the buyer's radar - the rules suddenly change.
So how can an agent KNOW that they will be able to provide the buyer agent service they advertised?
They can work for a company that only represents buyers. It is a business choice to work for a company that operates on both sides of the transaction divide. The best choice may be to work for one that does not.
Agents wanting to clear their conscience should check out the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents. NAEBA, at http://www.naeba.info and either join or start their own company that qualifies for NAEBA membership. Then, you really can be an exclusive buyers agent (EBA). You may find that it is the best business move you ever made.
Consumers looking for an exclusive buyers agent should go to http://www.naeba.org and ask for a list of area NAEBA member companies.
www.NJHomeBuyer.com Realty -a NAEBA member company since 2002