A dual agent is one who works for both the home buyer and the seller.
You typically end up in this situation if the agent who listed the property is also your agent.
You might inadvertently put yourself in this situation if you buy a home from the agent hosting an open house.
Avoid dual agent situations when possible, because an agent representing the seller and the buyer has an extreme conflict of interest, and since they are being paid by the seller if the deal goes through, who do you think is holding the better end of the stick in this transaction? The seller.
Sometimes an agent in this situation will suggest you use another agent in their office to help you close the deal. This is called a “designated agent.”
You could also end up in this situation if the home your buyer’s agent showed you is listed by another agent with the same agency.
Perhaps by coincidence that agent has a property they listed that is just right for you.
This happens quite often when you’re working with an agency that has a lot of listings in your area.
A designated agent situation is better than a dual agent one, but still is not ideal, as agents in the same office can inadvertently let out information about you, such as “Oh, my client really loved that home.”
Such comments could leave the seller’s agent with the option of telling her client “hold firm on the price.
The buyer really wants this home.”
Tip: An easy way to avoid too many dual and designated agency situations is to work with buyer’s agents from smaller agencies. You can find great, seasoned agents at small firms.
Choose one who knows your target area really well. And if they are from a smaller agency, they will have fewer chances of you falling in love with one of their own listings, thus avoiding the whole dual and designated agency situations.
For more home buying tips see my book “Your First Home: The Smart Way to Get It and Keep It.