Market Wise Q&A: Dealing with Dual Agency Could Mean Double Trouble!

by Pat Kapowich for the the San Jose Mercury New Market Wise column Saturday, March 1, 2008

Q: We are thinking about making an offer on a property, The seller’s agent is insisting we make the offer through him because we attended his open house. Can he do that? We are not comfortable with using the same agent. Will we lose out on the home if we hire our own broker?


A: Don’t worry, I’m sure the agent would be glad to see an offer presented to his sellers, no matter who is handling the buyer. You are wise to seek your own professional. Dual-agency exists anytime the same real estate brokerage firm is representing both the buyer and the seller. Unfortunately, while the licensee is acting in such a transaction might be striving for twice the compensation, done correctly, dual-agency is three times the work, four time the responsibility, and five times the liability.

These transactions can easily produce a regretful seller, or, more likely, a remorseful buyer. There is nothing more foolhardy than a seller promoting a dual-agency situation, hoping to save commission dollars. Most brokers don’t know the ins and outs of properly operating as a dual-agent. Keep in mind, too that unhappy buyers are apt to file claims, which usually include naming their agent. It’s problematic (expensive) when it’s the seller’s agent who purportedly failed the buyer.

Do you have any questions for the new real estate Q&A Market Wise column in the SJMN? If so, please email them to: