Understanding the concept of dual agency is essential when engaging in a real estate transaction in Massachusetts. While seemingly efficient, this arrangement carries significant risks that buyers and sellers must consider carefully.

There are significant downsides that make accepting a dual agent wrong.

I will provide the following information to educate you in-depth about dual agency:

  • What is dual agency in real estate?
  • What are the pros and cons?
  • Legal implication
  • Examples and scenario
  • Advice for buyers and sellers

In most traditional real estate transactions, there are two real estate agents. One represents a buyer, and the other a seller.

When one agent works with the buyer and seller, it becomes a dual-agency relationship. What you give up under this scenario is significant. The agent who once represented you no longer does. They become a neutral party.

By law, they will no longer be able to give you any advice! If this sounds awful, it’s because it is. Most people hire real estate agents for their guidance and expertise. All that gets thrown out the window when you accept dual agency.

The real estate agent is the only party that benefits from a dual agency scenario!

Dual Agency is a Conflict of Interest

Dual Agency is a Conflict of Interest!

Definition of Dual Agency

What is dual agency? Dual agency occurs when one real estate agent or brokerage represents the buyer and the seller in the same transaction.

This means the agent is tasked with balancing the interests of both parties, which can lead to inherent conflicts of interest.

The dual agent’s role is to facilitate the transaction without favoring either side, which is challenging in practice. What is even worse is that no advice can be given to either party.

Designated Agency Explained

In Massachusetts, dual agency can also occur when two agents within a company each represent a buyer and seller in the same transaction. This is called a designated agency.

This scenario is much different than a single-agent dual agency. With a designated agency, the buyer and seller have representation. Each agent is a fiduciary working for their respective client.

In single-agent dual agency, there is no fiduciary relationship.

Pros and Cons of Dual Agency


Efficiency: With a single agent handling both sides, communication and coordination can be streamlined. This can reduce the time spent on back-and-forth negotiations and simplify scheduling for showings, inspections, and closings.

Potential Cost Savings: Some agents offer discounted commission rates when they serve as dual agents. They earn the entire commission without splitting it with another agent. These savings can be passed on to the buyer or seller, making the transaction slightly cheaper.

Faster Transactions: With one agent managing the process, transactions might close more quickly. This is due to the reduced need for cross-agent communications and the ability to expedite decision-making processes.

I will be the first to tell you none of these benefits come anywhere close to the downsides of dual-agency! You could make significant mistakes by not getting proper advice from a real estate agent.


Conflict of Interest: An agent representing both parties cannot fully advocate for either side without compromising the other. For example, they might struggle to negotiate the best possible price for the seller while simultaneously trying to secure the lowest price for the buyer.

Limited Advice: Dual agents cannot provide advice. They must avoid the appearance of favoritism. This can leave both parties without the detailed, personalized advice they might receive from an independent agent dedicated to their interests.

That commission you think you saved could turn into being in the hole thousands of dollars.

Trust Issues: Buyers and sellers may question the agent’s loyalty and whether their interests are being fairly represented. That’s because they are not being represented. This lack of trust can complicate the transaction and lead to dissatisfaction.

Legal Risks: Dual agency increases the risk of legal disputes due to the inherent conflicts of interest. If the agent fails to disclose their dual role adequately or either party feels misrepresented, this can lead to legal action and potential penalties.

You’re Likely Going to Be Told It’s Legal Therefore, There is No Issues

In Massachusetts, many real estate agents practice dual agency. They hide behind the theory that it is legal, so it’s okay. Several states have made the practice illegal.

Unfortunately, some agents care more about double-siding a sale than doing what is best for the client that initially hired them.

The problem with this is that the agent explaining dual agency has a vested interest in the consumer saying yes to it. What happens next is that the agent does not explain why it is so harmful to a buyer or seller. They will gloss over anything negative.

For example, when I meet with a seller, I explain how dual agency works in Massachusetts. I let the seller know I would no longer represent them if they agreed. I could not advise them when an offer comes in or if there are home inspection negotiations.

Agents become order-takers and nothing more.

Essentially, I am letting them know that it is a terrible position for them. Agents who practice dual agency don’t do this. They want their clients to be fooled into accepting it.

Legal Implications and State-Specific Regulations

The legal landscape for dual agency varies significantly by state. Each state has regulations to address the potential conflicts of interest and ethical dilemmas inherent in dual agency.

In Massachusetts, dual agency is allowed but must be disclosed and agreed upon in writing by both parties. The agent must provide a detailed disclosure form outlining their duties and the potential conflicts of interest.

Far too many agents present a disclosure form to a buyer or seller and ask them to sign it. This is horrible but true. This kind of agent lacks any moral character. Their biggest concern is the chance of a big fat paycheck.

Real-Life Examples and Scenarios

Scenario 1: An agent represents both a buyer and a seller in a competitive housing market. The buyer wants the lowest price, while the seller seeks the highest. The agent, unable to advocate fully for either party, struggles to maintain neutrality. The buyer and the seller feel their interests are compromised, leading to dissatisfaction and potential disputes.

I have spoken to numerous people who have read my articles on dual agency, expressing this concern.

Scenario 2: A dual agent fails to disclose a material defect in the property to the buyer, prioritizing the sale completion. The buyer later discovers the issue, leading to legal action against the agent for breach of fiduciary duty. The seller also faces repercussions for the undisclosed defect, resulting in financial and legal complications.

Advice for Buyers and Sellers

Reject Dual Agency

Reject Dual Agency As a Buyer or Seller.


Seek Independent Representation: Hire a buyer’s agent to prioritize your interests. An independent agent can provide personalized advice, negotiate the best price, and advocate for your needs. They can provide due diligence and research any potential issues with the property.

They can warn you about defects or something you might be worried about down the street. A dual agent can’t do these things.

Request Full Disclosure: If considering dual agency, demand complete transparency about potential conflicts. Ensure you understand the agent’s limitations and the possible impact on the transaction.


Reject dual agency: Why would you want someone to become a neutral party when you’re paying them thousands, if not tens of thousands, in commission? Insist your listing agent does not practice dual agency.

If a buyer comes to your agent directly, they can remain working as a seller’s agent. I mention letting your real estate agent practice dual agency as a typical home seller mistake.

When conducting interviews to sell your house, seek a Realtor who will not become a dual agent.

Expert Opinions and Testimonials

A Real Estate Expert: “Dual agency can be a minefield. Buyers and sellers need independent advocates to navigate the complexities of real estate transactions. The inherent conflicts make it difficult for a single agent to provide the best service to both parties.”

In reaching out to Erika Rogers with Red Rock Real Estate for her take on Dual Agents:

“Dual agency can be a recipe for disaster. Buyers and sellers need independent advocates to navigate the complexities of real estate transactions. The inherent conflicts make it difficult for a single agent to provide the best service to both parties. For instance, an agent representing both sides may struggle with loyalty, confidentiality, and negotiating the best price, as they must balance the interests of both the buyer and the seller.

This dual role can lead to compromised advice and a lack of transparency, ultimately risking both clients’ satisfaction and financial interests.

Additionally, legal and ethical dilemmas may arise, further complicating the transaction and potentially leading to disputes or dissatisfaction. Buyers and sellers must have dedicated representation to ensure their interests are protected and advocated for throughout the process.”

A disgruntled home seller: “Our dual agent seemed more interested in closing the deal quickly than getting us the best price. We felt neglected and unsure if our interests were truly being considered.”

This is from a recent phone call I had with someone who was selling their home. The agent they were working with did not bother to discuss how dual agency works with them. They were very pissed off.


Dual agency presents significant challenges in real estate transactions. While it offers some efficiencies, the risks often outweigh the benefits. Buyers and sellers should carefully consider their options and seek independent representation to protect their interests.

Understanding state-specific regulations and potential conflicts can help you navigate dual-agency situations more effectively. Prioritize transparency, disclosure, and ethical practices to mitigate the inherent risks of dual agency. This will ensure a smoother, more satisfactory real estate transaction.