Dual Agency and Why You Should Avoid It
When selling or purchasing a home, the buyer and seller are customarily represented by a separate real estate agent. Each agent advises their client and negotiates to get them the best possible deal. Dual agency occurs when the same real estate agent represents both the buyer and the seller in a real estate negotiation.
It is clear to see why a real estate agent would want to represent both sides of a home sale - they get a double commission. However, as the buyer or seller, you should be very leery of dual agency for one main reason:
The agent can't negotiate for you
One of the main reasons, if not the main reason you hire a real estate agent is to use their expertise to negotiate the best possible deal for you. But in a dual agency situation, the agent is prohibited from offering advice to one side that may hurt the other. So an agent can't tell the buyer what the seller is willing to accept and vise versa. Agents can't even recommend a suggested price to either buyer or seller. So if a buyer asks the agent if they think the price is fair, or if the seller asks if the terms of buyer's offer are okay, the agent can't offer any advice to either party. It should be immediately clear why this situation should be avoided.
Dual agency is, as one would imagine, illegal in several states. Unfortunately, it is legal in Illinois. Agents may try to take advantage of less-experienced home buyers by asserting a legal right to do it, and they may have various excuses to assuage your fears. But if you are presented with a dual agency situation, just say no.