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Dual Agency and Designated Presentation

Buyer representation has increased the number of transactions where a REALTOR may have overlapping brokerage relationships.

This occurs when a buyer client of a real estate company wants to buy one of that company's listings. Even if different REALTORS are working with the different clients, their dual loyalties are created through their company, which has legal and contractual obligations to both clients.

Virginia law allows a real estate firm or agent to represent both sides of a real estate transaction as long as all the parties consent... in writing, prior to contract negotiations.

There are two directions in which the transaction can proceed:

Option 1: standard dual representation

Scenario: A buyer client wants to buy property listed by his/her agent.

Because the company has a legal obligation to represent both parties, and may know confidential information about one party of value to the other party, there are limits on what the company or agent can do.

In effect, dual representation limits the REALTOR to a neutral role.

The company or agent must not disclose any information that is confidential or would create a negotiating advantage for either client, such as if the seller will take less or the buyer will pay more. Price, terms and motivation are not to be discussed with the opposite party.

--- I recommend this option if the buyer is comfortable with that REALTOR and does not feel at a disadvantage at having lost full representation.

Option 2: designated dual representation

Scenario: A buyer client wants to buy property listed within his agent's company and NOT listed by his agent.

In this case, the real estate company designates the buyer's agent to represent the buyer and the listing agent to represent the seller. The broker oversees the transaction and represents each party. Each designated agent will offer full service to his client.

The broker maintains the confidentiality of any client information which could be of value to either side in negotiations; for example...the seller had a financial setback...or the buyer just won the lottery.

The two designated reps must not share confidential information, but they are free to gather important information from outside sources, free to help with negotiations, and will be thinking first of their client's needs and wishes.

--- I recommend this option. It keeps the playing field level, offers full representation to all parties and clearly delineates responsibilities.


As a buyer or seller you are not required to agree to either situation. If you are uncomfortable and refuse the dual agency or designated representative relationships, the agent must choose which party to represent, and the other party (buyer or seller)is free to arrange other representation for that transaction.

Thanks for agency material provided by:
The Virginia Association of REALTORS
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Overview - As Virginia changes from "Buyer Beware" to "Seller, Take Care"... Client? Customer? Don't know the difference? You should read this!
Seller Representation - Information for both sellers and buyers
Buyer Representation - A Concept long overdue! "Need to Know" information for buyers and sellers.
Back to the Agency Page - If you're buying real estate and are NOT represented by an agent, think again!!