Having one real estate agent represent the buyer and the seller of a property is like using the same attorney
Having one real estate agent represent the buyer and the seller of a property is like using the same attorney to represent the plaintiff and defendant in a lawsuit.

Dual representation, also called dual agency, occurs when the same real estate agent represents both the seller and the buyer of a property. While the definition of “dual agency” varies by state ― in some places “dual agency” is defined as when two agents from the same company represent the buyer and the seller in a transaction — four U.S. states flat out forbid it. (Other states allow workarounds, such as requiring the parties involved to sign disclosure forms or asking another agent in the same office to take one of the parties.) It was also recently banned in British Columbia in Canada.

Consumer Advocates in American Real Estate, a nonprofit that works against conflicts of interests in residential real estate, calls dual agency “the biggest scam in real estate.” But the reasons make sense only if you understand how real estate transactions are conducted, which many first-time home buyers don’t.

Real estate agents make money only when they collect a commission at the point a house deal is completed, often called the close of escrow. Until then, an agent doesn’t make anything and in fact incurs expenses on your behalf. If you are a seller, the agent is spending money marketing your home, placing ads, creating or…