The dual-agency double standard

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Q: I will be purchasing a vacation home this spring. The home I’m interested in is currently offered by a real estate agent. This agent will be acting as a "double" agent — working for me and the person who has listed her property with the agent. How does this work?

A: I find your choice of words intriguing. This situation — where the listing agent also represents the buyer of a property — is known in real estate jargon as "dual agency," but perhaps there’s some significance to your use of the term "double agent." Dual agency simply implies that one brokerage or salesperson is working as the legal agent of both buyer and seller.

However, the term double agent connotes someone who pretends to spy on a target for another party, but is in fact loyal to the target.