When buying a home, avoid dual-agency

The New York Timesreports on a developing trend on Long Island: home buyers seeking out their own real estate agents to represent them exclusively in the selection and negotiation process.

The Times article is confusingly worded, but the most important takeaway for consumers is this: If you stumble into an open house and want to make an offer or see an ad in the paper, you should pretty much never use the listing agent as your agent on the deal.

Dual-agency is the legal term for a situation where the buyer and seller are represented by the same agent in a deal and while it's legal, it's worth avoiding. Last month I looked at an episode of HGTV's The Property Shop that showed just a few of the things that can go wrong because of the conflicts of interest associated with dual-agency.