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Dual Agency in Canada: What Buyers and Sellers Should Know

Have you just secured your dream home, only to discover that your agent also represents the seller?

It’s understandable if you’re uneasy, but you don’t need to worry yet! Dual agency in Canada may sound like a risky proposition, but it can also come with some surprising benefits.

This blog will act as your guide through the complex world of dual agency, offering clarity on the legalities, and exploring both the advantages & disadvantages. So, let’s get started and explore the ins and outs of dual agency in Canada!

Dual Agency in Canada

What is a Dual Agency?

In the real estate industry, dual agency refers to a scenario where a single agent or brokerage represents both the buyer and seller in a transaction.

Although it can streamline communication and simplify processes, dual agency can also pose a challenge when it comes to impartial representation and conflicts of interest.

Therefore, it is crucial for all parties involved to have a thorough understanding of dual agency to ensure that transactions are carried out effectively.

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How Has Dual Agency Evolved?

Over the years, dual agency has undergone significant changes due to evolving regulations and industry standards.

To regulate dual agency, some provinces like British Columbia (B.C) have taken proactive measures, such as introducing legislation in 2018 to limit its practice.

This legislative action is part of a larger trend in the country, toward promoting transparency and safeguarding the interests of both buyers and sellers in real estate transactions.

Pros of Dual Agency

Enhanced Communication Channels:

When a single agent or brokerage represents both the buyer and seller in a transaction, communication between the two parties can be direct and efficient.

This can help expedite the transaction process and ensure that both parties have clear and accurate information throughout the negotiation process.

Such enhanced communication can also improve the overall experience for both parties.

Streamlined Transaction Processes:

Dual agency can help expedite the transaction process by reducing complexities.

With a single intermediary handling negotiations and paperwork, there is less room for error, miscommunication, or misunderstandings.

This can help reduce delays and lead to faster deal closures. Buyers and sellers can benefit from a smoother and more efficient transaction process, saving them time and effort.

Upheld Confidentiality:

In a dual agency, both the buyer and seller work with a single agent or brokerage.

This can provide greater confidentiality for both parties, as they interact with a single agent bound by strict confidentiality agreements.

This ensures that sensitive information remains secure and protected throughout the transaction, giving both parties peace of mind.

Comprehensive Market Insight:

Dual agents, representing both buyers and sellers, often possess comprehensive market insight.

This insight can provide valuable information and guidance to clients, helping them make well-informed decisions in the competitive real estate market.

By having a deep understanding of the market, dual agents can provide their clients with an advantage, helping them to make the best decision possible. This can lead to better outcomes for both buyers and sellers.

Cons of Dual Agency

Conflict of Interest Dilemma:

Dual agency in real estate is often associated with conflicts of interest.

This is because a single agent or brokerage represents both the buyer and seller, which can make it difficult for them to provide impartial advice and representation.

As their loyalties may be divided, it raises questions about their impartiality and creates an ethical dilemma.

Advocacy Limitations:

One of the drawbacks of dual agency is that neither party receives exclusive representation.

As a result, the agent must balance the interests of both parties during negotiations, which can compromise their advocacy and protection.

This can leave both parties feeling that their agent is not fully representing their interests, creating limitations in the representation they receive.

Negotiation Leverage Constraints:

Dual agency can potentially limit the negotiation power of both parties.

Agents may find it challenging to negotiate favourable terms for their clients without showing favouritism towards either the buyer or seller.

This can leave both parties feeling like they did not get the best deal possible, leading to dissatisfaction on both sides.

Limited Specialization:

Dual agents may lack the specialized knowledge or expertise that dedicated buyer’s agents or seller’s agents offer.

As their focus is divided between the needs of both parties, they may not be able to provide tailored advice and representation, particularly in complex real estate transactions.

This means that clients may miss out on the benefits of working with an agent who specializes in their specific needs.

Dual Agency Regulations Across Canadian Provinces

Real estate transactions in Canada are regulated at the provincial level.

Each province has its own set of rules and regulations governing dual agency, which is the practice of a real estate agent representing both the buyer and seller in a transaction. Here’s a breakdown of dual agency regulations across Canadian provinces:

British Columbia (BC):

In BC, dual agency has been heavily restricted by recent legislative changes.

Since June 15, 2018, dual agency has been banned in all real estate transactions except for underserved areas where separate representation is impractical.

In dual agency situations, agents must disclose their relationship to both parties, follow strict guidelines to avoid conflicts of interest and maintain confidentiality.


In Alberta, a dual agency is known as a designated agency, where agents from the same brokerage can represent both the buyer and seller.

However, to ensure impartiality, each party must have an agent, preferably from different geographical locations within the brokerage.

Agents are required to obtain consent from both parties and disclose any conflicts of interest.


In Saskatchewan, the Association of Saskatchewan Realtors has established rules and limitations for dual agency situations.

Agents acting as dual agents must refrain from providing advice on pricing or motivations without express permission, maintain fairness towards both parties, and disclose material defects about the property.

Written consent from both the buyer and seller is required before proceeding with a dual-agency transaction.


In Manitoba, dual agency is referred to as limited joint representation.

Agents must obtain written consent from both parties and disclose the limitations of the representation, including restrictions on disclosing pricing or motivations without consent.

Agents are obligated to disclose material defects and provide impartial information to both parties.


In Ontario, dual agency is recognized as multiple representation, but proposed changes may limit its practice.

The proposed changes include doubling fines for unethical behaviour and implementing stricter regulations to protect consumers.

The impact of these changes on rural communities and commercial sales, where dual agency is more common, is still under consideration.


In Quebec, dual agency is permitted, but there are no specific regulations governing its practice.

Agents are expected to adhere to ethical standards and avoid conflicts of interest, though there are no explicit requirements for notifying buyers or sellers about the dual agency relationship.


Realtor Acting for Both a Seller and a Buyer?

The real estate industry often involves dual agency scenarios where agents represent both the buyer and the seller.

However, this may create a conflict of interest if the agent is also acting as the buyer or seller in the transaction. Such a situation can raise ethical concerns, as realtors are bound by ethical standards to prioritize their clients’ interests over their own.

In such cases, written consent may be required, and realtors should seek independent representation to maintain impartiality and transparency. The regulations governing dual agency vary by province in Canada, each with its own set of standards and guidelines.

Seeking independent representation upholds professional integrity and ensures adequate representation and protection for all parties involved in the transaction process.

To Sum Up

Dual agency in Canadian real estate transactions presents a delicate balance between opportunities and challenges.

While it can provide benefits such as streamlined communication and simplified processes, it also poses concerns related to impartial representation and conflicts of interest.

To understand the Canadian real estate market with confidence and clarity, all stakeholders need to stay informed about changes in the dual agency landscape, fostering transparency and integrity in real estate transactions.

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