Many consumers are not aware of Virginia law as it pertains to dual agency in real estate (in which a single agent represents both the buyer and seller). In general, a “dual agent” is largely prohibited from offering advice to either side. In fact, in Maryland dual agency is illegal.
As published by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR), “The code of Virginia sets forth what services a dual agent cannot provide:
1. The agent will be unable to advise either seller or buyer as to the terms, offers or counteroffers (except, however, that the dual agent may have already provided such advice to the seller prior to representing the buyer); 2. The agent cannot advise the buyer as to the suitability of the property, its condition (other than to make any disclosures as required by law of any licensee representing a seller), and cannot advise either party as to repairs of the property (to make or request); 3. The agent cannot advise either party in any dispute that might later arise relating to the transaction; 4. The agent will be acting without knowledge of the client’s needs, client’s experience in the market, or client’s experience in handling real estate transactions unless he has gained that information from earlier contact with the client. Remember that either party may engage another licensee if additional representation is required.”