Can the same attorney represent both seller and buyer?

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Can the same attorney represent both seller and buyer?

A neighbor is selling their property to a buyer who has retained an engineer to draw up plans for a new apartment building. The seller is being pressured by the buyer and their attorney to accept the plans even though the seller wants to pull out of the deal. The buyer’s lawyer also represents the seller! “We both give the attorney money and when we (seller and buyer) disagree, the attorney will mediate” the seller says. Is it legal for an attorney to represent both parties in a real estate deal? It seems to be a conflict of interest. What can I tell the seller to do?

Asked on August 28, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Under the laws of all states in this country it is allowable although not advisable for one person such as a real estate agent or an attorney to represent both the buyer and the seller in a real estate situation. When this happens, it is called a "dual agency". Inherent in a dual agency is the ever present conflict of one person representing two parties who have opposite goals.

In the matter you are writing about, I suggest that the seller fire his or her attorney and get a separate independent attorney for representation in the real estate matter you have written about.


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