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Currently, when buying and selling property in Ontario, one agent is allowed to represent both the buyer and the seller. This practice, referred to as double ending, is now being reconsidered. The government recently proposed changes that would prohibit it -- with some exceptions. If the proposal is accepted, double ending will only be allowed when the real estate transaction is privately arranged between family members, or in remote areas where there is a shortage of real estate agents.

The concern of authorities is the potential for unethical behaviour of real estate agents. Each agent has an obligation to his or her client, and the needs of the buyer and seller are at opposite ends of the spectrum. It makes little sense that an agent can work to obtain the highest price for an owner who wants to sell a property, while at the same time promising the buyer to negotiate the lowest possible price or best terms.

Under such circumstances, it 's hard to understand how an agent can provide either party with effective advocacy or even meet his or her obligations. The divided loyalty created by double ending has the potential to leave consumers vulnerable. However, the proposed changes will allow different estate agents from the same brokerage to navigate a real estate transaction in which one represents the buyer and the other looks after the seller.

Ontario residents who are considering real estate sales or purchases may find comfort in relying upon the guidance provided by experienced real estate lawyers. Having a legal representative can be a significant asset during a transaction that might be one of the biggest deals in a person's life. A lawyer can explain the legal requirements and ensure all agreements are fair and in compliance with applicable laws.

Source: huffingtonpost.ca, "Ontario Gov't Moves To Stop Realtors From Representing Both Buyers and Sellers", Allison Jones, June 28, 2017

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