It is possible but it’s a bad idea. Sometimes both parties are talked into using the same Settlement Agent, often by the Real Estate Agent, for a supposed reason like:
- you will each pay a lower fee if you use the same Settlement Agent, or
- the settlement will go through “more smoothly” if you both use the same agent.
You may pay a lower fee, but only if no issues arise. If an issue arises you may pay a much higher fee, as explained below. And issues do arise on a substantial number of settlements. These issues are not usually serious and are mostly resolved amicably and fairly. But they are resolved fairly only when each party has an independent professional pushing their client’s side of the issue hard. But they can’t do that if they’re acting for both sides!
If a problem arises where the Settlement Agent is acting for both parties they immediately have a conflict of interest and cannot fairly represent the interests of both sides. In that case professional ethics would require the Settlement Agent to cease acting for both parties. This would lead to each party incurring additional fees and delay as a result of engaging a new professional to take over their side of the settlement.
Worse, there could be a case where the other party has breached the contract but you would not be aware of it unless your Settlement Agent brought it to your attention. The problem could cost you thousands of dollars to fix when you become aware it down the track. Your Settlement Agent has an incentive to let it go so that they don’t have to cease acting for the parties and lose their fees for taking the settlement through to completion. Of course a reputable Settlement Agent would never do that, but every industry has that element which is prepared to cut corners. You don’t want to put yourself in a position where this risk could even arise.
And your settlement could only go through ” more smoothly” by using the same Settlement Agent as the other party if the Agent cuts corners. The same amount of work has to be done on each side, regardless of whether the Agent is representing one party or both.