Buyer’s Real Estate Agent
When buying real estate, you may have several choices as to how a real estate firm can work with you. They can represent you as a buyers agent, a dual agent or a seller’s agent. A buyers agent represents only you. A dual agent represents both you and the seller. A seller’s agent represents only the seller. Some agents will offer you a choice of these services. Others may not.
Buyer’s Agent Duties
- Promote your best interests
- Be loyal to you
- Follow your lawful instructions
- Provide you with all material facts that could influence your decisions
- Use reasonable skill, care and diligence, and
- Account for all monies they handle for you
Once you have agreed for an agent or firm to be your buyer’s agent, they may not give any confidential information about you to the sellers or their agents without your permission. Avoid telling the agent anything you would not want a seller to know until this agreement in place.
To make sure you and the firm/agent have a clear understanding of what your relationship will be, you may want to have a written agreement. However, some firms may be willing to represent you without a written agreement. But if you decide to make an offer to purchase a particular property, the agent must obtain a written agency agreement before writing the offer. If you do not sign it, the agent can no longer represent and assist you. They are also no longer required to keep information about you confidential.
Be sure to read and understand any agency agreement before you sign it. Once signed, the agent must supply you with a copy.
Services and Compensation:
Whether you have a written or unwritten agreement, a buyer’s agent will perform a number of services for you. These may include helping you:
- Find a suitable property
- Arrange financing
- Learn more about the property and
- Otherwise promote your best interests
If you have a written agency agreement, the agent can also help you prepare and submit a written offer to the seller.
A buyer’s agent can be compensated in different ways. For example, you can pay the agent out of your own pocket. Or the agent may seek compensation from the seller or listing agent first, but require you to pay if the listing agent refuses. Whatever the case, be sure your compensation arrangement with your buyer’s agent is spelled out in a buyer agency agreement before you make an offer to purchase property. Be sure you carefully read and understand the compensation provision.
Dual Agent Duties
You may permit a firm/agent to represent you and the seller at the same time. This “dual agency relationship” is most likely to happen if you become interested in a property listed with your buyer’s agent or the agent’s firm. If this occurs and you have not already agreed to a dual agency relationship in your buyer agency agreement, your buyer’s agent will ask you to amend the agreement or sign a separate agreement permitting them to act as agent for you and the seller. It may be difficult for a dual agent to advance the interests of both the buyer and seller. Nevertheless, a dual agent must treat both fairly and equally. Although the dual agent owes them the same duties, buyers and sellers can prohibit dual agents from divulging certain confidential information about them to the other party.
Designated Dual Agency:
Some firms also offer a form of dual agency called “designated dual agency” where one agent in the firm represents the seller and another agent represents the buyer. This option may allow each “designated agent” to more fully represent each party.
If you choose the “dual agency” option, remember since a dual agent’s loyalty is divided between parties, it is especially important that you have a clear understanding of
- What your relationship is with the dual agent and
- What the agent will be doing for you in the transaction
This can best be accomplished by putting the agreement in writing at the earliest possible time.
Seller’s Agent Working With a Buyer
If the real estate agent or firm that you contact does not offer buyer agency or you do not want them to act as your buyer agent, you can still work with the firm and its agents. However, they will be acting as the seller’s agent or “subagent”. They can still help you find and purchase a property and provide many of the same services as a buyer’s agent. The agent must be fair with you and provide any “material facts” (such as a leaky roof) about properties.
But remember, the agent represents the seller—not you—and therefore must try to obtain the best possible price and terms for the seller’s property. Furthermore, a seller’s agent is required to give the seller any information about you (even personal, financial or confidential information) that would help the seller in the sale of their property. Agents must tell you in writing if they are sellers’ agents before you say anything that can help the seller.
Until you are sure that an agent is not a seller’s agent, you should avoid saying anything you do not want a seller to know.
Sellers’ agents are compensated by the selle