Despite strict laws that require real estate agents to disclose to whom they owe their allegiance, many people still don’t know if their agent is working for them or for the other side.
According to the NAR’s 2008 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, less than one-third of all buyers are told whom their agents represent at their first meeting. One in four others are told, but not until they make an offer on a house, and the rest are told “some other time” – if at all.
When you consider that the issue of agent representation can have a major effect on the price a buyer pays, that’s just unacceptable. At a minimum, consumers should know what kind of agent they have and specifically whom that agent is responsible to in the transaction.
With that in mind, here’s a quick rundown of the different types of agents:
Listing Agent – The seller hires this agent and, therefore, his fiduciary responsibility is to the seller and no one else. *Also sometimes called the seller’s agent.
Double Agent – This agent typically works both sides of the fence, acting as a seller’s agent in some deals and a buyer’s agent in others.
Exclusive Buyer’s Agent – This professional works only for homebuyers. He never lists houses. Even though he is usually paid a share of the listing agent’s commission, he assesses the fair-market value of a property in which the buyer has an interest and helps him and only him negotiate the best price and terms.
Dual Agent – This agent simultaneously represents both the buyer and seller of the same home.