What is a Buyer's Agent?

Adam Hill
Adam Hill
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

The process of buying a home is a complicated one, especially for a first-time home buyer. For any home buyer, it may be beneficial to employ the services of a buyer's agent. A buyer's agent is a real estate agent, or realtor, who represents the interest of a buyer of real estate as opposed to the seller. A buyer's agent can negotiate on behalf of the buyer and specializes in meeting the needs and preferences of the person looking to buy a home, above all else.

Working with a buyer's agent to purchase a home can provide certain advantages over working with the listing agent, who only represents the interests of the seller. A potential home buyer will likely be able to view more properties that would potentially interest him if he has a buyer's agent working on his side. The agent is someone who has a great degree of familiarity with the local real estate market, including knowing what the price should be of the type of home that the buyer is interested in. In addition to this, the things that a buyer tells his agent will remain confidential during the whole process, somewhat like the idea of attorney-client privilege in the field of law.

Although there are some arrangements in which a buyer's agent will charge an hourly fee or flat fee for their service, most buyer's agents take a commission at the time of the sale of the home, which is equal to the amount of commission paid to the seller's listing agent. When the agent's payment comes from the selling price at the time of closing, there is no additional direct cost for the buyer to use a buyer’s agent, making it a sensible option for many buyers.

There are several different types of buyer's agents. The first kind, an Exclusive Buyer Agent (EBA), represents only buyers and does not take listings from sellers. A Single Agency Buyer Agent (SA) is an agent who takes listings and also works as a buyer's agent, but will only represent one client in each transaction.

A Buyer Agent (BA) is an agent who takes listings from sellers as well as representing buyers, and who also practices “dual agency.” This means that he offers to represent both the buyer and seller in a given real estate transaction. This has the advantage for the agent of giving him a “double-ended commission” at the time of the sale, meaning that the agent receives two commissions -- one as a buyer’s agent and one as a listing agent -- making the transaction more profitable for the agent.

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