Listing Agent vs. Buyer Agent: Who Works for You?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016 at 2:47pm.

A "Listing Agent" and "Buyer Agent"

When you you see a house you like on and contact the REALTOR® on that listing or yard sign, you need to know you are contacting the representative for the seller – commonly referred to as the “listing agent.”

Sellers and their REALTOR® (the “listing agent”) have a written contractual agreement outlining their relationship. It’s called the Exclusive Listing Agreement. It outlines the REALTOR®’s role as the listing agent, how they will market the property, the commission and the terms of the listing.

A REALTOR® working as the “Listing Agent” represents the Seller

In short, the REALTOR® acting as the “listing agent” has a legal obligation to work on the seller’s behalf. Their job is to get the highest possible price and the best terms available for the seller. They do not work for the buyer.

As a “listing agent”, The REALTOR® is legally obligated to share any information they learn about the buyer with the seller. If a potential buyer walks into an open house and strikes up a conversation with the personable REALTOR® on site, any information divulged there can be used against the buyer during eventual negotiations.

So think twice before telling the friendly “listing agent” you are relocating within the next month for a new job making a lot of money. That can hurt you later when you go to bid on the property.

For sellers, your “Listing Agent” is you biggest advocate. While any REALTOR® can represent the seller, some REALTORS® that specialize as listing agents will have a “SRS” designation, which stands for Seller Representative Specialist. To be a SRS, a broker must be a REALTOR® in good standing, have work experience on transactions as a “listing agent” and complete SRS course that teaches elevated professional standards.

A REALTOR® working as the “Buyer Agent” represents the Buyer

For buyers, you want to search for your own REALTOR® to represents your best interests in the transaction. Commonly referred to as the “buyer agent,” your REALTOR® will help you narrow your home search, help you find financing, negotiate the best and look for common pitfalls in buying a home. Since the sales commission is determined in the seller’s agreement with their “listing agent,” you will not save money by trying to buy a house on your own.

Like a “listing agent,” any REALTOR® can represent you in buying a home. Some REALTORS® that specialize as a “buyer agent” may have an ABR® designation (for Accredited Buyer’s Representative®). To be an ABR®, a REALTOR® must be in good standing with NAR, have worked on transactions solely representing the buyer and have completed the ABR® course and passed the exam.