Sometimes we don’t focus on distinguishing between a buyer’s agent and a seller’s agent, but understanding the differences is important when you’re choosing someone to work with. The terminology can also get a bit confusing.
A buyer’s agent is also called a selling agent because they help buyers find properties. A seller’s agent is referred to a listing agent.
For purposes of comparing the two, we’ll call them a buyer and seller’s agent, because this references who they work for. A buyer’s agent represents buyers, and a seller’s agent represents sellers.
If you’re weighing whether or not you need an agent, when it comes to selling a home you can do it as an owner, but unless you’re a great marketer and negotiator, you might not do as well as you could with a seller’s agent. As a buyer, it can be even more important to have an agent representing you. Some seller’s agents won’t accept offers from buyers directly.
Beyond working out the terminology, the following are some differences between the two.
When you’re selling a home and you hire an agent, you usually have an exclusive representation listing. That’s an agreement between your agent and you as the seller. Then, once you sign this agreement, only the listing agent is entitled to receive a commission when your home sells. More specifically, the brokerage the seller’s agent works for receives a commission and of that, the agent gets a percentage.
A buyer’s agent is compensated when they work with the seller’s brokerage and there’s a deal for their clients to buy a home.
Representing Different Interests
The primary difference between a buyer and a seller’s agent is that they’re representing different interests. The buyer’s agent wants to make sure their client is getting the lowest possible price and most favorable deal when they decide to purchase a home. The seller’s agent wants to make sure their client gets the most money for their home.
In some cases, the seller’s agent can also represent the buyer, but this is illegal in some states.
Can An Agent Be Both?
There’s no reason an agent can’t sometimes work for sellers and others for buyers. In fact, many agents do this. On the other hand, some agents find they just like dealing with one side of the transaction better, so they may specialize.
A seller’s agent’s responsibilities can include:
• A seller’s agent will see a property and do an initial walkthrough. During this time they might provide tips on how the seller can make the home more appealing to potential buyers.
• The seller’s agent might provide referrals for professionals who can make needed updates to a home, and they can help a seller stage the property.
• Seller’s agents work on marketing, which can include having professional photos taken.
• Seller’s agents work with the homeowner to price their home accordingly. There has to be a balance between getting the highest possible price and selling the property in a reasonable amount of time.
• Other things seller’s agents do include hosting tours and open houses, negotiating issues including inspection issues with the buyer’s agent, and helping with the closing process.
A buyer’s agent’s responsibilities include:
• Helping buyers with the preapproval process if they’re getting a mortgage loan.
• Finding properties they think will meet the criteria of their clients.
• Taking buyers on appointments to view potential properties.
• Helping buyers understand the value of a home as they work toward making an offer.
• Coordination of communication between the mortgage lender, seller, buyer, and title officer.
• Helping with the closing process.
Overall, while their roles are different, a buyer and a seller’s agent have the same overall objectives. They want to represent their clients to the best of their ability and negotiate successful deals to closing.