In some real estate transactions, the agents work for the seller. In others, the seller and buyer may each have agents that work for them. And sometimes the same agent works for both the buyer and seller. CONFUSED?
It is important for you to know whether an agent is working for you as your agent or simply working with you while acting as an agent for the other party.
Don’t just assume because you are walking into a real estate office or calling an agent on the phone that they are automatically working for you or in your best interest. Most buyers think this is how it works and it simply is not true. There are things you can do as a buyer to ensure you are represented in your next transaction with someone that has your best interest at heart.
If you are selling real estate, you may want to “list” your property for sale with a real estate firm (ie.. Keller Williams). If so, the seller signs a listing agreement authorizing the Firm and its agents (ie.. Christy Walker & Associates) to represent them in their dealings with buyers as the seller’s agent. This is important for buyers to know because you must understand that when you walk into the Firm’s office inquiring about one of its listings held by one of its agents, not only does that agent represent the seller, all of the agents in the entire firm represent the seller. Another VERY, VERY important thing you have to understand is; all agents in North Carolina default to what is called a seller’s subagent, meaning that unless you have signed NC Buyer’s Agency Agreement with a firm/agent you want to represent you, you are not being represented in your best interest – the seller is. Let me SUM IT UP until you make this agreement with your buyer’s agent of choice, you should avoid telling the agent you are speaking with anything you would not want a seller to know.
When buying real estate you have several choices as to how you want a real estate firm and its agents to work for you. You may want them to represent you (as a buyer’s agent). You may be willing for them to represent both you and the seller at the same time (as a dual agent). You can allow them to represent you as a dual agent while you are looking for properties and have the Firm’s Broker in Charge designate an agent to represent you at the time of the contract (as a designated dual agent). If you just don’t want representation you can agree to let an agent only represent the seller (as a seller’s agent or subagent).
In the majority of transactions, the buyer’s agent seeks compensation for his/her services from the seller of the property. In the majority of the transactions, the seller offers this compensation on the agent listing service. Meaning in the majority of transactions you can have an agent represent you for FREE. One of the first steps you should take before you start looking for properties and talking to firms and agents that don’t represent you is to interview several agents to represent you as your buyer’s agent (NOTE: if they don’t immediately disclose this agency information to you, they are not the best agent for you). Make sure someone is looking out for your best interests.