Buyer’s Agents and Listing Agents: Understanding the Difference

Realtor house for sale







When you’re cruising through your ideal neighborhood and spot your dream house for sale, it probably seems like common sense to dial the number listed on the sign in the yard. But before you grab your phone, remember: that agent represents the seller, not you. As a buyer, it may be wiser for you to invest in a buyer’s agent: someone who works for your best interests, to ensure that you get the best possible home for the lowest possible price.

Here, we’ve outlined some differences between buyer’s agents and their counterparts, listing agents, to help you determine which type of realtor is right for you.

What is a Buyer’s Agent?

Buyer’s agents haven’t been around forever. They’re something relatively recent to the real estate industry; a new breed of agent that appeared partly as a result of the mid-2000s housing crisis. Unlike a listing agent, a buyer’s agent is exclusively invested in the best interests of the buyer. Although both buyer’s agents and listing agents are responsible for viewing properties, evaluating neighborhoods, and offering educated advice on property inspection and mortgage leasing, only a buyer’s agent can legally work to bring you the lowest sale price on a home.

Another advantage of a buyer’s agent is that they are able to legally share information about a seller’s position. This means that they can disclose information that may benefit you as a buyer, such as the reason the owner is selling, whether or not they have already located a new house, and how long they have lived in the neighborhood. Listing agents, on the other hand, are forbidden from sharing information that could compromise your final sale price.

So, what is a Listing Agent?

A listing agent, also called a seller’s agent, is a homeowner’s biggest advocate. When a listing agent starts working with a seller, he or she signs a written contractual agreement called an Exclusive Listing Agreement. Essentially, it states that the agent has a legal obligation to work on the seller’s behalf to get the best available terms for him or her. Some duties of a listing agent include:

  • Creating a marketing plan for the home
  • Commissioning professional photos of the home
  • Assisting in staging the house
  • Performing a comparative market analysis to find the fairest selling price
  • Recommending contractors to prepare the house for market
  • Coordinating and hosting showings

In general, a listing agent’s job is to make the home-selling process as easy for the seller as possible.

Listing agents are also legally obligated to share any information they learn about a buyer with the seller. If you strike up a conversation with a listing agent during a showing, any information you disclose could be used against your favor during negotiations. Are you relocating to the area because of the big salary increase you’ve received at your great new job? That’s valuable information to a listing agent; information they’re required to share.

Which should I choose?

Obviously, neither buyer’s agents nor listing agents are evil. Both are determined to help make the home buying experience as simple and rewarding as possible. Both have a passion for the real estate business; and both are very knowledgeable in the complex area of home buying. It’s just a matter of determining whose interests they are legally bound to prioritize. If you’re selling your home, a listing agent will help make your home as appealing to potential buyers as possible. And if you’re buying, resist the impulse to simply call whoever’s name appears on the For Sale sign, and invest in someone who will be primarily in your corner.

Here at Ed Price Realtors, we represent both buyers and sellers. Whether you’re interested in placing your house on the market, or finding the perfect home, Ed Price’s professional representatives are here to guide you every step of the way. If you’re considering buying or selling a home in the Triad area, give us a call today to get started.


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