Is Your Real Estate Agent Working for You?


You might be surprised to learn that a real estate agent can play one of several roles. You might be even more surprised to learn that the real estate agent that you think is working for your best interests is really working for someone else's.

If You Are Selling a Home

If you are selling a property with the help of a real estate agent, that agent, called the listing agent, is working for you. The listing agent almost always gets a percentage of the sale price as their fee, and therefore wants to help you get the highest price you can for your property. The higher the sale price, the higher the fee the listing agent will collect.

Your listing agent has plenty to do to help you sell your property. He or she helps determine the price of the home, suggests how to market the home, assesses the home for improvements that will facilitate the sale, schedules advertising and open houses, and ideally does everything to sell your home quickly and at the highest market price.

The listing agent may occasionally show the home to prospective buyers, especially with open houses, but generally this facet of home sales is left to the showing agent.

If You Are Buying a Home

If you are buying a home with the help of a real estate agent, that agent is usually the showing agent, and that agent is working for the seller. That's right, not you, the seller. Both the listing agent of a particular home and the showing agent are working for the seller.

The showing agent works with buyers and sellers to show homes, contacts listing agents, oversees transactions, and sometimes helps to obtain financing. In most cases, the seller pays a sales commission, again usually a percentage of the sale price, to the listing agent and the showing agent.

The showing agent is naturally hoping for the largest possible commission. They are not going to try their hardest to negotiate the best price for you. The showing agent will not disclose negative information about the property. Such information might help you, the home buyer, negotiate a better price, or it might even dissuade you from buying.

The Buying Agent

As a prospective homebuyer, how do get someone in your corner, fighting for your interests? The answer is to hire a buyer's agent. This agent works for you, not the seller. A buying agent is required to disclose all relevant information to you about any property you are considering. And, even though the buyer's agent is paid a fee based on the sale price, they are there to negotiate the best possible purchase price and terms for you.

If you are not sure what role an agent is playing, and for whom they working, just ask.

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