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The Difference Between and a Listing and Buying Agent

By Colleen Colkitt

You'd be surprised to know how many people confuse a listing agent for a buying agent. Calling a firm and asking for contact information for a listing from a different firm is like walking into a McDonald's and asking where Burger King is! Too many people don't know the proper procedure for working with a listing agent and what a buying agent actually does. Here is the rundown for each of these, so you can contact the correct person and take care of things faster and more efficiently!

What Is A Listing Agent?

With a listing agent, the seller has signed an agreement (usually an Exclusive Right to Sell contract) with the listing agent. This agreement states that the listing agent will represent the seller, and do everything they can to serve their best interest by marketing the property and securing the highest possible price for the property.

Although these agents represent the seller, they can also be useful in assisting buyers as well, but their main priority and loyalty is towards the seller. Any information the buyer discloses to the listing agent, they must also disclose this information to the seller. Their primary obligation is to obtain the highest price for their client, the seller, as outlined in their listing agreement.

Clearing Up The Confusion

What may confuse potential buyers is when they see a home listing pop up on one firm's web site, despite the fact that the home is listed by a different agency. This happens because most real estate firms share their listing data with each other through Multiple Listing Services (MLS), which encourages cooperation between agents. Agents and brokers can place their listings in the MLS system, and every firm that subscribes to that particular MLS can feature the listings on their site. This is a boost for everyone involved -- it multiplies the advertising range of the home by putting it front of more potential buyers around the web, and increases the chances of a qualified buyer being found within a reasonable time frame.

But the purpose of placing another firm's listings on your site isn't to serve as a call center for that agency. It's to encourage potential buyers to call and work with you as a buyer agent

What Does A Buyer Agent Do?

Like listing agents, buyer agents will often sign an agreement contract with their clients (but not always). The typical duties of a buyer agent are to find listings, locate available properties that meet the criteria the buyer gives, evaluate the properties, prepare offers and advise during counter offer negotiations, and generally offer their advice and expertise at each step of the home buying process.

A buyer agent's primary goals are to find the right home for their client, and then negotiate to get that home for the lowest possible price on the buyer's behalf. The buyer agent helps their client make the closing transaction run smoothly. These agents are also required to disclose any information they may have received from the seller or listing agent (i.e. other offers in place, a defect in the home, etc) to the buyer.

The major difference between the buying and listing agent is who they work for. The seller hires the listing agent to ensure their best interests are covered during price negotiations and the drawing of the Purchase and Sale contract. Potential buyers should similarly ensure that their best interests are represented at the negotiating table by partnering with a buyer agent. There's literally nothing to lose -- buyer agents are compensated by the listing agency after closing, meaning the buyer pays nothing out of pocket for their services!

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