A buyer’s agent is a real estate agent who represents you when you’re buying a home. A buyer’s agent can find properties that fit your needs, advise you on offers, and represent you at the negotiating table.
Buyer’s agents need an active real estate license from their state in order to legally represent buyers.
Buyer’s agents are usually paid from the proceeds of a sale, so there’s no upfront cost to work with one. In fact, some discount real estate companies like our friends at Clever even offer a rebate when you use a buyer’s agent.
Should I use a buyer’s agent?
You don’t need a buyer’s agent to buy a home, but in most cases it’s the right decision because they’ll protect your best interests throughout the transaction. A buyer’s agent earns money from the proceeds of the home sale, so there’s no out-of-pocket cost to you.
Unlike the average home buyer, buyer’s agents help people buy houses all of the time. Their experience and expertise can help position you to get a good deal on your house, and they’ll keep track of all of the details leading up to closing.
|Reasons to work with a buyer's agent|
|🔨 They can advise you on the condition of houses that you’re interested in.|
|✍️ They’ll help you prepare an offer and decide what contingencies to include.|
|🦺 They have errors and omissions insurance, so you’ll be off the hook if something goes wrong during the transaction.|
|🤝 They’ll negotiate with the seller on your behalf.|
|☎️ They’ll communicate with everyone involved in the purchase to ensure nothing falls through the cracks before closing|
|💰 They’re paid from the proceeds of the sale, so there’s no out-of-pocket cost for you to work with one.|
What do buyer’s agents do?
Buyer’s agents work with their clients throughout the home buying process — from the first time they go see a home right up to closing day.
Along the way, a buyer’s agent can help you:
- Find houses that fit your budget and priorities
- Submit offers
- Connect with other real estate professionals (contactors, appraisers, inspectors)
- Close the deal
Find houses that fit your budget and priorities
Buyer’s agents can help you find houses in your price range, even if they aren’t listed on Zillow or another real estate website you might use to search listings on your own.
Buyer’s agents work with other realtors and clients every day, so they might be aware of off-market houses for sale in the neighborhood you want to move to.
Once you’ve found a house that you’re interested in, your buyer’s agent can help you put together an offer and give advice about what contingencies to include.
Your buyer’s agent will probably recommend standard contingencies like inspection and financing to make sure you’re able to back out of the deal if things don’t go as planned.
Connect with other real estate professionals
The home buying process involves a lot of people, including appraisers, inspectors, attorneys, and lenders. Buyer’s agents typically have connections with real estate professionals who they can recommend to you.
These connections can save you time, but keep in mind that your agent’s recommendations might not be the most affordable options — they’re more likely to send you to someone who they’re friends with instead of prioritizing cost, so shop around to compare prices if you have time.
Close the deal
A significant amount of a buyer’s agent’s work takes place after your offer is accepted. Before closing day, the agent needs to ensure that the title company/real estate attorney has all of the documentation that they need from your lender.
They also need to help you meet each of the contingencies in your offer, and work with the seller/the seller’s agent to make sure that anything else that the seller agreed to in the offer is taken care of before closing.
Ready to find a buyer’s agent? Our friends at Clever can help you find a top local agent in minutes and get up to 0.5% cash back when you buy your next home!
What’s the difference between a buyer’s agent and a listing agent?
A buyer’s agent represents the buyer; a listing agent represents the seller. Most agents work as buyer’s agents and listing agents, but some work exclusively with buyers or sellers.
Ultimately, both agents want the sale to close without any issues so they can earn commission.
The biggest difference for customers is how buyer’s agents and listing agents get paid. Sellers typically pay commission for both sides — meaning they pay that buyer’s agent and the listing agent from the proceeds of the sale.
In reality, buyers do pay to work with a buyer’s agent because the 2.5-3% that the buyer’s agent earns is factored into the sale price — but the buyer doesn’t have to give them anything out of their own pocket.
|Buyer's agent||Listing agent|
|Represents the home buyer||Represents the home seller|
|Paid from the proceeds of the sale||Paid from the proceeds of the sale|
|Helps the buyer find a house that meets their needs||Helps the seller market their home|
|Submits offers on behalf of the buyer||Reviews offers with the seller and responds with acceptance, rejection, or counter offers|
Most real estate agents work as listing agents and buyer’s agents, though it’s very rare for an agent to perform both duties in the same transaction. When this happens, it’s called dual agency.
A dual agency situation involves some obvious conflicts of interest. The agent’s commission is paid by the seller, and the higher the final sale price, the higher their commission. That conflict alone makes it doubtful they’ll effectively look after the buyer’s interests.
🤓 Expert tip
In rare circumstances, dual agency can be an advantage. For instance, buyers can have a hard time getting their offers accepted in competitive real estate markets, but a buyer who’s willing to be represented by the listing agent could save the seller money — making their offer more attractive.
Many states have outlawed dual agency, and even in the states where it’s allowed, buyers often must sign a statement saying they understand the risks of entering into dual agency.
Buyer’s agent agreements
Most buyer’s agents ask customers to sign an exclusive buyer’s agent agreement. Once you sign the agreement, the agent has the legal right to be paid commission when you buy a house.
As a buyer, you don’t have to sign this agreement right away — you can talk to the agent first and even tour houses with them before you commit. Once you’re comfortable with the agent, it’s reasonable to sign the agreement since they’ll be spending time helping you find the right home.
Talk to multiple agents before you sign anything. That way, you’ll be able to compare them and pick the one that does the best job addressing your concerns as a buyer.
If you work with an agent matching service like our friends at Clever, you’ll actually get matched with multiple buyer’s agents and then have the opportunity to pick the best one for your situation.
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FAQs about buyer’s agents
Who do buyer's agents work for?
Buyer's agents work for home buyers. Their job is to represent buyers at every point in the transaction — from the first showing to closing day.
How much do buyer's agents charge?
Buyer's agents don't charge buyers anything because their commission is typically paid by home sellers. In fact, low commission real estate companies sometimes offer a rebate when you work with a buyer's agent, so you can get paid to work with one!