Real estate has enough confusing jargon - do we really need different names for agents too?
Admittedly, terms like buyer’s agent, selling agent, and listing agent can be confusing, as they are sometimes used interchangeably. However, at their core, these terms are almost self explanatory. Breaking down these terms can be useful for knowing which agent will be able to suit your needs in real estate transactions.
Buyer’s Agents vs. Listing Agents
are what they sound like: they represent the buyers of a home. Their duties can start even in the early stages of the home search process
. They can give clients access to the multiple-listing service (MLS), which is the most reliable source of new listings on the market, to help them narrow down what they’re looking for. These agents also set up showings with sellers so the client can actually see the homes they’re interested in. And once the client has their heart set on a home and is ready to make an offer, the buyer’s agent helps them through the negotiation process all the way to closing.
represent the other side of the transaction: they help those who are selling their home. It is necessary for a listing agent to have skills in marketing, as they will likely have to assist clients in marketing their homes.
As with buyer’s agents, listing agents also assist their clients with the negotiation and closing processes. You can see why buyer’s and listing agents would have conflicting interests; both want the best deal possible for their respective clients.
However, there are cases where the buyer’s agent and the listing agent are the same person. But this is only legal in certain states. In these cases, the agent should be acting more as a neutral party in the transaction, as they get a decent commission no matter what!
Buyer’s Agents vs. Seller’s Agents
The distinction between buyer’s and seller’s agents is less intuitive. Seller’s agents are often confused with listing agents, as listing agents help the seller. However, this is not what seller’s agents are. Seller’s agents are technically buyer’s agents that have made a sale. When a buyer completes a sale, their agent goes from being called a buyer’s agent to a seller’s agent. Seller’s agents are buyer’s agents at the end of the transaction process and should not be thought of as what listing agents are.
Do you really need a real estate agent?
If you want to get the best deal and the most out of your transaction, yes. Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, if you’re not already a real estate agent, it is advisable you get an agent’s help. Real estate agents truly are experts in a complex and ever-changing industry, and going it alone--though possible-- will not get you as good a result as having this expert by your side. They will help you with negotiating, pricing, evaluating offers, making contingencies, and every step of the market research process.
But do you have to use a real estate agent? No. You can go solo. The official term for selling by yourself is For Sale By Owner, and we have a whole article about that here
. However, if you go FSBO, we advise that you have sufficient knowledge of the real estate industry and your local real estate market, as well as its pros and cons (which we break down in our article).
The Difference Between Buyer's and Seller's Agents
The Difference Between the Buyer's Agent and the Listing Agent
Should You Buy a Home Without a Real Estate Agent?
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