Buyer’s agent and listing agent are two important real estate terms that you’ll often hear when buying or selling your home in today’s real estate market!
In this article, I’ll explain the differences between a buyer’s agent and a listing agent to help you understand what to expect from your REALTOR® when you’re in the market for a new home or looking to sell your current one.
First, it’s important to note that both a buyer’s agent and a listing agent have a responsibility to their clients as real estate professionals to act in their client’s best interests at all times. In the real estate industry, this responsibility is known as a fiduciary duty.
One other thing before we continue below – a listing agent can also be called a seller’s agent. A selling agent is referred to as a buyer’s agent before the offer is accepted and signed. However, once the deal is completed and both parties agree upon all terms, the buyer’s agent is designated as the selling agent.
This is because the buyer’s agent brought in a buyer to purchase the property, resulting in a home sale. The seller pays the total commission for both the listing agent and the buyer’s agent, so there is no fee for prospective buyers when working with a REALTOR®.
In BC, dual agency, where one REALTOR® acts as a dual agent to represent both the home buyer and home seller is not allowed.
A buyer’s agent works exclusively with a buyer and represents the buyer’s interests throughout the home buying process. Thus, a buyer’s agent works in the best interest of the homebuyer. An agency relationship is where one person (known as the principal) authorizes another person (the agent) to act on its behalf. For example, when the buyer agrees, the buyer’s agent will act as a designated agent for the buyer resulting in an agency relationship.
At the beginning of your home search process, your REALTOR® will go over all of the main forms with you. Examples of the forms include Disclosure of Representation in Trading Services, Contract of Purchase and Sale, and Disclosure of Remuneration. However, there can be many unfamiliar terms or language, so this is a great opportunity as a prospective buyer to ask your REALTOR® to clarify any terms.
Your buyer’s agent will have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS®). The Multiple Listing Service lists all active, pending, sold, expired, and cancelled listings in your realtor’s market area. In addition, your REALTOR® can gather information from MLS® property listings to determine the market value for homes that you’re interested in. The MLS® is an extremely valuable source of information for both real estate agents and their clients.
A buyer’s agent also has access to historical property sales, municipal records and can communicate directly with the listing agent to gather more information about a specific property that may be important to you!
Your buyer’s agent will be the main point of contact with the listing agent (seller’s agent) to communicate all important information and showing requests between each party. Throughout your home search, your REALTOR® will schedule property showings and attend the showings with you.
If the property is tenanted, your REALTOR® will also communicate with the listing agent to navigate tenant schedules. As you work with your buyer’s agent to view more properties, you will start to get a feel for what features you love, don’t like, and your favourite neighbourhoods!
Through various network connections, your REALTOR® may also have access to coming soon listings and off-market properties. The benefit to you is that you can see properties before they go on the market. This can be advantageous, especially in a competitive real estate market, since you may be able to see properties before other prospective buyers.
Your REALTOR® will work with you to draft and present an enforceable contract and negotiate on your behalf to protect your interests at all times. Your buyer’s agent will advocate to include the best terms for you and keep your bargaining position confidential.
When purchasing a property, there can be a lot to review before you remove your conditions. Every buyer will have their own set of concerns or conditions that they may want to include in their offer. For instance, you may require a home inspection or financing condition that must be satisfied before you can continue with your home purchase.
A buyer’s agent should be present at the home inspection to review the home inspection report with the inspector. The home inspector will go through the report’s findings and the significance for their buyers. In addition, if necessary and depending on the market, your real estate agent can negotiate home inspection repair requests if any issues are discovered during the home inspection.
It’s a good idea to take the time to interview with a few agents to find the right fit for you. A good buyer’s agent will make your home search process a lot more enjoyable and be there along the way to help you navigate the closing process and with any follow-up questions after you’re all moved in!
Now, let’s switch to the responsibilities of a listing agent!
A seller’s agent works in the best interest of the seller. A listing agent will easily guide you through the process of selling your home. Your listing agent has a legal responsibility to represent your best interests at all times. A listing agent will advertise your property across social media, on the MLS®, print advertising, and social networks.
A multiple listing agreement is a contract between you (the seller) and your listing agent’s brokerage. This listing agreement outlines your listing agent’s responsibilities for the time of the listing contract. The listing agreement will outline many requirements, but, in particular, the listing price, length of the listing contract, and any terms of the contract that will need to be agreed upon and written in the contract.
A listing agent will help you navigate the legal requirements of selling your home, complete and submit required paperwork such as purchase and sale agreements, records, related documents, and will be there to advise you along the way and answer any of your questions!
Your listing agent will communicate with you, buyer’s agents, and tenants (if applicable) to schedule showings and open houses at convenient times. In addition, your listing agent should follow up with buyer’s agents who have shown the property and provide their feedback to you promptly.
Your listing agent will also keep you updated with local market activities, recent comparable sales, new listings, industry news, and policies.
A comparative market analysis (CMA) is when a listing agent looks at comparable properties similar to your home to determine what would be a competitive list price for your property. A comparative market analysis will also outline the strengths and weaknesses of your property compared to active, pending, and recently sold properties in your neighbourhood to determine a competitive list price range.
Almost all home buyers start their home search online, so it’s important to have beautiful photos and videos to encourage buyers to put down their computers and view your home in person. In addition, your listing agent should hire a professional photographer and floor plan company so that your property attracts potential buyers who are already looking online and are ready to purchase!
A detailed listing description is also necessary to capture buyers’ interests and showcase the best features of your home and neighbourhood. REALTORS® know the best ways to advertise to attract home buyers and can advertise through social media, the multiple listing service, their brokerage, and through their network of clients to help you obtain the highest price for your home.
Your listing agent is legally obligated to present all offers to you. When an offer is received on your home, your listing agent will communicate the terms and conditions of the offer to you. Your REALTOR® will negotiate on your behalf and protect your interests at all times and advise you on the best offer for your home.
Your listing REALTOR® will guide you through all the steps of the real estate transaction to ensure that your home sells quickly and for the highest possible price!
*Disclaimer: The topics of discussion, content and resources on this website are general information that may not be the right solution or advice for you specifically. Not intended to solicit buyers or sellers currently under contract with a brokerage.
*Stock images from Social Squares