There is a difference!

How Do Real Estate Agents Differ?

In most states a real estate agent must disclose which party he or she works for–by default usually the home seller, and disclosure typically occurs during the first substantial contact with a home buyer.

Here’s a brief look at some of the details you might hear during disclosure:

Seller’s Agent

  • An agent working for the firm that holds a seller’s listing. An agent working for a firm belonging to an affiliated or local Board of Realtors is called a seller’s sub agent, and is in the same category.
  • The agent’s loyalty is with the seller.
  • Buyers should not give confidential information to a seller’s agent.
  • Assume any agent is a seller’s agent unless you’ve signed a contract to change that status.

Buyer’s Agent

  • An agent who has signed a contract to represent a buyer in a home search and sales transaction.
  • The agent’s loyalties are to the buyer.
  • Buyer’s agents should not disclose confidential information about the buyer to the seller or seller’s agent.
  • Some buyer’s agents work exclusively with buyers, taking no listings. Many do both.

Dual Agent

  • An agent who works for the firm that holds a seller’s listing, and who has signed a contract to represent a buyer who wishes to purchase that listing.
  • The agent has a loyalty to both the buyer and seller.
  • Dual agency must usually be agreed to in writing by both the buyer and the seller.


In some states you will hear the term facilitator used to describe an agent who brings the parties together, but is not an advocate for either side.

One of my clients knows how to safely remove a brain tumor from the base of her patient’s neck, but she doesn’t have a clue about real estate agent protocol. Nor does she understand why some listing agents have yelled at her.

In her mind, she hasn’t done anything wrong. She is only trying to find out information about a house for sale.

It’s not that difficult once you know a few simple rules. Here are protocols you can use while shopping for a home that will keep you out of hot water: