What’s the Difference Between a Buyer’s Agent and a Listing Agent?

In theory there is really no difference between a buyer’s agent and a listing agent. We are all trained to handle both sides of a transaction representing the seller or the buyer and in some cases both.

What's the difference between a buyer's and a listing agent?
There are some agents who specialize in working with buyers only and market themselves as exclusive buyer’s agent. Alternatively there are agents who only list homes. Generally this is a matter of preference, not expertise. There are agents who represent both sides of the deal creating what is called dual agency. (Read about the importance of using exclusive representation when buying a home).

When a new agent starts out in real estate, especially in Los Angeles, they often sit an open house for the listing agent. This provides them with a learning opportunity and gives them a chance to meet potential buyers, which allows them to start building a clientele. The listing agent will still handle the contract side for the seller and the new agent may learn how to represent the buyer.

The agents for each side will be dealing with the same contract during negotiations, so both will be equally familiar with the terms involved. The listing agent will be responsible for keeping the seller on track to meet their commitments and contingencies and the same applies to the buyer’s agent. The seller is responsible for providing disclosures to the buyer and complying with city ordnances, and the buyer is responsible for meeting their contingency deadlines such as deposit, inspection and loan approval. Each side is aware of the other’s responsibilities and each agent keeps moving their client forward.

Agents who work with both sellers and buyers are at an advantage during contract negotiations. When we list a home we meet a lot of buyers and their agents as they tour the home, and we start to develop a sense of who the serious ones are, and who is going to produce a successful and hassle-free transaction. We know what we are looking for: a well-qualified buyer whose offer is serious and terms reasonable. When we represent the buyer we will understand the best way to present our client to the seller and hopefully make them the successful bidder.

A good agent can switch hats and represent both sides of a real estate transaction with experience in both roles. That makes us a powerful ally.


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