Posted On: November 27, 2023

Differences Between Buyer’s and Seller’s Agent

Real estate transactions can sometimes be complicated and involve several key players. The buyer's agent and seller's agent are two people who participate in a home sale. While their names sound similar, they have their own specific roles and responsibilities.

So, what's the difference between a buyer's agent and a seller's agent? What about listing agents and selling agents? What do all these real estate agents do?

It can get confusing with different types of real estate professionals involved in an ordinary sales transaction. This article helps make things a little clearer by guiding you through the differences between agents' roles and their duties during a transaction.

Fiduciary Duties

When real estate buyers and sellers enter into agency agreements with state-licensed agents for representation during a transaction, the agent becomes their fiduciary. This means they have a legal and ethical obligation to act in the best interests of their clients.

There are six primary fiduciary duties, commonly referred to as the “OLD CAR” acronym. They are as follows:

  • Obedience: The agent must follow the client's lawful instructions, even if the agent disagrees with them, as long as they are within the bounds of the law.
  • Loyalty: The agent must prioritize the client's interests above all else, avoiding any conflicts of interest that could compromise the client's objectives.
  • Disclosure: The agent must provide complete and accurate information about the property, market conditions, and any other relevant details that could impact the client's decision-making.
  • Confidentiality: Information shared by the client must be kept confidential, except when required by law or with the client's consent.
  • Accounting: The agent is responsible for handling the client's finances and property-related matters with the utmost care and accuracy.
  • Reasonable Care: The agent must exercise a high level of skill, care, and diligence in representing the client's interests.

A fiduciary relationship is based on trust, confidence, and the highest standard of care. In the context of real estate, being a fiduciary means putting the client's needs before their own and providing guidance that prioritizes the client's well-being.

Buyer's and Seller's


Buyer’s Agent vs. Seller’s Agent

To put it simply, a buyer’s agent represents the buyer, and the seller’s agent represents the seller.

This can get slightly more complicated when you learn that these roles have different names. For one, the buyer’s agent is often referred to as the selling agent. This might seem confusing because it sounds so similar to the seller’s agent. Just know that this person is typically known as a buyer’s agent and is only referred to as a selling agent after the sale is made.

Meanwhile, the seller’s agent is also known as the listing agent. This makes more sense because the agent representing the seller is the one who is listing the home for sale.

The Buyer’s Agent

Now let’s get into the reason you’re here: to learn the difference between a buyer's agent and a seller's agent.

To do this, let’s look at a typical home buying process from the buyer’s agent’s point of view. The buyer's agent starts by gathering essential information from the buyers to understand their preferences and needs in a home. They’ll provide valuable resources such as checklists, guides, and contracts to educate buyers about the home purchasing process. Additionally, these agents will help in getting buyers pre-approved for loans and offer insights into market trends and the pros and cons of different properties.

A big part of the buyer's agent's role is creating a list of suitable properties based on the buyers' criteria, including factors like location, size, and price. Then, they’ll accompany buyers to view open houses and showings, providing them with useful information on aspects like cost, amenities, repairs, and potential resale value. As buyers narrow down their choices, the agent will help them make competitive offers and navigate any negotiations. They’ll also offer advice on aspects such as inspections, repair requests, counteroffers, earnest money, and down payments.

Upon acceptance of an offer, the buyer's agent will guide their clients through the steps outlined in the sales contract. This involves ensuring financing is secured and coordinating home inspections. As the closing date approaches, the agent will continue to support their clients, accompanying them to the closing meeting. Here, buyers have the opportunity to ask questions, sign documents, and ultimately receive the keys to their new home.

The Seller’s Agent

Let’s switch sides now. The role of a seller's agent involves a series of tasks geared toward selling a property. Starting with a thorough evaluation, the agent gathers information about the house and conducts comparisons with similar properties in the area to establish an appropriate asking price. Utilizing the local multiple listing service (MLS), the agent lists the property and strategically inputs all relevant details.

To prepare the house for sale, the seller's agent will offer valuable guidance on cost-effective renovations, repairs, and staging to enhance its appeal. One important responsibility of the seller's agent is marketing the property. This includes making eye-catching promotional materials like flyers, brochures, and virtual tours, along with using various platforms such as newspapers, social media sites, and yard signs to attract potential buyers. Additionally, the agent coordinates open houses, providing interested parties with the opportunity to explore the property and get answers to any questions they might have.

The seller's agent acts as the main point of communication between potential buyers and sellers. While not legally required, it is ethical for the seller’s agent to present all offers to their clients and offer informed advice on factors like contingencies, counteroffers, and the acceptance of offers. Once an offer is accepted, the agent guides the sellers through fulfilling the conditions stipulated in the sales contract. This includes managing disclosures and facilitating repairs as required.

A pivotal moment in the selling process is the closing, and the seller's agent remains a steadfast source of support. Accompanying the sellers to the closing meeting, the agent will ensure all necessary paperwork is completed, questions are addressed, and any applicable fees are paid.

The Importance of a Buyer’s and Seller’s Agent

Understanding the distinctions between buyer's and seller's agents is helpful when navigating the world of real estate. Both roles play an important part in guiding individuals through the complex process of buying and selling properties, each with its unique set of responsibilities tailored to their client’s needs.

Whether you're looking to become a buyer's agent, a seller's agent, or simply trying to become more knowledgeable in the real estate industry, Agent Campus by 360training can help you with the insights and expertise necessary to excel in this dynamic field. Start your real estate journey by enrolling in our pre-licensing course today!

Already a real estate agent? Keep your license current and active by registering for our continuing education courses.

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