Why Use a Buyer's Agent?1/20/2014
Purchasing real estate has evolved quite a bit in the past few decades. In the past, buyers would call the listing agent to see a home, and the listing agent would write the contract and negotiate the offer. A lot of the time this was a win-win outcome for everyone; however, most of the time the buyer was at a disadvantage because the listing agent was working for the seller and NOT the buyer. Who was representing the buyer? No one. The listing agent was privy to information about the property, seller and usually what the buyer was willing/or able to pay, and the buyer had no protection.
The mid-1980's brought about the emergence of Buyer's Agency - someone who represented the buyer solely and could negotiate a fair price and terms that were favorable to the buyer. Today, most agents can wear both hats - they can list a seller's house and then help the seller find a new one - but it isn't really wise for the buyer to use the listing agent for representation when purchasing.
If the agent represents both sides, that agent has to disclose to one of the parties they are being represented as a "customer" which means there is limited protection and representation while the other party is being represented as a "client" with full protection and representation. It is certainly okay to contact the listing agent to view a home, but if you want to make an offer, ask that agent if there is someone in their office who can represent YOU. Most agents will do this - so please, ask! Purchasing a home is one of the most important decisions one can make - being wise about representation can help ensure the best deal for everyone!