A real estate agent who works on your behalf, as a buyer rather than the seller is called a buyer's agent. All listing agents are representing sellers and their best interests, but other agents, who don’t have an agreement with buyers, even if they show them homes, work as sub-agents for the seller and do their best to get the highest price.
During such a complex and emotionally draining process, it can be very helpful to have someone representing you and helping you every step of the way. Your agent will help you in many ways, including:
A buyer's agent is paid by commission, just like the listing agent. Your agent will expect a formal agreement, like the listing agreement the seller makes, and this contract will spell out your rights and duties, and those of the agent.
While a referral from a family member or friend is the best way to find a good agent,
many buyers do not trust referral sources. There are several ways to find an agent,
including online searches to find exclusive buyer brokerages that represent buyers and open houses.
Once you have found several potential agents, you should meet with each in their office. A good agent will listen and ask you plenty of questions, taking notes during the interview. The agent will also explain the relationship they will have with you; if the agent does not offer you a buyer's agreement, he is representing the seller and not you.
Buyer's agents are required by law to put your needs above their own; even if the agent will be paid more selling only in-house listings versus other homes on the market, they must inform you about other suitable listings and take you to see any that you think are good prospects.
These precautions can also alleviate any stress you may be feeling about getting stuck with an agent who will not be a good fit for you.