Understanding the role of an exclusive buyer agent
representing both buyers and sellers in the same transaction. When that happens, they will often pick one side or another and find another agent in the office to represent the other side of the transaction.
But since the agent already knows the personal financial details of both parties, it’s hard to be a fiduciary (that is, to represent the interests of one side in the transaction exclusively), so the National Association of Realtors came up with the idea of “nonagency” or “transactional
brokerage.” In other words, you represent neither side, rather than pick the buyer or the seller.
The problem is that even if your agent picks you and another agent in her office takes the other side, you can still have agency issues. Agents do talk among themselves inside the office, and you can have private financial details emerge in a way that could hurt one side or another.
Exclusive buyer agency means you never need to wonder if your agent is sharing details with the seller that should remain private. And while that sounds fantastic, there are some negatives.
First, an exclusive buyer agent typically has to work a large metropolitan area rather than concentrating on a few small neighborhoods or towns. There is less chance the agent will know the ins and outs of a particular type of housing stock.
Also, in a hot market, the exclusive buyer agent may get locked out of pocket listings. These are listings with a “coming soon” sign, but which may be available to the other agents who work for the same company.
Traditional agents, like the Realtor you met, call themselves “buyer agents,” but they typically are not exclusive buyer agents. They represent buyers and sellers in different transactions and sign agency disclosure agreements to show to whom they owe their fiduciary duty in a particular deal. But if they act as a buyer agent and show their own listing to the buyer, and the buyer likes it, then the fun begins, as they must hand off either the listing or the buyer to a different agent.
What you really want is an agent who understands your wants and needs, and can help you look at all sorts of homes in your neighborhoods of choice. As long as you have a smart agent who listens to you, and responds accordingly, you’ll have a good experience whether it is a buyer or exclusive buyer agent.