Goodspeed: What is an exclusive buyer’s agent?


QUESTION: What is the difference between a buyer’s agent and an exclusive buyer’s agent? We are confused by the different terminologies of real estate agents.

ANSWER: An exclusive buyer’s agent only represents buyers. A traditional real estate agent represents both sellers and buyers, and occasionally in the same transaction. When that happens, they will often pick one side or the other and find another agent in their office to represent the other party in the transaction.

But since the agent already knows the personal financial details and other information about both parties, it can muddy the fiduciary responsibility of the agent to his/her client.

An exclusive buyer’s agent will never represent sellers or take listings. Because they never represent sellers, they will never represent both sides in the same transaction. Their fiduciary responsibility is always just to the buyer. Buyers never need to worry that their agent is sharing details of their finances and other information with the seller.

Exclusive buyer agents tend to work on their own rather than for a traditional brokerage firm. They also usually work in larger metropolitan areas. That means they may not know the ins and outs of particular neighborhoods and housing markets. But they can be very helpful to a buyer in locating, bidding and negotiating for a property. They are paid directly by the buyer.

The fee is always negotiable and can be handled in a couple of different ways. In some cases, the buyer will pay the fee directly to the agent. In other cases, the fee will come from the commission the seller pays when the home is sold.

If the fee comes from the commission paid by the seller, then the buyer would be able to finance the fee through the mortgage because the commission is typically built into the sales price the buyer pays for the property.

If, on the other hand, the buyer pays the buyer agent’s fee directly, over and above the purchase price of the house, then the buyer will most likely have to come up with this amount out of his own pocket. A lender is not likely to add the buyer agent’s fee to the mortgage amount.

Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of “In and out of Darkness.” Email her at: