Types of Real Estate Agents—Definitions

There are different kinds of relationships you can have with a real estate professional. The two most common forms are seller’s agents and buyer’s agents.

Note: the other forms of agency and agent representation are Broker’s Agent, Dual Agent and Dual Agent with Designated Sales Agents. These are all defined in the  www.dos.ny.gov/forms/licensing/1736-a.pdf>New York State Agency disclosure form.


Many agents are seller’s agents who represent the interest of the seller. The name on the sign in front of a house is usually the seller’s agent. If you call the listing agency or the listing agent to show you the house, unless the agent showing you the house discloses otherwise, you should assume they represent the interests of the seller. Note: In New York State they are required to disclose the nature of their agency before showing you the property they represent.

The seller’s agent is legally obligated to represent the seller’s interests, negotiate the highest price and most favorable terms for their seller, maintain the seller’s confidentiality and disclose to the seller all information about the buyer they can ascertain.


buyer’s agent represents the buyer in a real estate search and transaction. The buyer’s agent gets to know the buyer in order to assist them with selecting and viewing prospective properties. The buyer’s agent then assists the buyer in conducting due diligence by referring them to the proper professionals and informs the buyer of any concerns or material facts about prospective properties they discover.

Once the right home is found, the buyer’s agent helps negotiate on the buyer’s behalf the best price and terms. The buyer’s agent can also help troubleshoot on behalf of the buyer any problems that come up during the transaction.

Buyer’s agents should provide their buyers with and have them sign a New York State agency disclosure form at first substantive contact and before they show the buyer any homes. They should also review and discuss their representation agreements and compensation with prospective buyer clients and endeavor to make any agreements with a buyer for representation in writing.

Caution: unless you have signed a buyer agency agreement or it is otherwise disclosed by an agent, the agent showing you a property is most likely not working for the buyer—and you should assume that agent is a seller’s agent.

The buyer’s agent does work for you! The representation fee they charge is most often covered by the seller (but not always) by the overall listing fee and the percentage of that fee that is offered out to cooperating brokerages and their seller agents for bringing in a buyer. The fee offered out to compensate buyers’ agents varies with each listing!

For more information on the fees charged by a buyer’s agent, click here.


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