For their services, a buyer's agent is compensated by the buyer. What typically happens in practice, however, is that the buyer and buyer's agent will build into the offer a provision for the seller to provide the compensation to the buyer's agent. Remember that a typical seller has already agreed to pay a selling agent commission when they entered into a listing contract. That means that there is typically money available to compensate the buyer's agent for their efforts on behalf of the buyer. If the seller has made available less money than the buyer's agent is entitled to by contract with the buyer, then one of several things can happen:
A special condition can sometimes arise where a real estate agent is contractually obligated to both parties in a real estate transaction, as would be the case of a buyer's agent showing one of their own listings. In this case "dual agency" is said to exist. The real estate agent is an agent to both parties. When this condition arises, a realtor should disclose the dual agency condition and obtain consent from both buyer and seller that they accept this condition. In many states, failure to disclose dual agency is a violation of the law for which a real estate agent can lose their license, be fined, and potentially receive a jail sentence. In a dual agency condition, the real estate agent acts as a neutral third party, not representing the interests of either party, but simply facilitating the transaction. Many consumer advocates are not happy with such arrangements because nobody is looking after the best interests of the consumers, in this case the buyer and the seller.
Buyer's agents serve a very useful purpose helping to protect the interests of real estate buyers in real estate transactions. Individuals seeking to purchase a home who do not have a lot of experience with real estate should seriously consider hiring a buyer's agent to represent them, and help them through the process, negotiations, and real estate transaction.
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