Real Estate Agent Duties
and Loyalties

First time home buyers should understand what real estate agent duties are and how those agent duties apply to them as buyers. The primary duty of a real estate agent is to assist buyers and sellers with the purchase or sale of their home.

We want to encourage you to seek a Buyers Agent. A buyer’s agent is a real estate agent that works specifically with buyers. A real estate agent's duties are to primarily service your home buying needs during the real estate transaction. They work with everyone involved with the purchase of your home (i.e. seller, lender, title company, inspectors, etc). However, their number one priority is with you "the buyer."

What should a home buyer expect from a Buyer's Agent?

  • Home buyers should be able to expect loyalty and confidentiality from a buyer's agent.

  • The agent should promote your best interests and provide you with all available facts that could influence your decision about making an offer for a home.

  • A buyer's agent will offer research materials that help you make a realistic offer.

  • A buyer's agent should give you the "what if" scenarios about the clauses in a contract. The agent may recommend additional contract contingencies to protect your interests.

  • A buyer's agent should track and handle many of the day-to-day needs required to get to closing (such as inspections, helping you find a lender, tracking the progress of the loan, working with the closing attorney or agent).


An Exclusive Buyer Agency agreement normally ties you to one agent. That means in some cases you may owe the agent a commission even if you switch to another agent or agency.

A Non-Exclusive Buyer Agency lets you have multiple buyer agents without altering standard contracts, but some agents won't work in that capacity. Although, this type of agency is non-binding commit to working with one agent versus multiple agents. You will get more attention, follow-up and care if you build a solid relationship with one agent of your choice.

  • The contract should cover a specific time period agreeable to both parties.

  • The agreement should be in writing. It should outline the expectations of both the buyer and the real estate agent.

  • The agreement can be far-reaching or cover listings only in a specific geographical area.

  • The contract should address agent compensation. Buyer's agents are usually paid a portion of the seller's commission at closing, but not always. Ask how agents are paid in your area. What if you buy a For Sale by Owner property? Will you pay the agent's commission? If not, get it in writing now.

A buyer agency agreement is a binding contract. Be sure you understand every aspect of it before you sign.


1. Verify that the agent can work as a buyer's agent.

2. Ask the agent to explain the services you can expect if you make s/he your buyer's agent.

3. Ask for a blank copy of the buyer agency contract and take a day or two to study it. If some aspects of the contract concern you, ask the agent to delete or alter them.

4. Find out how dual agency is handled (Agent works for both the seller and agent = dual).

5. Don't let anyone pressure you into signing an agreement that doesn't feel right.

Bottom Line:
Don't sign a buyer agency agreement until you know that agent is the right one for you and can meet your home buying needs. Some states allow agents to initially work under an oral buyer agency agreement, but you'll usually need to put it in writing before making an offer.

An alternative is to allow the agent to work as a seller's agent until you feel comfortable signing an agreement. Do not disclose confidential information to a seller's agent.

Understanding real estate agent duties and loyalties will help you distinguish who plays what roles and will ultimately create a smoother transaction.

You can sit down together and discuss what you'd like your real estate agent duties to be during your transaction (i.e. helping you find a lender, emailing you listings weekly, etc).

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