Posted by Peggy Farber on 10/1/2014

When you walk into an open house and see the home you want to buy, before you start working with the seller's agent, you need to understand who that agent is working for. Many buyers do not understand that the seller's agent has a fiduciary duty or a duty of loyalty to the homeowner. While agency laws differ from state to state they have the same general principles: Typically an agent represents either the buyer or the seller. However, in some cases an agent will assume the role of a dual agent (representing both the seller and the buyer). Make sure to check the agency laws specific to your state, but in general agents fall into these categories: Seller's Agent: A seller's agent works for the real estate company that lists and markets the property for the seller, exclusively representing the interest of the seller. Buyer's Agent: Some states may have written agreements regarding buyer agency. A buyer agent assists the buyer in evaluating properties, preparing offers, and negotiating in the best interest of the buyer. Dual Agency: Dual agency occurs when the buyer's agent and the seller's agent are the same person or company (depending on state law). Dual agents do not act exclusively in the interests of either the seller or buyer. Dual agents cannot offer undivided loyalty to either party. A conflict of interest can arise because the interests of the seller and buyer may be different or adverse. A buyer and seller must agree to dual agency. Always ask your real estate agent about the agency laws in your state. Many states require buyers and sellers to sign a disclosure form at the first meeting between the agent and potential client.