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If you want to purchase a house, you should work with a buyer’s agent, a real estate professional who will look out for your best interests. A buyer’s agent is required by law to maintain your confidentiality, disclose material facts and remain loyal to you. He or she can advocate on your behalf, negotiate, help with property inspections, advise you on necessary repairs, prepare documents, and discuss issues related to a mortgage and closing.

Why You Should Have a Buyer’s Agent
A listing agent represents the seller, while a buyer’s agent is required to make the buyer’s needs a top priority. A real estate agent who works for a company that represents both buyers and sellers may prioritize listings held by that company, even if there are other properties that have the features you want.

An exclusive buyer’s agent may work for a firm that doesn’t accept sellers’ listings at all. Such an agent will show you properties that suit your needs, regardless of which firm listed them and how much money the agent might earn in commission if you bought a particular house.

A buyer’s agent splits the commission with the seller’s agent. If your agent brings you to see a house that you decide to buy, the two agents will split the commission. If you don’t have your own agent, the seller’s agent will work on behalf of the seller to get the best price and will earn the full commission.

Types of Agency Agreements
If another agent shows you a house and you don’t have a buyer-agency agreement with that agent, he or she is working on behalf of the seller. A designated-agent agreement means the same real estate company has one agent representing a buyer and another representing a seller. Each agent owes fiduciary duties to his or her client.

If you want a buyer’s agent, don’t sign a dual-agency contract. That means the real estate agent and/or his or her company can represent both the buyer and seller, which could lead to a conflict of interest. The contract should specifically state that you are entering into a buyer’s agency agreement.

How to Choose a Buyer’s Agent
You can find a buyer’s agent by conducting online research or through word of mouth. At the meeting, tell the agent if you’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage and which features you’re looking for in your new home. Look for a buyer’s agent who asks questions, is a good listener and is familiar with the local real estate market. The contract should explain the services to be provided, compensation and length of the agreement and should say that the buyer’s agent has a fiduciary duty to work in your best interest.

Have Someone in Your Corner
Many homebuyers see a house they like and call the agent whose name is on the sign, which is a mistake. That agent is working on behalf of the seller. Find your own agent who will put your interests first.