Good question! You have received good answers thus far . . . but let's make it simple. You the "Customer" are in the beginning stages of either finding a home or wanting to sell . . . Your first step is to interview with 2, 3, 4, or how many real estate professionals it takes until you feel not only comfortable with that person but having communication with them. If you cannot have good communication you ready do not have anything.
Now, if you wish to remain a "Customer" and not have representation by an Agent or Broker, that's your choice. But, if you want the Agent or Broker to become your Agent of Choice and "Represent" You, then you'll be required to sign an agreement with that Agent or Broker signifying such.
I have a pdf file which explains the different ways Realtors(R) in Alabama works with and/or represents people, it's usually called RECAD, but the title is: Real Estate Consumers Agency and Disclosure Act. This may sound somewhat complicated, but it's really the opposite, and you will have good understanding after reading the explanation. Go to http://www.RonSellsAlabama.Com look under Helpful Information (found on the right side of the page) click on "Real_Estate Glossary," and you'll find hi-lighted with Red-Stars, "In Alabama all Real Estate practitioners abide by and work under the "Real Estate Consumers Agency and Disclosure Act, commonly known as; "RECAD." Click on the link provided. Have more questions, please do not hesitate calling or emailing me and I will be happy to answer your questions.
Ron's direct number: 334.546-14110 or e-Address: Ron@RonSellsAlabama.Com
Agents can represent either owners or renters, and many agents will represent both. If you are looking for an agent to represent you as a renter, you can post a request here and someone will surely offer their services.
An "Agent" is someone who is licensed to practice real estate, and they usually work for a "Broker".
The other categories are probably pretty self-explanatory, but speak up if you need further clarification.
Someone who has the orange "Pro" logo next to them means they pay a fee to Trulia for extra features/listings, etc. and it gives the person better "visibility" to consumers like yourself who are here looking for advice/input/referrals to real estate professionals. http://www.trulia.com/truliapro/ has those details.
I am not quite sure what you mean on the representing "owners" vs. representing "customers". If you are asking if there are real estate agents that specialize in helping buyer's, then certainly there are, as there are also real estate agents who specialize with listing homes for a seller. Some agents can be great at both. But both buyers & sellers are a real estate agents "customer", or "client" as we like to call them.
As far as finding a real estate agent who works with buyers, you can search for "Buyer's Agents" in Montgomery, or you can just ask any agent if they work with buyers. If I was going to utilize the "Find a Pro" feature here I would view as many profiles of professionals you like, as most have written blog entries, have various listings, and a resume, that way you can get a sense of who they are before you give them a ring.