Are Buyers Agents in California really sellers agents?

Asked by justin, Los Angeles, CA Mon Nov 12, 2012

I have read that in California, there are people who call themselves Buyers Agents and people who call themselves Exclusive Buyer's agents. Is it true that the former really have a fiduciary duty to the seller, not the buyer? (How does that work?) And if so, why are there so few Exclusive Buyer's Agents?

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Cindy Davis’ answer
Cindy Davis, Agent, San Diego, CA
Mon Nov 12, 2012
It gets very confusing.....

Any buyer's agent has a fiduciary duty to his or her buyer. No ifs, ands, or buts! Where it gets confusing is that on the California contracts, the buyer's agent is referred to as the 'selling agent.' These two terms are used interchangeably.

The listing agent is the one who has a fiduciary duty to the seller(s). The listing agent may also be called the 'seller's agent.'

Hope that helps...let me know if you have further questions.
1 vote
Todd Schneid…, Agent, Northridge, CA
Sat Feb 7, 2015
In California Buyers agents, and sellers agents are the same thing as many here have said. The Listing agent is the one representing the seller. As the buying/selling agent you represent the buyer, and have a fiduciary duty to your buyer. Why are there so few exclusive buyers agents? This is mainly due to agents not wanting to limit there options. We as agents can choose to represent buyers, sellers, or be exclusive to one or the other. Agents can also represent both parties in some cases. This has to be disclosed to both parties, and agreed to by both as well. Hope this helps.
0 votes
James Deskins, Agent, Worthington, OH
Mon Nov 12, 2012
@Lance, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree, then.
0 votes
Lance King, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Mon Nov 12, 2012
In california buyer's agents are also called selling agents - that may be your confusion.

@James - couldn't agree less. Seeing things from only one side limits your experience and your knowledge no matter what the venue is.
0 votes
James Deskins, Agent, Worthington, OH
Mon Nov 12, 2012
>>I don't know any agents or brokers who would refuse to list properties,

Lance, you need to get out more. I am one of them, and there are about 500 across the country, I think. Some are even out there on the left coast!

And, I disagree with your reasoning. I am better at working for only buyers because that's all I do. I've never taken a listing and I don't need to in order to understand how to represent a buyer. I'm quite versed in all aspects of real estate as a broker but I do not need to list homes to properly understand how to work with somebody who might want to buy a home.
0 votes
Alan May, Agent, Evanston, IL
Mon Nov 12, 2012
Buyer's agents are "technically" called "Seller's agents"... but that does not mean they represent they seller. I know the terminology is confusing. Buyer's agents represent the buyer fully and to the best of their ability.

In my opinion, there are fewer "Exclusive" buyer's agents, because they don't want to limit their business to only buyers.

Agents can represent buyers in one transaction, and sellers in another... and that brings them excellent experience from both sides, to bring to you.
0 votes
Alyssa Fry, Agent, Studio City, CA
Mon Nov 12, 2012
From my point of view, your question has a two part answer. Your opening question - "Are Buyers agents in California really sellers agents?" Contractually speaking - when a buyer puts in an offer, the agent representing the buyer is actually referred to as the "Sellers agent" in the offer, while the agent representing the seller is referred to as the "Listing agent". Not sure why it is done that way..but it is.

As to the second part of the question, there are agents that will represent a Buyer or a Seller - sometimes both although representing both is not very common. By being willing to represent either a buyer or a seller, the agent is not restricting who they will work with. Some agents prefer to ONLY work with one or the other - which is where you get the "Exclusive Buyer's Agent". There is also an "Exclusive Sellers agent". Either agent has taken specific certification courses for that distinction. You are not going to see many "Exclusive" agents because most agents prefer to leave their options open although you may find that any one agent has more experience representing a Buyer or a Seller without having the title of "Exclusive".

If you are looking for an agent to represent you - as a Buyer - the title of "Exclusive Buyers Agent" - while to be commended - should not rule out other agents who may have just as much actual experience representing Buyers without the title.

Alyssa Fry
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
DRE# 01887351
0 votes
Lance King, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Mon Nov 12, 2012
Agents who represent themselves as buyers' agents theoretically only rep buyers. I don't know any agents or brokers who would refuse to list properties, but your best bet is to hire someone who aside from being experienced, knowledgeable, and reputable, handles a balance of buyers and sellers.

The reason for this is simple. The market is always changing, so an agent/broker who is representing both sides of transactions is going to be better informed about both markets, plus have a better understanding on how it works from both sides.
0 votes
James Deskins, Agent, Worthington, OH
Mon Nov 12, 2012
Actually, start by going to http://www.NAEBA.org to find an EXCLUSIVE buyer's agent. They never represent a seller, ever.
0 votes
Laura Coffey, Agent, Santa Clarita, CA
Mon Nov 12, 2012
There are a few agents in California that work strictly with buyers. Most agents work with buyers and sellers but that does not mean they would not be working in your best interest.
Having a fiduciary duty to a seller in a transaction to be fair and not lie should not be construde with an agent not being a shewed negotiator and looking out for your best interest.
The only time I would be worried if I were you is if you bought a house straight from the listing agent.
If you are worried start by using a ABR agent. Go to REBAC.net
Good luck.
Web Reference:  http://www.LauraCoffey.com
0 votes
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