I presume you mean buyer's agent vs. listing agent or dual agency. The buyer's agent is representing you in the transaction. The listing agent's primary duty is to the seller. A buyer's agent cannot disclose certain information to the seller's side e.g. how high an offer you are willing to make. The seller's/listing agent will not disclose how low of a price they will go to. If you walk into an open house or answer an ad specifically for a particular property, you may be dealing directly with the listing agent and they do represent the seller's interest. If you are shown a home by an agent you have been working with (or you have a buyer agency agreement with) and it turns out it is their listing this is definitely dual agency. If you want to make an offer, the agent must let you and the seller know the relationship he/she has with both of you and this is known as disclosed dual agency. Sometimes, a listing agent may not want to handle your offer and he/she will have someone else in their office (e.g. a manager) handle the offering--especially if there is more than one offer on the table. Some listing agents are just that and won't handle dual agency. In any case for the above, when ever you are dealing with the listing agent to make an offer, the agent must act fairly with both parties. Often, a buyer thinks they will get a better deal or preferential treatment by dealing with the listing agent of a property they are interested in. This is not really the case. Often, a listing agent usually feels more comfortable representing the seller only and is happy to work with buyer agent.. If you hire a buyer agent, you usually get a very motivated agent working on your behalf to get you the best possible price and terms. Throughout the entire purchase process, including inspections, the buyer agent is usually willing to go to bat for you with any situations that may arise. One word of caution, make sure the buyer agent is being offered the same rate of compensation that the listing agent would have made, since offers being made by the listing agent or agency (sometimes referred to as "in-house" offers) will be an unfair advantage to them since the seller won't have to pay out as much commission on an offer of the same price as yours. This is known as 'dual commission arrangement.'
Good luck with your decision. I hope I have been of some help.
RE/MAX VILLAGE SQUARE
Upper Montclair, NJ
click here for a market snapshot of towns you are interested in: