When Buying a Home, Which Level of Service Do You Want?
This content was originally published on January 16, 2017, and updated on October 11, 2021.
When it’s time to buy a home, you have choices. You get to decide on the type of property you want to purchase—and the selection of a real estate professional to assist with your transaction.
There are several ways to define your relationship with a real estate agent. It’s important to understand that the services you can expect to receive will differ, depending on your status—customer or client.
Each state sets its own rules regarding how a customer or client relationship is established, and agents have some latitude in defining which services are (or are not) included.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to consider three levels of services:
1. Buyer as a Customer
Your agent will provide basic administrative acts such as identifying properties for sale, completing real estate contracts (at your direction), and locating lenders, inspectors, and closing attorneys.
Your agent is not required to keep any of your information confidential and will not provide professional advice.
Works for the seller.
2. Buyer as a Client
In addition to administrative acts, your agent also accepts fiduciary responsibilities, meaning they must be completely loyal to you, looking out for your best interests and paying full attention to your needs.
Your agent will keep all your information confidential, disclose any facts that might help your position, provide professional advice, and negotiate on your behalf.
Works for you.
3. Buyer as a Client of an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®)
Your agent has received specialized training in serving buyer-clients and meeting all their fiduciary responsibilities. Agents must also demonstrate prior experience with buyers before they can earn the ABR® designation.
Your agent’s ABR® designation means they can deliver the “gold standard” in buyer-client services.
Works for you.
Ask your ABR® designee to discuss these differences in greater detail and answer any questions you have before deciding how to proceed in your home search. You’ll be glad you did!