Buyer’s Agent Information Sheet — What is a buyer’s agent? A buyer’s agent is someone who Represents the buyer’s interest. When a buyer is looking at a property that is listed in the Multiple Listing Service the buyer’s agent fee is covered by the seller.
In Alaska real estate agents who have Listing Contracts with sellers usually work on behalf of a seller and are paid by the seller. Buyer’s agents are agents who work on behalf of a buyer, and in Alaska that fee is normally paid by the seller, unless the buyer is purchasing a For Sale by Owner and the seller doesn’t agree to pay the buyer’s agent fee. In that case the fee can be paid by the buyer.
Buyer’s agents are different from Seller’s agents in the following ways:
They represent the buyer, not the seller.
They do not maintain property listings.
They may offer a number of services, such as:
– Sourcing properties for a buyer, on the basis of criteria set out by the buyer. In some cases they may also source property for a person seeking to rent rather than buy.
– Undertaking some inspection and checking of properties, such as obtaining a LIM or related information for the buyer.
– Negotiating with the seller on behalf of a buyer.
– Bidding at auction on behalf of a buyer.
Does a buyer’s agent need to be licensed? Yes. Any person carrying out real estate agency work, regardless of whether they act for a buyer or seller, must be licensed. Buyer’s agents are bound by all of the requirements of the Alaska Real Estate Commission. This means that they must carry out work for a client under an agency agreement, disclose information as required under the Act, and comply with the Real Estate Agents Authority’s Code of Professional Conduct and Client Care (Code of Conduct).
Having a buyer’s agent is a matter of personal choice, and the majority of buyers find that they can easily source property without a buyer’s agent. If you do decide to use a buyer’s agent, you should ensure that the person is licensed (you can check this on the register of licensees at https://www.commerce.alaska.gov/cbp/Main/CBPLSearch.aspx?mode=Prof), that you have an agency agreement that clearly spells out what services will be provided and at what cost, and ensure that your lawyer looks at the agency agreement before you sign it.
If you are authorizing a buyer’s agent to negotiate or bid at auction on your behalf, you also need to ensure that you are very clear about the limits of the agent’s authority, and when they need to seek your approval for a particular action or decision. What does it cost? There is no standard rate or scale of charges for buyer’s agents. It is important that you ask in advance about costs, and what services will be provided as a part of this cost. If the buyer’s agent charges a set fee, you should check whether any separate charges are made for expenses.
When do I pay a buyer’s agent? The terms under which a buyer’s agent is paid are generally negotiated between the agent and client. You should ensure that payment is made on the basis of achievement of results. Can an agent act for both a buyer and seller of the same property? No. This is a conflict of interest. An agent cannot work in the interests of two different parties (the buyer and the seller) in a negotiation concerning a property.
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