A buyer brokerage or buyer agency is the practice of real estate brokers and their agents representing a buyer in a real estate transaction rather than, by default, representing the seller either directly or as a sub-agent. In the United Kingdom and Australia, the most common term is buying agent.
In most U.S. states and Canadian provinces, until the 1990s, buyers who worked with an agent of a real estate broker in finding a house were customers of the brokerage, since, by most common law of most states at the time, the broker represented only sellers. It is only since the early 1990s that states passed statute law to create buyers’ agency.
Buyer agency can exist exclusively (where a brokerage firm chooses to only represent buyers and never sellers, as an exclusive buyer agent) or, in a full-service company, by offering buyer agency to buyers who become clients. Buyers would have to agree to some form of dual agency in the event that they wished to buy a home which that company has listed for sale and for which it represents the seller.
Today, if the buyer is working with a broker other than the brokerage listing the property, he or she may choose to enter into a buyer-brokerage agreement to be represented. In some cases where dual agency is permitted by law, even the listing broker may represent the buyer. If the buyer does not enter into this agreement, he/she remains a customer of the broker who is then the sub-agent of seller’s broker.