If you are buying a home, work with a buyer’s agent who is not also representing the seller. An agent working simultaneously for the buyer and the seller has the best interests of both parties in mind, as opposed to an agent who is exclusively working for the buyer and only has the buyer’s best interests in mind. When it’s time to negotiate, your goal is to find someone who is in your corner exclusively.
Let’s say you tell the person you think to be your agent, “Let’s offer $450,000 but I’m willing to go as high as $465,000.” If the agent were acting as sub-agent of the seller, she would be obligated to present the offer like this: “Their offer is $450,000 but they are willing to go as high as $465,000.” That pretty well destroys your negotiating power. You have the right to be represented by someone who will be your agent without giving you cause to worry about it.
You should understand that you ought to have someone in your corner, someone who will help you understand the process, help you understand values, help you develop a negotiating strategy, and help you execute it just as if she were dealing with a member of the family.
A buyer’s agent does not cost you a penny!