Real Estate Agents: Who Works for Who and Who Pays?

Are you currently browsing the pages of Zillow? Clicking through pictures on Sketching out your dream home in the margins of your daily newspaper?

Which ever way you’re using to shop for a home, you’ve probably figured out that the homebuying process is … well… complicated.

For instance, let’s say you’ve found a home you really like on Zillow and you’d like to check it out.

What do you do next?

A. Fill in the “Contact Agent” section and select the “Listing Agent”

B. Fill in the “Contact Agent” section and select one/all visible agent

C. Call the real estate agent you have selected to be your buyer’s agent

For first time homebuyers, “A” and “B” are the most common responses, because it’s unclear what the difference is between “Listing Agent” and “Premier Agent,” or if you can use an agent who isn’t listed there, or what the difference is between real estate agents.

“C” is the answer we’d recommend.

Why not go with the first Real Estate Agent on the list?

Buying a home is a time-intensive task- it often can take several months.

Because you’ll be spending a lot of time with your real estate agent viewing properties and will rely on them for information and advice, its important that you choose an agent that you respect, trust, and get along with.

Here are some useful questions to ask when interviewing prospective agents. Keep in mind, you can choose a real estate agent before you find a home that you’d like to see- we actually recommend that you start with this step.

Ask for recommendations from friends and family for agents they’ve worked with, review agent profiles on Zillow, Trulia, and, and call the real estate agents up! If they’re unwilling to chat with you for a few minutes, they’re probably not someone you want to work with.


  • How many years have you been a licensed real estate agent?
  • How many years have you sold real estate full time?
  • How familiar are you with ______ (neighborhood/town/county)?
  • What methods of communication do you use?
  • Do you require your buyers to sign any contracts or agreements?

If you’re currently shopping online for a home, we suggest finding a realtor now who you’ll enjoy working with and who will represent you effectively as a buyer.

What’s the difference between “Listing Agent,” “Premier Agent,” and “Buyer’s Agent?”

Listing Agent

A “Listing Agent” is a real estate agent hired by a someone who wants to sell their home to, you guessed it, sell their home. They take pictures of the property, offer advice on the listing price, stick their sign in the front lawn, and market the home online and in newspapers. Since they work for the seller, they are looking out for the seller’s interests – and this is why, in Vermont, Listing Agents may show you a property but may not represent you as a buyer in any transactions.

As a buyer, you should never confide in a Listing Agent, especially about your finances – you do not have to and should not tell them how much you are pre-qualified or pre-approved for, or how much you’d be willing to pay for a property.

Premier Agent

A “Premier Agent” is a real estate agent who has paid to have their picture and contact information next to properties on real estate websites.

Buyer’s Agent

A “Buyer’s Agent” is a real estate agent who works exclusively for the buyer. For those of us who haven’t been through the homebuying process before, it’s often surprising to learn that working with a buyer’s agent is … free!

Real estate agents make money by splitting a commission paid by the seller. This means that for you, the buyer, the service is free – you get a trained eye for inspecting properties, information about different neighborhoods you may be considering, guidance when making an offer, negotiate with the seller to get the best price for you, and explain all the legal paperwork to you so that you understand what you are signing without paying anything.

Use RealtyWorks as your Buyer’s Agent and Support NWWVT without paying a cent!

As a buyer, you can be represented by a Buyer’s Agent for free- no strings attached! Because it costs you nothing, you can work with RealtyWorks Realtors and get top notch real estate service and access to all of NeighborWorks of Western Vermont’s experts AND you’ll support NeighborWorks financially. How?

Our Realtors work on salary, not commission.

When you purchase a home with a RealtyWorks Realtor as your Buyer’s Agent, the commission paid by the seller goes to NeighborWorks of Western Vermont- essentially by buying a home, you’re supporting others to buy their homes, repair their homes, and invest in our community!

Start browsing homes on today, and call up our Realtor, Gene Felder, to start seeing homes!

To learn more about the homebuying process, sign up for a Homebuyer Education Course today!