I am interested in buying a home. Should I allow the listing real estate agent represent me as well.
What you are talking about is called Agency. There are three types of Agency relationships: Buyer Agency, Seller Agency and Dual Agency. Legally, all Realtors represent the seller until a Buyer Agency has been signed between the buyer and the agent. At this point, the agent can start to work and advise the client as to what might be in their best interest.
The Buyers Agency also discusses how the agent is to be compensated for the work they are doing for their buyer. The Sellers Agency agreement is covered within the listing agreement. Obviously, through the listing agreement the seller and their agent will have discussed many things such as what the seller may want or need to get from the property or what the seller is willing to take for the property. The compensation to the Listing Firm and how it will be divided is also covered in this agreement. Many times, the agreement will state that the seller will not agree to pay another agent who brings a buyer unless the represent the buyer and that they wil or will not agree to dual agency.
Dual Agency can come in two forms. The first is when the company listing the property allows it's agents to show theit buyers the property. The second is when the listing agent himself brings a contract to the seller and represents the buyer as well. Many agents will claim that they see no conflict of interest when doing this and will often tell their sellers that they are only increasing their chances of selling the property when allowing for Dual Agency. At the same time, many companies encourage their agents to show and make offers on in-house listings first and offer those agents a higher commission split when these transactions close. Dual Agency at the Company level as far as having agents within a company bringing their clients to see a listing represented by the same company should not cause any problems or raise any eyebrows. And yes, this does increase exposure of the listing. But, when a listing agent offers to represent both sides of the transaction, I bid you caution as no party should go unrepresented. That is how real estate transactions can remain fair and impartial as well as giving all parties to the transaction an equal chance of getting the highest and best value for their dollar.