I know on the surface that this might sound like a silly question to ask, but there are a lot of Consumers (and even Realtors) that don't know what a Buyer Agent is or how they work.
A Buyer Agent is a Licensee who has signed a contract to represent a Buyer, in a real estate transaction. With out a contract an Agent cannot represent a consumer in a transaction as " The Buyer's Agent", this means that the Agent should not advise the consumer about properties they are viewing in any way except when its about revealing material facts. They are to be honest with a Buyer (this includes informing them that they will not be giving any assistance to them) and do ministerial work (handle the paperwork, escort them on showings). The things an Agent should not be doing are:
1) Advising the Buyer about properties, their worth, and how they compare to other listed homes.
2) Assisting the Buyer with writing up the Purchase and Sales Agreement, the Agent is to be only typing up what the Buyer wants put into the contract. They should not be discussing Price, Terms, Deposit Amount, Home Inspection Terms, Insurance or any other additional provisions which might be added.
3) Advocating on the Buyers behalf during the negotiating process with the Seller, the Agents only job is to act as a middle man in the transaction passing information back and forth between the parties. They should not be advising the Buyer on whether a counter offer from the Seller is good or not etc..
4) Accompanying the Buyer on the Home Inspection, this implies to all parties that the Agent is working for the Buyer which they are not, therefore they should not be attending the Home Inspection. Their job is to pass along any concerns or wishes by the Buyer to the Seller or Sellers Representative without comment.
Besides these things, there are many more things that differentiate a Non-Agent from a Buyer Agent. One of the other areas is that a Buyer Agent should always put their Clients needs before a Customers needs.
If you are working with an Agent who is giving you Client level services without a contract, you may think that you are lucky or getting something for nothing, but in reality you are not. The reason you are not lucky is that most likely you are working with someone who either doesn't know the difference between a Non-Agent and a Buyers Agent (which should make you wonder about how competent they are) or you are working with a really good Agent who is competent, but does not care that they are violating State Law or the Code of Ethics. How do these Agents handle their Clients, what services do they give them that they are not giving the Customer? If they don't know what Agency is or do not care, are they really a good Agent to be working with?
When working with an Agent, its fine to not want to sign a contract. If you don't sign one then you should understand what you are getting into. If the Agent is willing to give you "Client Level Services" without a Contract, you need to ask yourself," why are they doing this ". I don't believe that a Consumer benefits from working with an Agent who either doesn't understand Agency or who doesn't care about it.