Then why don't you just SAY that?

Real Estate Agent with Jameson Sotheby's International Realty

In a fair number of recent online conversations, there has been some serious confusion over the use of Buyer's agent vs. Selling agent.

As most Realtors know, most transations include two agents.  The listing agent, and the selling agent. 

The listing agent is fairly straightforward... s/he represents the seller.... the person who owns the property that's for sale.

The selling agent is a bit more confusing... the selling agent is actually the buyer's agent... who represents the buyer in the transaction.  And the consumer knows us as buyer's agents.  But many agents like to use the technical terminology, and since they're not used consistently... it just creates confusion, even amongst fellow Realtors.

"Selling agent??  You mean the buyer's agent?"

"Yes, the buyer's agent."

"Then why don't you just SAY that?!"

Why, indeed?

Posted by

 ALAN MAY, Realtor®   
Specializing in Evanston Real Estate and North Shore Real Estate

Jameson Sotheby's International Realty, 2934 Central Street, Evanston, IL 60201
Office: 847.869.7300      Cell: 847.924.3313      Email:

Evanston Real Estate & North Shore Real Estate
Licensed in Illinois



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Kris Collis, Associate Broker
Smart Way America Realty - East Stroudsburg, PA
Professional Results you Expect 702-574-8102

Alan, A good reminder that our teminology can be sticky, tricky to consumers.  Let's stick to buyer's agent.

Sep 21, 2019 09:55 PM #6
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

In Wisconsin ...if you don't have a buer Agenty contract...the Selling agent is really still working for the add to the confusion...

Sep 22, 2019 02:46 AM #7
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Franklin, MA
Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team

Good morning Alan May I think most buyers continue to not understand agency.....they would all be wise to secure a buyer's agent prior to beating the pavement in search of that special home..... there continues to be listing agents who focus on the entire deal.... they participate in dual agency.... I think dual agency should be A THING OF THE PAST.... EVERYONE DESERVES PROPER REPRESENTATION AND IT NEEDS TO BE CALLED OUT AS IT IS: BUYER'S AGENT...

Sep 22, 2019 05:12 AM #8
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Alan. Well put my friend. Say it like it is! Enjoy your day!

Sep 22, 2019 05:24 AM #9
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

I always thought "selling" agent was confusing. Buyer's agent is much clearer!

Sep 22, 2019 06:54 AM #10
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Agree Alan.  It would make better sense to just call them a buyer's agent.  I'm guessing that's why we don't. Lol. 

Sep 22, 2019 07:12 AM #11
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

It's one of the things that threw me off when I first got started.  Selling agent??  Isn't the seller's agent selling the house?

Sep 22, 2019 07:16 AM #12
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Hi Alan... a question I hear posed often. But at the end of the day never quite understood why so many agents are confused by the use of selling agent terminology.

Sep 22, 2019 07:18 AM #13
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Alan. As usual, you get right to it and with a homorist twist.

Sep 22, 2019 07:55 AM #14
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

That used to confuse me also when I was brand new to the business.

Sep 22, 2019 08:09 AM #15
Candice A. Donofrio
Next Wave RE Investments LLC Bullhead City AZ Commercial RE Broker - Fort Mohave, AZ
928-201-4BHC (4242) call/text

Sencillo! Semplice! Facile!


Why you gotta complicate things?

Sep 22, 2019 09:06 AM #16
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

HI Alan May,

I am often confused when I hear terminology from other parts of the country and it gets even more convoluted when lawyers are involved!

Sep 22, 2019 09:37 AM #17
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good afternoon Alan May -  makes sense to me.  If is quacks like a duck call it a duck.

Sep 22, 2019 12:39 PM #18
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

And we wonder why people get confused ... it's as clear as mud, Alan May!


Sep 23, 2019 08:57 AM #19
Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC

It’s BUYERS AGENT! I don’t do dual agency! I can only represent one party! I refer out all buyers for my listings

Sep 23, 2019 12:05 PM #20
Anna Banana Kruchten Arizona's Top Banana!
HomeSmart Real Estate BR030809000 - Phoenix, AZ

KISS! Nuf said.

Sep 23, 2019 04:15 PM #21
Colleen Fischesser Northwest Property Shop
RE/MAX Advantage | Managing Broker - Chelan, WA
A Tradition of Trust in the Pacific NW since 1990!

Alrighty, and to add insult to injury, here in WA state "agents" were made "brokers" and "brokers" became "managing brokers" even though the majority of them don't manage anyone. And.....this was all done to avoid confusing the consumer ???

Sep 24, 2019 08:25 AM #22
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

Business lingo..can get Colleen mentioned, many pp get confused between agent and broker...different places different meaning

Sep 24, 2019 01:43 PM #23
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

Thank you.  I never did understand why someone would use that term.  At the very least it could have been buying agent since they weren't involved with any selling.

Sep 24, 2019 04:23 PM #24
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

I would have not known that buyers agent and selling agent were the same person. Makes no sense to me. LOL

Sep 25, 2019 05:33 AM #25
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