For most buyers and sellers the prospect of dealing with a real estate agent brings forth unknown fears. While some agents are genuine and reputable and consider their clients best interest as their top priority, there is no dearth of unscrupulous individuals either who are just trying to make a quick buck at someone else’s expense. As a buyer or sellers of a property, it is your responsibility to choose a estate agent prudently. So, here is a look at what you should know about real estate agents before you approach one.What does a real estate agent do?Depending on which side he is working for (the buyers or the sellers), the realtor acts as an intermediary between the buyer and the seller and helps to complete the sale of a property. For his services, he is offered a commission from his client (seller, buyer or both). When working on behalf of the seller, the agent is responsible for putting the details of a property in the multiple listing services of the area and undertaking other efforts such as home staging to market the property.In case of a residential property, a real estate agent may start off by putting up the details of the property on his personal or company website depending on whether he is a part of a realtor firm or works on his own. The next step would be to market the property through postcards and advertisements in real estate magazines offline as well as online.Besides marketing the property, the agent who lists your home is also responsible for following up with other agents who might have clients that may have expressed interest in the property. An agent is also supposed to help you negotiate the best deal possible. He/She is with you every step of the way till the home is sold; advising you on all matters including procuring the services of a lawyer.The agent does not charge the client/home seller for his marketing efforts; however, you will have to incur any legal cost involved in the selling processWhen working from the seller’s side, a realtor is responsible for rummaging through the property listings of an area that his client is interested in. He coordinates with the real estate agent handling the property on behalf of the seller and arranges to show the premises to his clients. A real estate agent from the buyer’s side also helps to negotiate the best deal for his client and is with the buyer through out the purchasing process. He is also responsible for approaching a professional to get a property evaluation done. Some real estate agents may also offer other services such as advice and help for procuring home loans.Real estate agents not only earn commission from the sale and purchase of homes but also when a property is leased. Usually the commission is paid to the real estate agent at the final settlement of the deal.Who should you choose to be your estate agent?Real estate agent can don three mantles that of an intermediary on behalf of the seller, the buyer or a dual agent. When buying a house, it would be best to hire the services of an agent who can work on your side, the same holds true when selling a home as well; you would be better of approaching a real estate agent who works for sellers.Although real estate agents who work from the sellers or the buyer’s side do not have different credentials, some agents choose to play on a single turf while double agents may work for both the seller and the buyer simultaneously earning commissions from both.The Sellers Real Estate Agent: An agent working on behalf of the seller will have his loyalties towards his client an he/she will try his hardest to convince the seller to give his client the lowest deal. So, as a buyer if you were to ask the seller’s agent if his client would accept a higher deal, he will be obligated to not divulge this information to you.The Buyers Real Estate Agent: Similarly agents who work on behalf of the seller owe their responsibility to their clients and will try to get their clients the highest deal possible. So, they will not be willing to offer information on how low their client will go in terms of the price.A dual agent: A dual agent is obligated to keep the honest picture in front of both parties; since he is entitled to a commission from both parties, he owes his loyalties to both the buyer and the seller.Most real estate agents have a list of buyers as well as sellers so it is not unusual for an agent to work on behalf of both parties or at least get another agent from his real estate firm to negotiate on behalf of the seller or the buyer.The problem with real estate agentsWhile real estate agents are in the business of marketing properties, it is not uncommon for them to play up their credentials; after all, it is a dog eat dog world and there is certainly no dearth of realtors in the market. While this is acceptable, some individuals resort to lying blatantly about their accomplishments and often their customers end up paying for their tall claims.So, make sure that you check all the claims that are being made by a potential estate agent. Do not hesitate to ask for references. If he has not mentioned his experience in the brochure, make it a point to ask him about it. Also, inquire about other properties that he may have sold which were similar to the one that you want to sell/buy; this would include properties in the sane area, of the same size and price range.Finding a good and reliable agent can save you a lot of trouble while hanging out with the wrong guy can quickly turn into a nightmare so take your time when picking an agent to buy/sell your home.