Unlike sellers who have a contractual relationship with the real estate agent who lists their house, buyers are not tied to the agent who helps them find a home. If you don’t think the agent you are using is doing a good job, talks too much, smokes too much, or just plain rubs you the wrong way, by all means find another agent, and another one after that if you don’t like the second one.
Unless you are working with a buyer’s agent, with whom you do have a formal agreement; you do not owe the agent anything. If an agent introduces you to a home that you eventually purchase, the agent will receive a commission which is paid by the seller out of the proceeds from the sale. In most real estate transactions, the agent works for the seller, and has a contractual obligation to protect the interests of the seller and to obtain the highest price possible for the seller. For this reason, buyers should be very circumspect in what they confide to an agent about their finances, motives for buying, etc.
The exception is a ‘buyer’s agent’ who works for the buyer and advises him/her on negotiating strategies, market conditions, how much to offer, etc. If you decide to work with a buyer’s agent, you will sign a contract with the agent and pay him or her a fee or commission for his/her services. Buyer’s agents are fairly rare in Massachusetts. If you decide to hire a buyer’s agent, consider whether that person does or does not take listings in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest.