Yes, it sounds confusing. That's because the term "agent" is often used in a casual manner, referring to any real estate practitioner.
But agent also refers to someone with whom you've established a formal agency relationship-someone who represents your best interests in a real estate transaction and owes you fiduciary responsibilities, and requires:
reasonable care and diligence
For many years, real estate was practiced in such a way that agency relationships were only extended to sellers. This all began to change in the 1980's, when buyer agency started to gain momentum in residential transactions. That's why it is very important to talk to the agent or broker early in your working relationship about his/her agency status. You may find yourself working with someone who is actually negotiating for the seller, not you the buyer. So, the best way to be certain your interests are being considered and protected is to sign a buyer agency agreement with a trained buyer's representative, which clearly establishes client-level services and spells out what services you can depend upon.
If you have any other questions regarding agency relationships, I will be glad to assist you.