Re: Are you bound by one real estate agent?
Real estate agent: sure, you can shop around, just watch out for a purchase exclusivity clause in any pre-purchase contracts, and look out for "brokers".
In almost all states, if you go through a "broker," that broker is due a quantum meruit (earned amount) value for the amount of work they did in finding a place for you, if they alerted you to the listing. You are allowed to purchase through any agent/broker, but if there is a fee to be had, the first-in-time rule applies, and the first broker to show you the place gets the fee (Of course, the selling broker is going to want it too, so...OUCH!).
This is because with MLS (multiple listing service) all agents/brokers have access to nearly all of the listings. There are exceptions, like when sellers hire an exclusive broker or agent, but almost all the stuff is on the open market.
Feel free to browse online, or go to open houses until your contact is licensed, if you want to throw him some business, just to steer clear of any problems. The real estate market is slowing down a bit, so competition is getting heated again. The specific rules are available on your home-state's web page.
BAILIFF: Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
PETER GRIFFIN: I do...You bastard...