Home Buying in Norwood>Question Details

M Salerno, Home Buyer in Norwood, NJ

Am I locked into working with the selling agent if they show me a home?

Asked by M Salerno, Norwood, NJ Wed Nov 5, 2008

I plan to see a home in NJ. I contacted the selling agent and will meet with her, with out a buyers agent. Once she shows me the home, am I locked into working with her as my buying agent or can I still use the agent that I choose? I don't plan to sign anything with her, but if she shows me the home am I locked into using her?

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BEST ANSWER
Hi M,

You are indeed risking dual agency by having the listing agent show you the home. This is not in your best interest at all. You should use your own buyer's agent to show you the home. The listing agent's goal is to get the highest possible price for the home with the best possible terms for the seller. The listing agent will conceal any weaknesses in the seller's personal circumstances that might lead you to make a lower offer.

This is exactly what you don't want. You want an agent who will aggressively seek out defects in the property and/or the seller that would lead you to a lower offering price.

If you don't have a good buyer's agent, contact me through my website or profile. I am very aggressive in looking for problems with the home, location, seller, or all three. You should not settle for less, as it could cost you money and or aggravation if defects are not uncovered now, before you decide on a fair offering price.

-Marc

Marc Paolella
Relocation Director
Member, Worldwide ERC
Licensed Realtor NJ
Licensed Appraiser NJ & NY
Century 21 Joe Tekula Realtors
Phone (direct): (973) 584-4235
e-mail: marc2000@verizon.net
Web Reference: http://www.marcpaolella.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 5, 2008
Simply put, the most important issue is to find one agent you trust and feel comfortable with. You shouldn't feel locked into an agent until you know that it is a good fit. Interviewing agents when looking for a home, just as sellers interview agents when listing a home is equally as important..
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 3, 2012
Hi "M" !
OK, let me try to make this answer as simple as I can!
I am tempted to address some of the other comments on this blog by other agents, but I will try to stay on topic, and respond to YOUR question.

First of all, you are not locked into using the listing agent - for that home, or for viewing any other homes. You can, however, work with that agent as a "disclosed dual agent" for that particular home, and continue working with him or her as a "buyer's" agent for other properties down the road. That designation will change depending on whether you are viewing company properites or homes listed with other companies. Selecting an agent is kind of like a blind date ( !! ) - if you know that agent is qualified and experienced, and you feel comfortable with him or her, then by all means work with them, develop a relationship, and the outcome will be a positive one for you. If you meet the agent you made an appointment with, AND feel that comfort level, by all means allow him or her to be your agent. In NJ, we have very clear descriptions of what our fiduciary responsibilities are - as a "disclosed dual agent", we cannot put the rights of one party over the rights of the other party. Keep in mind that a "disclosed dual agent " is not just the agent who listed the home, but ANY agent who works for that company. I would certainly NEVER ascribe to the earlier comment posted here to NEVER use a listing (dual) agent..............nor would I ascribe to the statement that I have heard from some buyers who say they ONLY want to work with a listing agent (they think they get a "better deal" that way). By the way, in NJ, any agent you work with SHOULD be giving you a "Consumer Information Statement", put out by the State of NJ, which explains all of the above terms and rights you have as a consumer!
To sum it up - you are not locked in to using that agent, but as a courtesy, moving forward, if you are interested in that particular home, by all means continue to use that agent for that home. She (or he) will be spending time with you, hopefully giving you useful information, so it would be a nice gesture to follow through on that home. As far as whether there is "procuring cause", that would be determined if the agent took it to arbitration in the future should you buy the home through another agent. Don't concern yourself with that aspect..............just find an agent who you feel comfortable with, and develop a sound working relationship. Do not, however, be afraid to work with the listing agent.

Let me address one more thing. My company, along with most of the other companies in my area offer full, written seller's disclosures on all homes. This means you will get to see just what the owner knows about their home - age of appliances, furnace, air conditioning, age of home, any prior termite infestation, water issues etc. I disagree with the gentleman that started you might not get true information from a listing agent..............hogwash!! Today we disclose whatever we know about a home, and ask the owner to do the same! My real estate license would be in jeopardy if I didn't do that, and NO commission is worth that!!
Good luck in your home search - and if you don't already live here - WELCOME to NEW JERSEY !!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 14, 2008
forgot to mention in my previous email to you, I am an Accredited Buyer's Representative. If you check the site that Laura, below, just referred you to, you will find my info on it.
I hope to hear from you.

Thanks,
Sharon Kozinn
Web Reference: http://sharonkozinn.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 14, 2008
M -

There is no reason not to continue with the listing agent. Dual agency is not an issue in NJ, agents are educated and professional. Some agents wil try and make it as though a dual agent will try to hurt you in some way, not the case. There is nothing a buyers agent can do for you that will change anything in the sale.
If you like the house you see with the listing agent.. then make an offer with that person.

Buying a house is not a bad thing, 90% of people just want to sell their homes and there is not a bunch of lying and cheating going on as the agent below would lead you to believe. Problems / issues with the house (if there are any) will be addressed during attorney review and negotiated with the same results wether you have a buyers agent or the dual agent . A buyers agent will not have any more say in your behalf then anyone else. period.

So are you locked into that agent? It is a not a concern for you, but the agent can take the other agent to arbitration after the closing to get paid for the sale that they were entitiled to.

Good Luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 14, 2008
Technically, the state issues does not licenses agents but to brokers, broker salespersons and salespersons. That's the way it is listed in state statute and Real Estate Commission rules and regulations.

Laura Giannotta
Keller Williams Atlantic Shore
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 7, 2008
M Salerno: You may well have moved on, since you made an early decision to find an agent and work with him/her and visit homes and present offers through that agent. That decision avoids the need to switch agents down the line, except in the case of sloppy work on the agent’s part.

This message, then, is for all those agents who posted incorrect answers to your question and incorrect comments. While I originally protested out of state answers as being usually uninformed about things real estate in NJ, I find that NJ agents also aren't well informed or have adopted points of view that are at best debatable. One NJ guy even posted an incorrect appellation for his industry connection. No one is a licensed Realtor. The state licenses agents and brokers, not Realtors. Realtors belong to a professional organization. Real estate people may join this organization but membership is neither licensed nor required to sell real estate in any state.

Commission rights and agency are two different issues. You can be an agent for someone and not earn a commission. If a dispute arises, just who earned a commission, when talking of the buyer's agent side of a transaction, is a matter for arbitration, not of the courts, in the NJ Realtor community. A review specific to the individual case and circumstances is conducted, if a formal complaint is entered to the Realtor Association.

Some movement has been made toward buyer agency only brokerages. Members of these firms sometimes insist loudly that they offer the only legitimate service for buyers, often in terms that cast a great deal of doubt on the veracity and effectiveness of dual agents. Some go so far as to indicate that they will be aggressive in pursuing the buyer-client's interest. Back when I took "Contracts" when I was in college, I was told that a contract was a meeting of the minds of the parties. How well do you suppose that may be accomplished if your agent is "at war" against the other party, even if in your interest?

Since dual agency is legal in NJ and the vast majority of brokerages use this form of client service, I'm going to have to say that it seems to be the best all around business model at this time. After all, just how good is a business model that depends on the "adversary," to pay their commission; the very one whom the buyer’s only agent is bound to beat into major concessions, at least according to some of the advocates of this structure? Perhaps when buyer's only agents insist that their clients pay all of their commissions, we might see that only the two forms of agency will exist, those of seller's agents and those of buyer's agents. Until that happens, I believe that any ethical agent can be used and that the factors of local knowledge, familiarity with good negotiating skills and a grasp of all the details that can throw a deal of the tracks are more important then than attitude that the buyer needs a “bulldog” in his corner.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 6, 2008
Whether or not viewing a home through its listing agent constitutes procuring cause, it is nevertheless a big mistake. Why even bother going through a home without your own agent who can look for trouble in the property and save you making a mistake?

I've been through tens of thousands of homes over my career and I can spot many things that the typical buyer will totally miss. Things that the listing agent will be happy to ignore.

The correct procedure is to NEVER call the listing agent to view a home. Always have your own representation and take advantage of the expertise that is freely available to you in the form of an aggressive buyers agent. It costs nothing extra!

-Marc

Marc Paolella
Relocation Director
Member, Worldwide ERC
Licensed Realtor NJ
Licensed Appraiser NJ & NY
Century 21 Joe Tekula Realtors
Phone (direct): (973) 584-4235
Web Reference: http://www.marcpaolella.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 5, 2008
Looking at the page John Moscillo offered as a proof of his point of view I found that most likely in the situation he described the listing agent IS a procuring cause! Now, knowing how tricky this subject is, shouldn't we, real estate agents, advise our customers TO MENTION the fact that there is another agent that already works with them in the situation when they go to the open house, or calling on the advertisements, or do any recearch without buyer's agent presents? And why would you call a procuring cause an agent, who never showed the house, did not do any work that would lead the buyer to the contract in writing?
My best regards to all hard working agents!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 5, 2008
This aspect has been to court many times. If you search the the National Associations of Realtors site you will find some previous articles on it. It does not matter if you have an open house or show the property. That is not procurring cause, if it was I would only need to work 1 year in real estate and then retire. Just showing a house or conducting an OH is not procurring cause.

The suit that was in the realtor magazine last year was this. A consumer went to an open house. He had an agent but was out driving around. Upon entry to the house he was greated by the hosting agent who represents the Seller. The person expressed some interest but then left. A day later he called his agent. The agent was in the house a few weeks before and knew the house well. They drove by together and wrote, and had it accepted, and offer. The LA stated that they were procurring cause. It went to court and the courts decided that they were not procurring cause. They were there as a duty to the seller. The consumer had every legal right to use who ever he choose to then move forward. The agent received his commission.

I also attached a good article from realtytimes.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 5, 2008
For those agents that think this person would be bound to the listing agent, could you provide any evidence for your opinion?

In every state that I know of, showing the property would be a duty of the listing agent, and creates no agency relationship whatsoever. Please understand I am not disputing your expertise; I just find it difficult to imagine you having an agency relationship with everyone who enters an open house on Sunday, simply because you showed them the property.
Web Reference: http://jeffpoleet.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 5, 2008
Find a qualified buyers agent in your area at http://www.rebac.net All Accredited Buyers Represetatives are listed there.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 5, 2008
Just to clear something up that may help you understand the true meaning of some of these answers... In popular use of the term among real estate pros that I know, the term "Selling Agent" is actually the agent that represents the person BUYING the property, also known as the Buyer's Agent.

The "Listing Agent" is the agent that represents the person SELLING the property, also known as the Seller's Agent.

I would suggest you find an agent that can represent you and guide you through the process and explain things like this along the way.

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 5, 2008
M Salerno: I'm glad that you have seen that the best way to work is to use an agent that you plan to work with to see the house you want. There were an awful lot of out of state responses to your question, most of them off the mark as far as NJ practice is concerned.

Simply put, agents make their TOTAL income by getting a commission. We do not get a base salary or benefits. As a matter of fact, we PAY for all these things: our license, our Realtor dues, our MLS membership, our printing and advertising and contribute toward the agency's errors and omissions insurance, without any reference to so much as a single sale. Unfortunately, this makes many of us grubby about sharing commissions.

The procedure in this state (NJ) is that the agent that starts an unbroken process leading to a sale is entitled to a commission. The unbroken aspect of an individual history is open to interpretation and, when a dispute arises, we have an arbitration procedure to determine who is entitled to the commission.

A shadow is cast over the whole thing because NJ has provision for a dual agency situation and the agent must disclose that they are in the position where they must use this technique. If they do disclose and you accept their help, you can be giving them the right to a commission, even if you later decide you want to use a different agent. If that happens, the agent you bring in later may have to get his/her compensation from you and not the seller. In most cases in NJ, the seller agrees to allow his agent to share the commission that the seller pays but you can bet that no seller's agent is going to give a Johnny-come-lately a share that Johnny didn't earn, as far as the seller's agent is concerned. If this kind of thing were allowed, people could show up at closing with "Uncle Herbie" from 100 miles away and award their dear old "Unk" with a large monetary award that "Unk" did nothing to earn and of which the agent that did all the work up to the day of closing was deprived.

I hope you will find exactly what you want in a home and work fairly with an agent who does the best job ever seen. Good Luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 5, 2008
Just because a person shows you a house does not create procurring cause and you are free to choose any agent to represent you as a Buyers Agent as you wish, prior to an offer. The listing agent represents the seller first and foremost.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 5, 2008
If you contact the selling agent to show you the house, you are not obligated to work with that agent. That agent is representing the seller's interests and will show you the house or find some other agent to open the house for you. It would be considered as ministerial act. Some states do not even allow dual agency (I do not know about yours). It would be nice if you would inform the selling agent (or some other agent that opened the house for you) that you already have an agent with whom you work, but who was enable to open this house for you on that day. Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 5, 2008
You are not locked into using the sellers agent as you agent, however she will probabily not share her commission or pay anyrthing if you bring in abuyer agent later as she showed you the house initially. You can bring in a buyers agent later however you are going to pay them out of your pocket. You have nothing to lose by having a buyer agent upon your first contact and everything to gain, why would you not want someone looking out for you and assisting you through the buying process?
Web Reference: http://www.ScottSellsNH.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 5, 2008
My understanding is that having an agent show a home does not commit you to use them, but I would be up front with them, so that they understand your intentions. The listing agent does have a responsibility to the seller to make the property available for potential buyers, so this would be part of that, as long as you disclose it. The listing agent could claim Procuring Cause, but that requires an unbroken chain of events that lead to the sale, and I don't believe simply showing the home meets that standard.

As a couple of people have already mentioned, maybe it would be best to find a buyers agent to help you with your purchase before you look at homes and then you avoid any potential issues all together.

Best of luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 5, 2008
I found this listing on my own and I'm not currently working will an agent. I thought maybe I'll look at the home first and then get a buying agent to represent me. After hearing all your answers I will find an agent and plan to view the home with them. This is a much better business practice. Thanks to everyone for the help.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 5, 2008
If a selling agent shows you a property, unless you tell that agent before you see the property that you are working with another agent, then you are committed to that agent for that particular property. In New Jersey an agent is allowed to work with both the seller and the buyer.
However unless you sign a specific agreement with an agent then you are free to work with any or all agents that you choose but again, if you are shown a house by an agent then you must stick with that agent should you decide to buy it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 5, 2008
No, you are not tied to her, but you should make your intentions clear to her. Why isn't your buyer's agent showing you the property? The problem that you will run into is having the listing agent showing you the house and then another agent putting in an offer...causes hard feelings and might make your negotiations more difficult with the original agent...you think! Honesty is the best policy.
Web Reference: http://gorbuttgroup.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 5, 2008
Why would you have an agent show you a house, if you have no intention of using that agent, if you wanted to make an offer on the house?
You should find an agent that you want to work with, then have them show you that house, and any others that fit your needs.
I work in the Norwood area and would be very happy to show you the listing you are interested in.
Please contact me through my website.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Sharon Kozinn
Web Reference: http://sharonkozinn.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 5, 2008
No, but you should find one agent that you are confident in and stick with that salesperson. Most areas have multiple listing systems and that one agent that is working for you can show you everything that is listed on the market regardless of what agency the listing is listed with. Most buyers do not realize this concept and agents work so hard in finding you a home that they deserve your loyalty as a buyer through the process. So if you are not interested in working with this agent, I would call the agent and tell them you will no longer will be working with them, so they are not wasting the time trying to contact you in the future or that they continue searching on your behalf and sending you listings.

http://www.GorbuttGroup.com
Web Reference: http://gorbuttgroup.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 5, 2008
No, you are not. However, if you have signed an agreement to work only with that agent, it is a general courtesy to send him something in writing indicating you will no longer be working with him. A good Realtor will work very hard to assist you with evey house on the market. Find one you are comfortable with and let them help you find just the right home. Please let me know if I can assist further. Kelly Robertson, 501-538-4370 Lake Hamilton Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 5, 2008
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