Home Buying in Walnut Creek>Question Details

Joe, Home Buyer in Menlo Park, CA

Can I use 2 buyers agents at the same time?

Asked by Joe, Menlo Park, CA Fri Jul 6, 2012

I have hired a buyer's agent and he is going to make an offer on a house that has a high # of bids so it is unlikely that my offer will be accepted. I'm not sure I want to continue with this agent for future houses. Is it illegal or unethical for me to hire a new agent to find another house right now?

Help the community by answering this question:


" Is it illegal or unethical for me "
Seriously Joe, you know the answer.
Every parent who has raised a child has instructed, "If you have to ask if I should, Don't do it!" The mere presence of the question indicates a core value is about to be violated.
Of course, soliciting opinions on the internet should make it ALL RIGHT.
Consider this and how it would look on you
"Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you will help them become what they are capable of being."
How would you like to be treated?

Annette Lawrence, Broker/Associate
Remax Realtec Group, Palm Harbor, FL
727.420.4041 - http://www.RealEstateMadeEZ.us
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 6, 2012
Hello Joe: I am a long time experienced Broker in Central Contra Costa--Walnut Creek area. You should work with one agent and obtain a written agreement for a period of time. If you are not satisfied cancel.

It is not illegal or unethical for you to hire a new agent but when you have a written agreement that agent could receive the commission.

Kay V. Lanway,

P.S. I am also on the Professional Standards panel at my Bd of REaltors.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 6, 2012
Let me get this right...the agent you are currently using is good enough to present an offer that you feel has little chance of being accepted but may not be one that you are willing to continue working with......

You see nothing wrong with wasting his/her time on "a wild goose chase?"

As previously stated, you have the right to change agents but from a "right and wrong" perspective, you may be crossing the line. Try putting yourself in the agent's shoes and imaging how it will feel when they learn of your insincerity.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 6, 2012
Yes, you can sign more than 1 Buyer Agency Agreement, but this will put you in a position of possibly owing commissions to both agents.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 13, 2014
Absolutely no. You can't work with two agents at the same time. First of all you must sing an agreement with your agent.
Any agent that works with you and does not have you sing an agreement is not following the law.

Also, you are creating a competition for a commission and even when agent A has found you the house perhaps agent B had already shown you this listing in an email. Then agent b gets the commission

You need to be very careful as you can create a lot of problems for those two agents.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 10, 2012
Can you check your spelling before posting?
Flag Wed Aug 20, 2014
also not true at all in Florida!!
Flag Thu Feb 21, 2013
Also, there is new regulation being implemented that is putting all agents in the obligation the have their clients sign and agency agreement. It is suggested that if the client does not want to sing you should not bother working with them
Flag Mon Dec 10, 2012
It depends on if you signed an (C.A.R.) Buyer Representation Agreement with the agent, in which case you may be responsible for paying a commission to the broker if you did not write the offer with the agent. There are three types of buyer representation agreements.

The BRNN does not commit the buyer to using only one broker because it is non-exclusive and revocable. The buyer may switch brokers at any time. While this form does not commit the buyer to one broker, using two different brokers on the same piece of property is very confusing to all parties and may not help the buyer at all in negotiating with the seller. A better practice by a buyer would be to revoke one agreement before entering into another with a different broker.

The BRNE does commit the buyer to paying the broker (irrevocable) in certain circumstances, but it is non-exclusive which means that the buyer may use more than one broker. The broker only gets paid if the broker introduces the specific property to the buyer or otherwise acts on the buyer's behalf. It would be permissible to use this contract with two different brokers on two different properties without paying both.

The BRE commits the buyer to a single broker for the transaction. It is exclusive and irrevocable. Even if a buyer enters into another agreement with another broker, or uses another broker without the benefit of an agreement, if the buyer acquires the property identified in the agreement the buyer may still owe the broker compensation.

Source: The New C.A.R. Buyer Representation Agreements: Legal Department.

As for the unethical part one need only look within themselves to determine the level of integrity that one wishes to operate under. This is where the Golden Rule comes into play. Lack of communication is the most common reason for misunderstandings between clients and their agents. Best business practice suggest having a discussion with your agent at the onset of the relationship to determine a designated time period and action to be taken should you wish to end your working relationship.

This is a very common situation and is why brokers and their agents are encouraged to use these agreements. Outlining the responsibilities of both parties is good business practice and brings certainty and predictability back to the buyer-broker relationship.

If you are interested in reviewing the entire article please feel free to contact me.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 4, 2012

Why the change?

Inform the consumer: The law is to make sure consumers are fully informed about the real estate services they'll receive and the nature of the relationship with the licensee.
Mitigate REALTOR® liability: The law is designed to protect licensees by making sure full disclosure is provided and the nature of brokerage relationship is reduced to writing. It's to eliminate much of the consumer confusion that can come back and bite the licensee.
Discourage opportunisitic dual agency: The law is intended to make sure that licensees who practice dual agency are fully informing consumers about the risky nature of that relationship.
Flag Mon Dec 10, 2012
It think you need to speak with your agent because you might have contractual obligation. It was not clear as to whether your agent did anything wrong? Is it a case of you not following the agent advice? for example making low ball offers thus losing the deal?

A second buyer's agent would ask if you were already in a contract, and if you answer yes the correct step would be for the second agent to walk away.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 11, 2012
Hi Joe,

Let your agent know that you are not happy with their services and that you may be looking for a new realtor if this home purchase doesn't go through. Before you write a contract with another agent on another property, cancel the contract you have in place. You wouldn't want to find yourself buying two homes.

It is disappointing when we loose our clients but if they know what they are doing wrong or where they are lacking, they might come back to surprise you with better service than you expected.

Best of luck on your home search and if you need help don't hesitate to call.

Best regards,

Lillie Missbrenner, Realtor
Short Sale, REO and HAFA Certified
Better Homes and Garden
Cell: 925-628-9100
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 11, 2012
In working with a buyers agent remember he works on commission only. The National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics actually frowns on this sort of action from other Realtors in their community. Which is why most good ethical Realtors will ask if you are working with another Realtor because it can cause a conflict and actually cause disciplinary action on the agents if the issue is pushed. The agent you start working with has time and yes money invested in actually working with you in hopes it will pay off once you find a home. At the same time if you just clash perhaps you should discuss it with that agent and if it something he is not willing to correct then proceed with contacting his Broker and ask to be re-assigned to another agent.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 11, 2012

Are you unhappy with the service you are receiving? If you are then you should let your current agent know. It is likely that they would be more than happy to accommodate your needs. If you are unsatisfied with the results of that conversation by all means find a new agent. but let your current agent know first.

You should be comfortable with the person representing you for perhaps the biggest purchase of your life. However, you should never work with two agents at the same time, that is unethical, agents work really hard for their clients and are very loyal to them. If you are unhappy simply let them know, they'll respect and appreciate your candidness...and so will you.

Best of LUCK!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 11, 2012
It is way more professional to use one buyer agent. Now, if you feel that somewhere along the process you needed to switch, it would then be necessary to let one agent go in order to work with another.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 11, 2012
Not really, if you didn't like his/her work then it's fair to say you don't have to stay with him/her. The only time you are obligated to stay with an agent is when you have a meeting of the mind other then that you can shop around to find the best agent who will suit your needs and time. Wish you the best. Jeannette Batsikas
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 10, 2012

I think it would be more ethical to simply let the first agent know that you no longer need his/her services and then go to agent # 2. Just an opinion.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 10, 2012
Just an FYI ... an agency disclosure in California is very different than the Agency Agreement noted by several of the agents who are outside CA. All agents are required to have an Agency Relationship disclosure signed by their client prior to writing an offer or taking a listing. In Central Contra Costa County, CA the Buyer - Broker Agreement, which is a binding agreement between the parties, is not used often. If you as the buyer and your existing agent have signed such an agreement and you want to cancel it but your agent does not, then I suggest you contact an attorney. Your best first step is to have a frank discussion with your existing agent.

If you do not have such a written agreement, then the honorable thing to do on your part is to notify your existing agent that you will no longer be working with him.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jul 8, 2012
If you have signed an agency agreement with that agent, you should be asked about this by the other agent, or you should let the new person you are meeting with know, because the other agent cannot enter into an agreement with a client who has an agreement with another agent, this could leave the new agent in a very untenable ethical situation. You also seem to not have an understanding of what agency means, and if you have any liability. Did your agent explain agency or have you sign an agency agreement, if so this is a legally binding contract with both parties to this responsible until the agency agreement or contract term has come to term, of both parties have come to some agreement to mutually terminate this contract. I am not a lawyer , so if I were you I would contact someone with a legal license and have them explain it better than I can , but this is my understanding of what agency means.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jul 8, 2012
it sounds like you signed a buyer/broker agreement and if you did you need to read that carefully. You can always use another agent if you feel strongly about it, but in doing so you could be bound by your legal contract with the first agent to pay him a commission.

You need to examine why you want to change agents. Have a conversation with your agent ... and you each can decide whether this is a good match ... just realize if you have a contract it's not just up to you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jul 8, 2012
Probably not illegal(unless Buyer has Exclusive Agreement with Agent) but when one works hard and dilligently for their clients I would probably take a different approach. I would pass or fire the Buyers!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jul 8, 2012
If you've signed an exclusive agreeement to work with the first agent, then it may be trickier to move on. Either way though, my suggestion is that you be up front and honest. The only thing an agent has with which to make her living is her skills and time. Find an agent with the right skills and then honor the relationship and respect her time. If you are not confident in the abilities of the first agent then in my view the right thing to do is explain whey you are making a change. As far as the first house goes, sounds like you have made an offer on a "hot house". This is happening a lot in this market - the best homes are attracting multiple offers.

Good luck and best,
Jeanne Feenick
Unwavering Commitment to Service, Unsurpassed Results
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jul 8, 2012
I have two clients that are using other agents. They are AREA specific type buyers who want REALTORS who know their unique areas. I think its unethical to keep the information to yourself, but not illegal to do. I think when you tell me after I'm showing you property that's not a good feeling of honesty.
And I'm sure any agent understands that customers have access to tons of information now and many realtors. I think that its a shame that customers have such a robust information line, without the piece of understanding that "finding the best realtor for you" is the best way to go.

Letting a Realtor get to know you and help you is very important to creating a relationship that works for a long time. Also understand that their service area is broader than a10 mile radius. Most realtors can help you with property within a 100 mile radius in Northern California and do so quite easily.

I'm not sure why people shy away from the committment to one, but you should get much better service that way. And if you dont, then you get one you DO get great service with. Good Luck Joe.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 7, 2012
I wouldn't go as far as to say it's illegal albeit if you've signed an exclusive listing agreement with him he could possibly hassle you on a breach of sorts. Unethical perhaps. But that's a moral dicision you'd have to make in the end.

Like others have said just have an eyeball to eyeball with the agent. Unless he's a real jerk or there's more to the story than we know I would think he'd be happy to catch and release. I certainly wouldn't want to be in a business relationship with someone who didn't want to be in one with me.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 6, 2012
Honesty is the best solution...I think we can All agree.

Just have a conversation with your agent, I'm almost certain he/she will respect your decision.

Jason David Maddox
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 6, 2012
Checking in from a lenders point of view and having watched this happen not only to me, but to buyer's agents, here is my in put.

Whatever you choose to do, be honest with the agent you are choosing to leave behind. Thank them for their time and let them know you no longer wish to work with them. This is important so that they wont put more time into a project that wont be going to completion.

Ours is a business that is based very strongly on relationships. You have to feel comfortable with the person who is helping you with the biggest investment of your life. It is a series of emotional, as well as financial, stressess.

Just be honest. You want to have good karma with you during your home purchase.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 6, 2012
Hi Joe. As professional Realtor's we all have had it happen to us once in a while. When possible have the conversation with the agent who is writing the offer on the multiple offer property and let them know about your concerns and expectations. If they can't be met than you can part ways and proceed with representation. As a community we work together to the benefit of the buyer's and seller's we work with and you should work with the agent that has the most local knowledge and who you feel most comfortable with. It may be something where you want to have a buyer/broker agreement in place that you work with your designated Realtor for a set period of time. That way you are not playing on both sides of the fence.


Bryce Schumacher
J. Rockcliff Realtors - Lafayette
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 6, 2012
It's not illegal or unethical, but it's not nice to the agent you've been working with., At the very least, I encourage you to be honest with the current agent, and tell him or her that you wish to work with another agent.

We don't get paid for our time, only successful transactions. By being honest with agent number one, you are being respectful of that person's time. At that point, it';s the agent's decision whether to continue working with you or to graciously exit the scene.

All of this is presuming that you did not sign an exclusive buyer's agent agreement...If you did happen to sign one, it is a very different scenario...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 6, 2012
Interesting that you already it unlikely your offer will be accepted -- why? Price, terms and conditions not competitive?

What are your reasons for discontinuing with this agent --- have you lost out on your other offers? If your offers were written based on your directions in spite of what your agent has recommended, then perhaps you should examine your directions instead of changing your agents.

Right now, with low inventories, we are experiencing multiple offer/over bidding situations. Knowing that, and if you really want a house, why wouldn't you adjust not only your expectations but also your strategy.

We have so many buyers who still think it's a buyer's market and as such, think they can low ball an offer. After getting beat out on a few offers, they finally change gears. Changing agents but not changing strategies will reap the same results.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 6, 2012
As you can see, most of us are emotional about your question. This is because we are professional consultants and are only paid when we close an escrow. If you have a knowlegeable realtor that is aggressively working with you in this fast paced, crazy market, then it is not to your advantage to dilute hi/her efforts.

Communication and committment are two things that will get you where you want to go. Make sure you are using a local realtor that knows the ins and outs of this market.

Suzanne Looker
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 6, 2012
Hi Joe:

I see you are in Menlo Park and presumably writing an offer in Walnut Creek, based on where you posted the question. Could it be that you are working with an agent that does not know the Walnut Creek market? If so, you will probably be well advised to change to an agent who works the San Ramon Valley. But please, as others have said, do not just work with two agent concurrently. This is not fair to either of them. Ethically, you have to to close out your relationship with your present agent before starting to work with another one.

Bernard Gibbons

Bernard Gibbons, J. Rockcliff Realtors
DRE License # 01331583
Phone (925) 997-1585 - bernard@bernardgibbons.com

0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 6, 2012
The other answers here are generally discussing the mechanics of the answer . . . which is fine. In brief, all agents should be kept informed, and you can do it so long as you haven't signed an exclusive agreement. (If you have, you need to get released from that agreement first.)

The bigger question, though, is choosing an agent that'll best meet your needs. That means a familiarity with the geographical area, a familiarity with the type of property you're looking for, and a compatability with each other--buyer and agent.

Sometimes it makes sense to use 2 agents at the same time. Perhaps you're looking in 2 different states, and one or both of the agents is only licensed in one of the states. Sometimes you might be looking at 2 wildly different types of properties. Those situations exist, but they're relatively rare. And it doesn't sound as if they apply in your case.

You haven't explained why you're dissatisfied with your current agent. Think it through. If there are legitimate reasons (the agent doesn't know the geographic area you're interested in, the agent doesn't promptly follow up on your calls or e-mails, etc.), then certainly consider terminating your relationship with the first one and finding another one. But if it's just because you've ended up in a multiple-bid situation, that happens to all agents.

Whatever you do, though, be absolutely honest and transparent with all agents involved.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 6, 2012
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Fairfax, VA
As Tina states, unless you've signed an exclusive agent contract you can hire as many agents as you want. It would be unethical, in my opinion, not to inform each of them that you have hired other agents, thus giving them the opportunity to walk away if they want to.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 6, 2012
If you didn't sign an agreement, you can move on.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 6, 2012
Unless you've signed an exclusivity agreement with that first agent, you're under no contractual obligation to keep using him. However, if you happen to get lucky and win that first bid, you'll have to use him for the rest of the transaction. Otherwise, you're free to work with another agent.
Web Reference: http://www.archershomes.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 6, 2012
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