Home Buying in 08053>Question Details

Sue, Both Buyer and Seller in Marlton, NJ

Do I have to use the realtor who showed us the house I want to buy even if I never signed a contract with her?

Asked by Sue, Marlton, NJ Sun Aug 5, 2007

We have been out with a realtor twice to see several houses. We have decided we would like to put a bid in on a house and put ours on the market. We were looking into a different realtor because ours is not as available as we would like. When I tried to let her go, she said that we could not legally buy the other house without her since she was the one who first brought us to the house. Is this true - even though we have never signed any kind of contract with her? Is it a NJ law? Or is it an ethical thing? I feel trapped with someone I don't have full confidence in.

Help the community by answering this question:


First, I work in California, so I don't know the real estate law or common practice in New Jersey. This is my disclaimer.

This might not be a popular answer, but here is my take.

Not knowing all the details but by just looking at your question, you were out with this agent twice to see several houses. She did show you the house that you want to buy. However, you are not happy with her service because she was somehow not available when you needed her. Basically, you are not confident that she will be able to meet your needs going forward, so you are looking for another realtor to represent you in the purchase of this house and the listing of your own house. She demanded you stay with her otherwise you owe commission to her.

From what I can see, since you have not signed a contract with this agent, you don’t have a legal obligation to pay her. Also, you did not go into the details, but sounds like her performance is not up to what you have expected. As your realtor, she has the fiduciary duty of utmost care , …etc, to her clients. If her performance is not up to par and there is no contract in place, I don’t see why you are obligated to pay her the commission just because she showed the house to you during a couple of outings.

In addition, the commission is usually paid by the sellers to the listing agent and then split between the listing agent and the selling agent; not by you, unless you signed a contract with a buyer’s agent, in which case, you, as a buyer, might have a different obligation to her.

But talking to the first agent or her Broker first to resolve the issue as suggested by Brigette is a very good idea. It is always preferable to work out things instead of making drastic moves. Who knows, she might turn around and become a great Realtor for you, In which case, you have a win-win situation.

I know you must be anxious and confused, I am sure it will all work out. Best of luck.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 5, 2007
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Marin, CA
This is not legal advice; consult an attorney for legal advice. I am a licensed FL & NJ Real Estate Broker.

As a Broker my first and foremost concern is the proper representation of the buyers and sellers that our firm and agents represent. You made two statements about the agent who first showed you the property. 1) She wasn’t readily available and 2) You don’t have confidence.

You are not legally required to buy from this agent or broker. As mentioned by other Real Estate Pros, what you have here is a question of procuring cause that would determine who has the right to earned commission at the close of the sale. Procuring cause is the interplay of factors which demonstrate the unbroken efforts of a broker (through their agent) that are responsible for the buyer making a decision to consummate the sale. The first agent was indicating to you that she believed she is the procuring cause, willing and able to continue in representation and entitled to commission. In NJ, an agent cannot bring a case for procuring cause, only the Broker can. A case for procuring cause can negotiated by the brokers, be heard through arbitration of a board or heard in a court. It is in everyone’s best interest for the brokers to reach an amicable solution without further escalation.

Does the first agent through her broker have a case for procuring cause? I can’t answer that from the limited information. But, my advice for resolution does follow later.

You asked if it was an ethical thing? I believe it is. And for that, I would ask you to reflect on the following. Do you believe the initial agent is entitled to any compensation? Why or why not? Your opinion matters here. I will explain later.

Have you identified the replacement agent? That agent, if subject to a procuring cause dispute, could be working wondering if they will or will not be paid, in full, or partially. Most procuring cause hearings are win or lose all. Most Broker negotiated settlements are resolved in accordance with a reasonable and agreed upon split. That is better for all parties.

I suggest that you phone the Broker of the first agent and simply explain your situation. As a Broker, my first and foremost concern is that a buyer or seller be properly represented. As Broker, my first attempt at resolution may be to inquire if there is a way that I can assist and keep the first agent on the contract, unless the failures on behalf of the agent were beyond that suggestion. Perhaps with more supervision, it could go smoothly. If you said no, I would immediately respect that. My next proposal would be to suggest the assignment of an alternative agent in my office. I would then allocate a split of commission between the two agents in my office. If you told me that you had already found an agent from another firm that you were quite sure you wanted to represent you, I would respect that. If the latter were the case, I would discuss with you how much work the first agent did, and what she did or did not do for you. This information would be important to me so that I could respond appropriately to you, and perhaps with a huge apology! I want to know and do care what happens between customers and agents. It would also allow me to discuss the situation with my agent, and the broker of the replacement agent.

If it is reasonable that a portion of the compensation be allocated to the first agent, in accordance with the work and services performed, I would work that out with the other broker. This would avoid any procuring cause disputes, and allow your new replacement agent to carry forward.

I have based my response on your indication that you did not sign anything and do not have a buyer agency agreement. I outlined how I would handle the situation as you described. I believe that most Brokers are reasonable and would want to hear from you, but have no way to predict what the Broker in this instance will do or say.

If you were to simply move forward with an agent from another firm, the commission could be held in escrow or trust until a procuring cause hearing determined the outcome. Or, the Broker from the first agent may not ever bring about a claim for procuring cause. The better solution, and the ethical approach, would be to simply address it now.

The first and most important priority is that your best interests maintain the number one priority. You do not have to work with an agent whom you do not have confidence or feel is unavailable.
9 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 5, 2007
If you did not sign a contract you have a right to use whom you wish and not suffer the unnecessary grief of above references. I did not like my realtor agent as she was never available and never understanding of my needs. Yes, I changed and with no remorse, no asking anyone, no dialing the telephone to ask if it was okay. It'a okay. I did it and its okay. So just do it and be happy in your new home.
Flag Sat Sep 26, 2015
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Brick, NJ
Real estate law varies from state to state, so I will leave the bottom line "legal" answer to a current NJ REALTOR (oh Deborah... where are you?). But I believe this issue can be addressed by the standards of practice set forth by the National Association of REALTORs (NAR):

this is a quagmire all REALTORs dread (and try to avoid!)... As Jim and Edyn both mentioned--the REALTOR who found and showed you the house is due a portion of the sale commission because she is the "procuring cause" of the sale, regardless of any other considerations. You do not have to use her as your buyers agent, but before you jump the boat and hire a new REALTOR, which will only muddy the waters further, speak to the agents supervisor--the "broker of record". Explain the situation to the broker of record, and the agent may bow out gracefully with a simple referral fee (which agent will "share" his/her commission to pay this fee is yet another matter). Most REALTORs do not wish to work with a client who is unhappy with their services (sorry this happened to you!). The agent in question has spent a bit of time with you (she took you out twice and showed you several houses) and her insistence is only way she will be compensated for this time. As to whether this is an ethical violation, there are far too many nuances not addressed in your question to make that judgement call. Most likely, it's a simple matter of miscommunication and/or misunderstanding. I hope that helps! And please be sure to retain the services of a buyers agent to assist with your purchase--don't let one negative experience put you off the idea. Get referrals from friends and family to find a good one in your area... Please re-post if you need any further clarification. Best of luck and happy hunting!
5 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 5, 2007
Ask your new choice of Realtor if they would please pay a referral fee to the 1st agent who originally showed you the home. That would settle everyones hurt feelings. I know I would take the referral and be pleased that the truth was told.
4 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 15, 2007
The legal answer, if you have not signed an exclusive buyer agency agreement with that Realtor, is NO, you don't have to use them.

The ETHICAL answer, if that Realtor showed you the house, would be YES. Why would you want to deny that realtor payment for work she had already done for you?

You do not have to list your house with her or see any other houses with her if you are not happy with her.

Just a question: in what way was she "not as available" as you would have liked? WHat would you have liked her to do that you she didn't? Please be specific.

You also state you do not have confidence in her, which is different from she is not as available as you would like. What has she done to may you not trust her?
4 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 15, 2007
You just got excellent AGENT and REALTOR advice. Here is MY advice as a buyer and seller just like you.

You are putting the cart before the horse. Your offer may never even be accepted because you haven't even put your house on the market. I was shocked a few years back that my offer to buy a house contingent upon selling my house was flatly refused even though my offer was higher than all the other offers and higher than asking price.

You need to forget about the house you want for a while and concentrate on selling your house first. Start by interviewing 3 to 5 Realtors to represent you as a Seller's Agent. Get tons of advice from the agent you choose and then FIX UP YOUR HOUSE. Only after that should you put your house on the market. Your seller's agent should be putting together a marketing blitz for the day it is ready to sell. By being patient BEFORE your house is on the market, you will get the best price once it is available. This could be just a couple days or it could be months if you have to do something like fix a mold problem in the basement.

Once you have a buyer for your house, then see if the house you want to buy is still available. If it is, you will most likely get a better price than before. If it's not, there are other houses out there. You probably would not have gotten this one anyway.

Now, if the house you want to buy is still available, have your Seller's Agent talk to the agent who originally showed you the house and request a referral situation. Or have your attorney present the offer and leave the commission dispute to the original agents. YOU do not want to get involved in the commission dispute. It has nothing to do with you. You cannot save that commission by cutting out the agent.

Years ago, I remember a $100,000 house across the street from me that had a weak real estate agent. The seller was worried that the agent was going to mess everything up. After she got the contract to sell her home, she found another Realtor to help her buy another home for $200,000. The home she was buying had a similar situation with a domino effect. As it turned out, FIVE houses were involved. If the $100,000 house closing fell through, the other 5 sales would fall through and the 5th house was a million dollar home. The agent for the million dollar home ended up handling most of the transaction for the $100,000 home. Everyone got their commissions and their homes sold. And that is why the million dollar agent is able to sell million dollar homes, he/she knows how to solve problems.

Good luck,
4 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 9, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558

I am licensed in Nevada, and here in Nevada we used to have what is called "procuring cause" which meant exactly what your agent told you. She showed you the house first so she would be entitled to the commission. Nevada changed its position on "procuring cause" because of situations just like yours. The agent is not returning phone calls, not doing their job, etc.

Here is the best way for you to know for sure. Call your local "Real Estate Division" for whatever town the home is in that you wish to purchase. Ask the "Real Estate Divisions" if there are New Jersey LAWS in regards to "Procuring Cause" and explain your situation. Then if there are no laws in regards to this issue, you will then want to call the local "Board of Realtors" and again explain your situation and ask them what are their RULES in regards to "Procuring Cause". If for some reason you cannot find your local board of Realtors phone number, here is the phone number to the "National Association of Realtors" 1-800-874-6500 they will be happy to provide you with the phone number to your local board.

Hope this helps you out. Good luck and I hope you get that house you want.


John Goad, Jr.
of The Goad Team
Century 21 Infinty
Las Vegas, NV
Web Reference: http://www.GoadTeam.com
3 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 15, 2007
In some states, your agent would have a very weak argument at best (in all others, no argument at all) for the procurring cause. She'd have to show that she showed you the property and "SOLD" you on it.

As a side note, there is no reason not to use her (except for this latest tactic) just based on availability. In NJ the largest part of the agent's role is almost over. She was apparently available enough to show you the homes.

Bottomline, You can pick who you want to help you purchase the home. If it's for a REAL reason, then it would be very difficult and costly to come back and do anything to you. The last thing this Realtor needs right now is a public trial (you'd have to make it that way) about how you felt she was incompetent.

It's a tough question either way. To me if availability is the ONLY issue, then I say use her, if there are other factors, then call the Broker, tell them how you feel, if you haven't selected a new agent, ask for one. Then the Broker will definitely be on your side (should be anyway).
3 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 15, 2007
Joshua Jarvis, Real Estate Pro in Duluth, GA
I have heard this scenario many times. I lost a buyer once this way and I have been given deals from the other side as well. Just communicate better; agents, buyers, sellers, don't be afraid to be upfront. Tell the Broker of the company your Realtor works for your story. Don't give a freebee away so easily to a phone call or open house, just on a whim decision to switch. If you don't like the company , you let go of (from "procuring cause"), interview another Realtor and ask him/her to show the property, start over. Then, have a letter to the old agent sent stating that you have switched. You have to be comfortable and tie those "loose ends." Remember, if an agent asks if you are currently working with another agent, speak up, give your home buying status.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 15, 2007
I had this happen to me very early in my career.i was told up front by my client.Except little different circumstances.my client knocked on the door and the SELLER showed him the house.Seller and buyer agreed on a price that day.Listing agent contacted the buyer to write the contract.
Buyer was extremely unhappy with the Listing agents demeanor and they actually argued in his office.
Listing agent never showed property to buyer physically.
I got the call to step in and write the offer and represent buyer as buyers agent.
I knew this was going to be an issue.So I called listing agent prior to bringing contract to him.
ell he wanted a referral fee of 75%.My buyer adamantly wanted him not to get 1 penny because of his actions that day.
But I knew this was an ethical issue and a possible procuring cause issue.After a few heated calls from listing agent and negotiations.We settled on a 25% referral fee to listing agent.
My buyer was willing to not buy the house because of listing agents actions.
We settled on the property.I paid the 25% referral fee.It was a very hard deal.The agent was a real pain in the rear the whole transaction.So I understood as I progressed why the buyer didn't feel he could work with this guy.
We are bound by ethics and the law to protect our clients and look out for their best interests at all times.
The 1st agent should get something for sure.If she actually showed you the house.She should be paid something for that.
It's for those 2 agents to work out.You just need to be up front about it.The most work comes after the contract is submitted.So no, you don't have to use that agent if you feel she won't be servicing you the way you feel she should be.Shame on her for not giving you the availability you want and need.
Another answer is the broker at her office stepping in and assigning a proxy agent (the broker will know the BEST agent to give you) and then let them work it out at their office so you don't need to stress about it.
Good Luck , go get your house you want.But do the right thing in the process please.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 15, 2007
Gee Wiz Guys So Much Advice But All For Nothing.
Number 1. Realtors are people also and sometimes of an agent is busy you should take that into consideration. If that realtor is that busy you know you have an agent that is knowledgeable and everyone wants her. No realtor is at anyones beck and call. Not saying you are the type of person that when they want sonething it has to be now and you make the rules. That is not being human being.

Number 2. Many of us agnets have put forth a Buyers Agreement in front of people that make us the sole agent that you can only deal with. And yes m,any of the agents in our county and boards will tell a buyer that they respect each other and will not tkae the bread outof some ones elses mouth. Agents that do things like this are not very respected by othr agents in our board or county. I have had agents call me up when I had a buyer that already has a contract with a home call me about my client. I then call the client and mention it and ask a few questions and read them the riot act.

Number 3 If an agent showed you a home, took there time to look up the particulars and did a Comparative Market research Pirce on it, you have taken the time and and respect of that agent with you. Case and point, there is one ralty company here in Brevard County Florida I will never Deal with again, They took my buyer, went behind my back, never releasing the information that the Mortgage was assumable, and grab my buyers. WThe buyer calls me up and tells me that I lied to them about it. But I couldn't have because the other agency did not realy that information to me because she said she didn't have to at the time. SO I have nothing but bad theings to say about her and the agents that work for her. We stick together here and it goes around when we have clients and agents that play the game.

Number 4. Your agent is the procuring cause of the showing and to write the buying contract. But again you did not sign a Buyer Broker Agreement that would state that you are bound to that agent for a specific amount of time. I lost another sale because of a ReMax agent that took one of my clients away from me that was not explained the paper work she was signing. She is from another country and only here about 10 years. But I had and do not have any recourse in the manner because I did not have her sign the Buyer Broker Agreement. These can also be made to only lock in a prospective buyer for a single property. But they are not used that way.

Number 5 If you have to sell a property first before you buy, then why even look at homes before you have a contract on the one you have to sell first? 9 out of 10 sellers will not agree to this, specially if they need to sell fast. And you can forget about tryiong to do this with a short sale or bank foreclosure in todays market.

Do the right thing and contact the broker of the agency, ask them about the agent and how busy she is. You may find out that she is that busy, or she helps take care of loved one sick at home that needs constant care at times you want this agent at your beck and call. If this is the case the boker may assign another agent to you and give the other agent a referral fee in house from the commission. If the agent in't happy about it. as we say.OH WELL
But give the agent the benefit of the doubt. Give that agent the courtesy of some loyalty being that they have already done a lot of work for you at this point.

As for some of the other comments I have read. I am glad a copule of you do not work in my area.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 4, 2008

The bottom line is that most of the time this is not a legal issue in the sense that there are generally NO LAWS in place that decide who is entitled to a commission. Commission issues are generally a matter of RULES set forth by the "Board of Realtors" This is why I advised you to talk to your local "Real Estate Division" (the division is a government run organization that handles the LAWS in regards to real estate) they are the one who enforce the real estate LAWS on agent, brokers and even the general public. Your local "Board of Realtors" has RULES that members are required to abide by. An agent must be a member of the Board of Realtors, in order to be called a REALTOR; otherwise that person is simply a real estate agent. As a REALTOR we must abide by the Board of Realtors rules, and their rules are almost always what determines who is entitled to a commission.

While Bridgette is correct that there is a distinct difference between an Agent and a Broker, that does not necessarily mean that a broker knows more than an agent. My broker is constantly coming to ME for advice.

I am not a broker, however I have been a licensed Realtor for 10 years, was previously a mortgage broker, I am licensed in Nevada and Utah, have the following designations: GRI (Graduate of the Realtor Institute), e-Pro (Certified Internet Professional), Fines Homes and Estates Designation, Matures Moves Specialist Designation, and more. I am also currently only 1 college credit away from my brokers license. And even with all of my experience I highly recommend you get your answers straight from the source. Call your local "Real Estate Division" and "Board of Realtors" they are the ones that make and change the LAWS and RULES, who better to ask then the ones that make the rules and laws. Be sure and get the names of the people who answered your question.

You may want to speak to another Realtor that you are comfortable with and explain to them your situation. Then that Realtor can call your former agent and try to work it out.

I had a situation very similar to this once. A client came to me and said he hated the agent he was working with and want a particular home, but that another agent had showed him the house and even wrote an offer on the house for him. He told me he would loose the house before he would buy it from that agent. So I called this persons previous agent, told her of the situation. She agreed to take a referral fee from me and walk away, as this agent knew that a referral fee would be better than nothing at all. So you may want to try this approach.

Again I hope this helps you, and that you get the home you want.


John Goad, Jr.
of The Goad Team
Century 21
Web Reference: http://www.GoadTeam.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 16, 2007
Being a Broker I am aware that all people do not mix. I have been "Stiffed" twice by showing houses and having another agent write the offers on them. I have learned to ask questions now. ("If I show you a house will I write the offer?") You should talk to the Broker about the agent and express your views on changing the agents. There is a possibility that another agent in the office can write the offer and the showing agent get a referral fee. We as professionals work very hard to get buyers in houses for them to view and get both side to the closing table. I feel that it is unethical to cut the agent out completely since they did take the time to show you properties. This is how we make a living and only get paid if we close a property. Should she be the listing agent on the property the Broker will be more than willing to help you with the offer and should have a policy in place to assist in this. With this being said remember we have more than one client , therefore, the Broker should be able to work out an agreeable solution to get the offer written and hopefully get you to the closing table and in your new home.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 15, 2007
I truly like Ruths' advice! I have never been an advocate of putting contingency offers in. There is way too much to lose and not much at all to gain.

If your offer is accepted you still have to do your inspections for your own protection and ensure that nothing is wrong with the property at a cost of around $400 for the combination mechanical, A/C and wood destroying insect.

If another offer comes in while you are attempting to sell your house, in Texas at least, you as the buyer have approximately 48 hours to decide to waive the contingency, which might place you in a loan situation that isn't good, or just cause you to default. Your inspection fees have been wasted, and all your dreams of that home are dwon the drain.

Good luck, but consider selling your home first and you will avoid the dilema in the process..

Chris Tesch
RE/MAX Bryan-College Station
Web Reference: http://www.ChrisTesch.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 15, 2007

In Texas, we have "Buyers Representation Agreements", which a contract between buyers and their agent. These agreements are used to help protect the public by clearly defining the agents fudiciary responsiblities of the agent to the buyer. Meaning, who's best interest does the agent have? The buyers (yours) or the sellers? In Texas, if you do not have such an agreement by default the agent represents the seller. I highly recommend that you choose a agent that you feel good about, sign this agreement and make sure that your best interests are served.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 15, 2007
Sue, Warren is correct in saying that the agent who showed you the home is the procurring cause. I understand your situation. I would advise that you discuss your concerns with the agent and ask that they possibly team up with someone in the office so you get the service you deserve. You could also go right to the broker in the office to discuss this. Good Luck to you with your new home and selling your current home.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 9, 2007
In NJ....as stated in the earlier answer it is "procuring cause" which basically means, the person who brings in the contract get the deal unless you signed some sort of Buyers Agency Agreement. Ethically and personally, if the agent took the time to show you the home that is the person you should present your offer thru. Going to another agency to present an offer from a home that another agent showed you is frowned upon by any ethical agent and they should direct you back to the agent that showed you the home or at least to the Broker of that office to work with or assign and agent from that original office.
You can then use whatever agent you want to SELL your home. (Unless you signed a listing agreement already.)
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 6, 2007
Sue -

First, my answer is specific to Virginia, as all states have their own laws and regulations.

Can the agent force you to use her to buy that house? NO.

She is referring to procuring cause - whereby the agent who produces the buyer through an uninterrupted chain of events has "earned" the commission.

I would advise you to hire a Buyer's Agent who will represent you rather than simply write the contract. Explain to him/her the situation first.

No Realtor should prevent the sale of a property by putting his/her own best interests ahead of his client's, in this case, the seller's.

To my eye, this may not be an ethical violation, but it certainly is a transgression.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 5, 2007
Each state is going to have different laws regarding this. In Wisconsin we have procuring cause. Meaning the agent that helps a buyer locate the property is the one who earned the commission. I would suggest you consult an attorney or better yet, talk with the Agent who should you the home. Explain why you would not want to write an offer with them, see what they say. I have started to write a series of blog pasts about the importance of Buyer Agency. I hope you are not thinking about contacting the listing agent, in hopes of a better deal. It hardly ever works out that way.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 5, 2007
Do we have to use our listing agent to look at other properties with other agents?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 23, 2015
I saw this message posted at a bank while waiting in line to do a transaction: "Pick up the phone and verify the information to avoid getting into a scam."

Rushing into a decision could result in some sort of dishonesty to either one or more parties. It would be wise to make a phone call or two and know exactly what you are getting into before taking further action.

Do you believe these two things? " Honesty is the best policy." " Do unto others as you want to be done by."
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 17, 2014
I saw this message posted at a bank while waiting in line to do a transaction: "Pick up the phone and verify the information to avoid getting into a scam."

Rushing into a decision could result in some sort of dishonesty to either one or more parties. It would be wise to make a phone call or two and know exactly what you are getting into before taking further action.

Do you believe these two things? " Honesty is the best policy." " Do unto others as you want to be done by."
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 17, 2014
if you didn't sign a buyers agreement you can buy anything thru anyone
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 8, 2014
What does the contract you signed with her say?
Web Reference: http://www.golftobeach.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 26, 2011
Sue, Buying and selling ahouse is emotional for buyers and sellers! Realtors can't always be available when you want them to be just as you can't always be available for others. If the agent has found you the house you want to make an offer on...she has done her job!

The other agents have given you excellent advice and some of it may differ in each state. You should really pay attention to Ruth(less). She is in your situation and she has had experience both buying and selling property. Agents know that they have to treat buyers and sellers not only with respect, they have to have there best interest at heart. Most agents do there job well and have the best intentions. You may not like your agent's personality and that's OK but not a reason to get rid of her. THIS IS A BUSINESS TRANSACTION!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 26, 2011
Hi ! Not true ,Unless you signed a buyer agency agreement ,with that agent you are free to walk . Good Luck !Dan Morrison(609)685-8353
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 26, 2011
Lynn, since this question is 3 1/2 years old my guess would be that Sue has moved on by now.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 12, 2011
Hi Sue:

Please give me a call to discuss you circumstance in detail. Do you have a buyer's agency agreement with this Realtor? There are other questions I would like to ask you. It does boil down to the procuring cause for the sale. You deserve to have a Realtor who you have confidence in. Buying a home is a big decision and is the single largest investment for most people. P.S. I live in Marlton and have been a resident for 11 years.

Long & Foster R.E., Inc.
856-642-8700 X8750
Cell: 856-304-6423
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 12, 2011
To me, this seems to be an internal industry problem for those of you who are agents and/or brokers. I am a self-employed attorney. I provide time-consuming services for clients every day. I realize that my time is valuable and therefore I always do an initial consultation. The potential client and I BOTH take a day or two to decide whether or not we want to go forward. If the answer is yes, then nothing else happens until, and only until, we have a retainer agreement signed and the retainer is paid--up front. It just seems like a simple business principle to me. Sure, some potential client will walk away. But, those were probably the clients with commitment issues anyhow.

Furthermore, I believe that if an agent goes out with a client 2xs. And that agent is not performing to the clients satisfaction, why should he/she be entitled to the entire/full amount of the commission? I would figure out how much time was spent showing me properties and then offer to pay the agent a reasonable hourly wage and move on! Why should I be "ethically" required to be "loyal" to a service provider when I am not satisfied with her services? That just doesn't make sense.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 1, 2010
Sue, what matters here is your personal integrity. If the realtor in question found you the home you like, and then showed it to you, you should complete the transaction with that realtor. Cut and dried.

Web Reference: http://www.ratewindow.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 5, 2010
Sue, Agents have to be able to work with many people and juggle schedules to be accessible. ..and successful. Sometimes that is difficult. Does the agent give an excuse every time you want to get together? Just because she is busy when you want to get together doesn't mean that she isn't a good agent or that she doesn't want to help you. Since she did find the house you want she should be the one to write the offer (procuring cause). If there is a personality conflict or you don't feel she is properly representing you, you should call her broker and explain the situation. The broker will most likely be understanding and suggest you work with another agent in his firm.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 5, 2010
I agree with Paul. Lawyers don't give their time away for free. If you come to their office, they charge a consultation fee and if they do any work for you, they charge you a fee, whether they win the case or lose the case, the fact that you agreed to pay a fee is well understood up front. You are using a professional's time and expertise. Just like there are good lawyers and bad lawyers, the same is true of the Real Estate Sales professionals as well...some have excellent people skills, some have less skills, some are very knowledeable in commercial vs residential real estate and some know the marketplace very well in a specific area, and some are well intentioned, but are not as professional as they should be. Basically, like any service oriented profession, you have excellent, good and average persons working in that profession. However, the same is true of plumbers, lawyers, and doctors. They are not all at the same level and at the same experience level and all worth a flat rate. The fact of the matter, is that heart surgeon costs more than a referring MD, because he is a specialist. A trial lawyer specializing in Intellectual Property contracts costs more than a lawyer that handles parking tickets...but in Real Estate, it's not as specialized. However, stealing an agent's time and effort and then writing the contract with somebody else is not the right thing, in a nutshell and so, my advice is simple:

a) Call the agent's broker and ask for a different agent, if you are not comfortable with the one you have. She or He will get referral fee,and no hurt feelings.
b) Decide if you are showing some loyalty to that agent, or none. Was the agent bad and not professional, or was the agent busy but did indeed get back to you? Did the agent end the communication chain with you?

In the end,,unless real estate professionals start charging a flat fee for showing a certain amount of properties, that declares that their time is indeed worth something, and not to be wasted, people will treat us with no real loyalty and no real respect. So in the end, the answer is not a firm clear line to follow.

But a sense of ethics is worth it if it means something to you and if you are asking, it means you are an honorouable person and want to do the right thing. So in the end, write the contract with the agent that showed you the house. There is a whole lot of negotion that takes place from that point forward, between the selling agent and the listing agent, and it's the negotiation skills that matter the most,....and if you show good will, you will be shown good will in return....and that is how it should work. Good luck and enjoy owning your own home.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 14, 2008
This depends I think. This is a question that is always a battle. You can see that by looking at how many responses your getting. I think (my opinion) no you do not have to buy that house with that agent. You should if she is a good agent. The argument is there is a thing called procurring cause. The agent was the reason you saw the house so in return she should be your agent. This may be. However, there is a easy way out I think. It is as easy as saying you may be the procurring cause, but I do not think you are working in my best interest. Both of these are hard to prove. So than I think it would come down to who wrote the contract. Who had agency first. I will tell you rather I am right or wrong, I think the best decision would be to call the agents broker and tell them that you are not happy with the agent and see if you could interview some of there other agents to work with. If you dont get a response from there broker. Than the next step would be the local Realtors Association. You will get a response than.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 13, 2008
I didn't read Pete's answer because I never read stuff in all caps. It is annoying and hard to read. Alex makes good points but the issues won't be solved by ethics. This is a business. The problem will not go away till we stop giving our time away for free. That likely will not change for most till the bar to entry is raised. MOST Realtos are honest but MOST don't know what they are doing and are inexperienced. The consumer doesn't know enough to tell the difference in most cases. In more, they don't even try. They just want to get through the door into the house and don't realize the implications of doing that. In far to many cases they forfeit their right to have an advocate work for them. They either think it doesn't matter or doesn't apply to them. The real estate commission in most states will not protect the public in this regard because they are locked into (and are) the views of the big franchise companies. They are no more apt to get out of lock step than you are to get a burger at McDonalds that is 'different'. Consumers don't 'get' procuring cause http://(www.procuringcause.com) and they should not have to. It is an industry problem and will remain so until we start charging for our time.

Paul Howard, Broker/Owner
NJHomeBuyer.com Realty
Cherry Hill NJ 08002
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 13, 2008
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 5, 2008
Short Answer: yes, you have to use the agent that showed you the house, whether you signed a buyer's agency agreement document or not. Reason: the agent that is the new agent, that you put an offer via that agent, will be sued by the original agent that showed you the house for what is called "procuring cause".

Detailed answer and example:

The real answer depends on what is known as "procuring cause". Your situation is unfortunately one that is too common. Buyers have very little loyalty to their agent.

Here's an example. I had a buyer I was working with that I showed about 2 or 3 properties each and every weekend. This was an investment oriented buyer that was looking for a multi-family residential property, or a smaller scale commercial property. I got the buyer qualified via my contacts with a well respected mortgage lender. I got the buyer knowledgeable about calculating cash-on-cash math, cap rate analysis, Gross Rent Multiplier, tenant management, leases, and in general how to "size up" a deal whether it will cash flow or not. The bottom line, is that after she backed out of 2 written offers with me, because of cold feet, I asked her if being a landlord was right for her. She said it was, and had reservations about the properties, not with working with me. She thanked me repeatedly for giving a lot of knowledge and time to her. One week later, she had an accepted offer on another property, working directly with the listing agent. Very luckily, it was NOT one of the properties I showed her, because I could have sued based on "procurring cause". I kept a notebook of all the properties I showed her. She took my time, and expertise and knowledge and I didn't get paid one penny. Remember, Realtors are not paid by the hour, but only if the make a successful sale.

I ran comparable analysis for this buyer. I did cash flow calculations for her. I spent time and gas driving around showing her properties. We discussed the various merits of each property, location and a lot of knowledge and information about investing was passed along to this buyer. I helped her get attractive terms and financing via my good relationships with several different loan officers at banks. In the end, I showed her a lot of properties, a lot of knowledge transfer and I wound up not making a single penny.

To answer your question: do you like to come to your job, have your boss give you an assignment, and you dilligently work for that assignment week after week, day-after-day, show up for work, and finally, comes time for a paycheck. Your boss shakes your hand, and says, you did an excellent job, thank you. You taught me a lot. Thank you. But here's your replacement that is earning your paycheck this week. Would you feel good about that?

Realtors are people. They are busy and make a living by working with many clients simultaneously. If you felt you were not getting adequate attention, you should have made a point of it, or you should have made a phone call to that agent's broker and worst case, the broker would have assigned another agent to work with you, from the same office, and paid a referral fee to your initial agent if any sale was made.

The buyer's agency agreement even if not signed is not the issue. If you buy a property that this agent showed you, via another agent, you are stealing this agent's time and paycheck. This agent will exercise procuring cause against the agent in the other office. This is un-ethical and I'm sure you already know that.

How would you like to have your time and your paycheck stolen? Would you like it if your boss did to you what I described above? Do you like to work for free?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 4, 2008
Hello Sue,

In the state of Texas if you have a buyers representation with the showing agent, you may want to review it because it usually states that they will first attempt to get their commissions from the seller but if the seller does not pay, you may have to pay the commissions.

If you do not have a buyers representation agreement with the showing agent, then shame on the showing agent, because they are not legally entitled to get paid.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 3, 2008
Most buyers are not fully aware if the agent they are speaking to is the listing agent, who works for the seller, not for them, or the buyer's agent. In the event you are working with the buyer's agent, that showed you the house, and you did not sign a buyer's agency agreement with them, you not legally bound to use that agent. However, I've had this happen to be unknowingly. I've shown a prospect a house that was shown to her by another agent from another brokerage house. She used that agent's time and expertise and he actually showed her 25 other properties, and the one I was showing her was one of that list. After he spent alot of time and effort educating her of local market conditions, and discussing various features or benefits of one property vs another, he felt frustrated that this buyer was a "shopper" and not a real buyer. Their relationship did not end smoothly because she felt his time was free and can be used at will. I uknowingly showed this buyer a house that was shown to her by this other gentlemen and wound up writing the contract. At that point, she finally felt this was the correct one. I asked her up front if she was already working with anybody else, and she said no. Well, in the end, the other agent kept a notebook of all the properties he showed her, the dates, and MLS numbers of each property, and her specific objections to each property. Had this gone to court for "procurring cause", his detailed notes would have helped him win the case. Being a gentleman and after working with this buyer, I felt she did not show any loyalty to an agent which gave alot of his time and expertise for free, and that he deserved the sale more than I did. So I wound up calling him and having him write the contract, and we became friends and give referrals to each other willingly. So be sure you don't blame the agents too quickly. Too many buyers use up an agent's time for free, and we don't get paid by the hour, and show zero loyalty. An agent has to balance several buyers or sellers and may or may not be available instantly to return phone calls, but at the same time, like any other professional, have demands on their time that limit the instant ability to make phone calls. However, good and honest communication is the key to any relationship. However, in real estate sales, or any other sales, people have to have a sense of comfort working together, but loyalty is very important is well, and too little loyalty is shown to agents sometimes by buyers who use up an agent's time, without any commitment to either buy, or use that agent to write the contract.
Web Reference: http://www.sashagonta.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 16, 2007
some of the answers you received were just plain wrong in the legal sense; others simply redundant or off-topic. Many of the REALTORs responding are probably agents and not brokers. Brokers supervise the agents and have more education with regard to the letter of the law. Deborah Madley's answer was the absolute best, and certainly the most complete. She is a broker in NJ. I advise you to take the steps she so eloquently outlined. Please re-read my previous post as well.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 16, 2007
Contact the NJ Board of Realtors and ask to define "procuring cause." In Florida it is the agent that writes the offer, not necessarily the "showing agent." It is more of an ethical issue for you. Contact the Broker of the agent and I am sure they would assign another agent to help you or do it themselves. I cannot imagine a REALTOR that would show you property but not WANT to write up your offer. There has to be more to this scenario.
Glynn Campbell
Prudential Shimmering
Sands Realty
Panama City Beach, Florida
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 16, 2007
Sue, the best way to answer your question is click on the link below. It is to the NJ Dept of Banking and Insurance, which also oversees real estate. The link below takes you to a fill out the form. It is a complaint form, it may also serve as a question form for your specific questions.

Wishing you best of luck. Bill
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 15, 2007
If that agent is the procuring source of the real estate deal, in some states he would be able to recieve a commission. If the buyer opts for another realtor they may be on the hook for a commission. Be careful sometimes the personatlity conflict may not be enough to shield you from a potential suit. Agents who would step in at this time, I suspect would be ethically challenged .
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 15, 2007
I think the relationship is not binding since you don't have a Buyer Agent Representation Form signed by the Realtor which by the way would also bind the Brokerage. In this day and age of modern business practices, there are no imaginery implied binding contracts. I'm sorry your Realtor didn't exude more enthusiasam in making your home buying experience a good one, but don't judge the bushel by the one bad fruit. Move on to another Realtor in the same Brokerage or a different one. Speak to the broker and have them recommend a go getter. Being represented by a Realtor does bring its advantages. My latest new home negotiations brought my clients $25,000 off the list price, upgrade appliances, wooden (not faux) blinds and a full sodded backyard. So as you see, it didn't hurt my clients having representation when they picked their new home. Good luck and I hope you find your dream home!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 15, 2007
Call the NJ real estate commission and then their broker. Typically, if you have no buyer agency contract with that agent, you don't owe them a dime. After all, how would they claim their commission...they have no contract. If you have a contract, most have protection clauses that prevent a buyer from firing their agent and working a deal out with the listing agent or seller directly. Sounds like the agent is using scare tactics to make up for their incompetence.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 15, 2007
I think she would certainly be shown to be the precuring cause, regardless of your complaint. This is a complex area of law and these are complex calls which I've been involved with before - each one stands on its own merits - but it sounds like she might have a case against you for the commission or part of it, if you refuse - unless you can show that she was in some way negligent. From what you've said, it sounds as if you just don't like her too much because she's not as responsive as you'd like. And that probably won't cut it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 15, 2007
You have received a lot of good advice from a lot of people. Let me just say what you probably already know by now. It varies from state to state but your best bet is to interview other agents in your area and ask them those questions as well as you are looking for the right fit to sell your current home. I don't know New Jersey law, but in California you do not owe a agent a commission unless you are the seller and the deal goes through, or states a commission in the contract, I believe this agent told you that you owe them a commission to keep you with them. For you peace of mind interview more agents.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 15, 2007
Sue, My dear Collegue from Jersey is right and wrong at the same time. Only Brokers can be suites against a buyer as yourself, and you can only sue a Broker. The Broker is responsible for the actions of their agents. But the agent will be brought up on seperate charges if found necessary and then go before the state licinsing board.
I suggest you call the broker of that agent and talk with Him/Her and tell them how dissatisfied you are witht he service you are recieving. Also there is a question of Buyer Borkerage. DId she become your Buyer Broker through the Borkergae. Another words, she is supposed to be working for you diligemtly and honestly and as a professional. If she did not sign and you did not sign a Buyer Broker Agreement making her your Single Agent, then you can question the legality of procurring cause. I suggest you call the State Baord Of Realtors or the State Agency that handles this DIvision and ask them this exact question I asked you.
Put it this way to them.
If I a Buyer, have never signed or engaged in a Single Agnecy Representation in a Buyer Broker Agreement, am I obligated to this Brokergae and Agent in anyway shape or form? Then ask about Procurring Cause with no representation in a timely manner. Offers must be made immediately, at the time an offer is suggested by buyer and formerly filled out and presented to the Selling Broker/Agent. We here in Florida and those I know in New Jersey, New York, Arizona, Texas and so on get it done that very same day.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 15, 2007
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