Home Buying in San Jose>Question Details

Schultz13, Home Owner in San Jose, CA

Is it unreasonable to expect my agent to be objective?

Asked by Schultz13, San Jose, CA Wed Feb 8, 2012

I'm looking at buying a new house, and my agent keeps showing me homes that are listed by other agents within their company. Isn't this a conflict of interest or am I being naive?

Help the community by answering this question:


Easy fix: make an appointment to meet your agent in his office in front of a computer. Ask him/her to go into the local MLS and search for homes while you explain, step by step, your explicit criteria (i.e # bedrooms, baths, school district and/or town, garage, central air, etc...) See what the results are and look at the listings and pics together. Ask to make an appointment to view the homes you wish to see.

This should resolve any possible misunderstandings or give you confirmation that it may be time to move onto another agent.

I hope it works out well for everyone. Win-win outcomes are always the best! )
Web Reference: http://tammybenkwitt.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 8, 2012
I would want to know what benefit it is to your agent to only show their in house listings? The seller offers a cooperating commission to the Buyer's Broker and that Broker splits the commission with the Buyer Agent. There should be no financial benefit to your agent to restrict the properties shown to you.

Ask your agent why the homes you have seen only have their signs on it? And great advice from Tammy.

All the best to you.
Web Reference: http://www.terrivellios.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 13, 2012
Thank you Schultz13.

In my opinion Tammy Benkwitt had the best recommendation, and that is to ask to sit down with your agent at the computer and search the Multiple Listing Service together using your criteria and see what comes up.

With respect to your question about conflict of interest. Essentially if the house is listed with another agent in the same company, that is what we call dual agency, where your agent has equal fiduciary duties to both you and the seller. In my opinion that is a conflict of interest, however I also recognize that is possible that some of the homes that match your criteria will be homes listed with the same company. However it is also very unusual that there will not be houses listed with other companies that also match your criteria.

I think that Tammy has the best test and that is to sit down with your agent and search the MLS together on your agent's computer. The answer to your question will become very clear to you within a matter of minutes.

Thank you,
Charles Butterfield MBA
Real Estate Broker/REALTOR
American Realty
Cell Phone: (408)509-6218
Fax: (408)269-3597
Email Address: charlesbutterfieldbkr@yahoo.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 10, 2012
forgive me for being blunt;
I learned a long time ago that communication is a two way street:
If you are giving him clear cut parameters, and he is not showing you houses that fit those parameters, then he is screwing up.
If you haven't given him good parameters, then please do so.

Good luck and may god bless
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 8, 2012
The fact that your agent is showing you listings that are represented by the same agency where he works, is not, in an of itself, a conflict of interest. It doesn't mean he's not objective... it may just be that the listings that best suit you, are with his company.

Are there other properties that you've wanted to see, that are with other agencies that he's not showing you??
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 8, 2012
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in Evanston, IL
One thing to look at is whether they're listings in their office, or the company. There may be ten Century 21 offices in the area, so you may be seeing the same signs, but the agent would have no real relationship with the other offices.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 8, 2012
Danger, Will Robinson! Trust your instincts - it sounds like you have every reason to be suspicious. A good buyers agent won't care about who's company has the listing and want to show you the right homes that are good values for YOU.

In theory, your agent is still looking out for your interest but when every home is listed by their company ... yeah that would also make me very uneasy. I'm not shy, so I'd probably confront them and then fire them if I didn't like the answer they gave me. It's your money and you are the customer!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 8, 2012
A good agent will explain how they will help you find your ideal home. Prior to the internet, it wasn't uncommon for agents only to show you listings in their office and often you weren't the wiser. A good agent now wouldn't think of doing that. Get educated on your market - check listings online - have a talk with your agent. It might be these are the only homes that meet your requirements, but once you're more educated on the market and have a frank talk with your agent - you'll be more knowledgeable and I'm sure your agent will take that into consideration for future showings.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 26, 2012
The REALTOR that you work with should be looking out for your best interests and if you feel that he/she is not, it's time to call a time out and get it straightened out immediately. You don't want to waste your time and your REALTOR should be attempting to make the process as easy as possible for you. It's not a conflict to show properties that are listed by the REALTOR'S brokerage, but if they don't fit your criteria that's a problem. You and your REALTOR should be a team with a definite goal in mind!

Go out and make it happen!

Charles Coachman
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 25, 2012

I'm not sure if it's a conflict of interest or not....but if those homes fit your criteria, then often you are in a better position to have your offer accepted if your agent does personally know the other agent. That said...what it sounds like is that these are not the homes that interest you?

I would suggest you have an honest conversation with your agent and if necessary....find a new one who is more responsive to your criteria. You might be wasting your time.

Good luck....

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 25, 2012
It depends. The most direct info about a listing property is the best info. Perhaps the agent knows more about these listings through inhouse agents and is saving time not showing other listings that are not part of your search parameters. The buyer should look at everything that is considered a potential home. If they are inhouse or out of house. As long as your agent is not "directing you" to inhouse listings and looking for the homes in your search criteria is all that matters. Make sure you are seeing what the agent is not showing you to be certain. All listings are online.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 25, 2012
You haven't said that your agent is refusing to show you homes listed by other Brokers, or is ONLY showing you homes listed by his Broker so it is difficult to say whether or not your agent is violating The Code of Ethics. Find a listing on Realtor.com or Trulia that is listed by another Broker and ask to see it. Then you will have your answer. If you can't get your agent to show it to you, then by all means change agents. I doubt that this will be the case. In my market, my Broker dominates the area and it would be very easy to show homes that were mostly listed by my Broker. Perhaps this is the case and it's just a coincidence that your agent's Broker represents the Sellers who have homes that fit your specifications.

Best of luck,
Gwen Janicki
Prudential Fox & Roach
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 25, 2012
You and your agent should be a team...you tell your agent what you want and Your Agent will find it for you!
Web Reference: http://www.ginnylee.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 25, 2012
Your agent should show you new houses. They should show you what you ask for. Your are the client and the agent is there to serve your needs.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 24, 2012
A good agent should show you homes that meet your search criteria regardless of the listing broker. If your agent isn't working for YOU, find someone that will. Good luck in your search. It's a great time to buy a house!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 23, 2012
It seems like you'd have to hire another agent if he or she is showing you only their company listings. A good idea is to pick an independent broker and your problem will fly away.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 23, 2012
Do the houses meet your criteria? Then I'd say it's just a coincidence. But if not, I'd say it's a potential conflict of interest. Who's picking the houses: you, or them? That's the key to the answer.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 23, 2012
Mr. Schultz,
Each state has laws that may vary, but if you are working with a Realtor they are obligated to “The Code of Ethics.” They are obligated to show you all the choices for your search criteria. So yes that would be a conflict of interest. Make sure your agent is working for you, and not representing the seller. If you are a customer this may not apply. Contact your local Board of Realtors if you want to file a complaint or get more clarification.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 23, 2012
Hi Schultz,
It is very important that you do your own preliminary searching. Some agents will only show their listings, then they may only show listings that pay the full commission. So you may never see a listing that the seller has made a deal to pay a lower commission.

I know this by personal experience before I was an agent. We were looking to buy a home and I realized my agent did not take us to specific areas I would have been very happy to see. Additionally he only took us to see homes at the top of our price.

You should have an idea of where you would like to move and have a general idea of what is on the market.

You may also consider interviewing a few more agents and asking them about their process of showing listings that have reduced commissions. I was shocked to find out when I first got my license that some realtors would pull their listings by your criteria then pull by full commission. Their explanation is they can only take you to see so many homes in a day so that is how they do it.... This is my experience and of course not with every agent.

It is important to ask so you will feel comfortable with your representation. Agents make money not just from showing you homes but from negotiating the best deals from what you will pay for your home as well as repairs credits etc.

Best of Luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 23, 2012
Are the houses meeting your criteria? It would not be unreasonable for the agent to try to promote the company listings first if it has the type of houses you are looking for, provided the agent is also being clear about the state of dual agency or designated agency that exists when showing company listings. However, if the agent is ignoring your criteria then I think you have a problem. As stated in another response, if the agent participates in the local MLS then there should be co-operation among brokers, and there shouldn't be a problem with showing other agent's listings. Doing a search of your own and then asking the agent to show you some specific properties is a good idea, as well as pointing out to the agent that you want to opportunity to look at the broadest range of listings, not just those of the company.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 22, 2012
Every area is different. That being said, if your area is part of the multiple listing service and brokers cooperate with one another. I would rethink your your working relationship with this agent. You deserve to work with an agent who is looking out for your best interest. I would ask friends and family for a referral. Best of luck on your home search.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 21, 2012
I personally think it's odd. I would confront them and explain that this is your observation. Ask them to show you other listings that fit your criteria. If they don't then you are going to have to rethink working with them. That's just my opinion.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 20, 2012
Is your agent refusing to show you listings with other agents? That would be a problem! Are you looking at the mls for houses you want to see? If not take a look, my clients often find houses that they are interested in seeing and let me know. Buyers need to do their homework for their own protection, there are things we as Realtors can not talk about for legal reason, the schools, crime rate etc.

You need to "work with" your agent and feel free to ask her/him why you are only being shown houses within that brokerage and that you would like to expand the search, check out neighborhoods and make suggestions.

You should never rely completely on any one person when it comes to your choices in life
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 20, 2012
I would think that you would want your agent to show you as many proporties available until you find the one that is right for you weather it's in their office or another. By doing so you will have a greater understanding of the market and so that when you do find the house that is right for you there won't be any hesitation when it comes time to write the offer
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 20, 2012
Maybe take a little time and go through Realtor.com and find some houses that are of interest to you that aren't listed through you agents company. Ask your agent to see those houses and explain that you would like to look at all homes that fit your criteria and could you please see some of the homes that you have selected. Then explain that you are feeling like you are only seeing company listings and wanted to know what else is out there.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 20, 2012
No, an agent can show you any home within that state .An agent may have better knowledge of a house that is in office.They may be better able to nogiotiate the sale if the house is in office.The agent may have more knowlede of what the seller will or will not do in repairs or how recently any work was done to the house.There are many advantages to selling or buying a house you are familiar with.Trust your agent to do what is right for you
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 20, 2012
The most important thing is to speak with your agent and explain to him what your needs are and that you like to view homes in the area that are also listed by other companies. If you try that and that does not work you may need to make a decision. As a client you have the right to hire and fire your agent if you feel that he does not look for your best interest.
Let me know what you think,
Web Reference: http://www.pazbreal.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 19, 2012
Sit down with your agent and explain what your needs are and what you expect. Let the agent know you want to see listings from all offices on the Multiple Listing Service. It's all about communication. If after your communication meeting it still does not happen find another agent.

All the best,
Gary Geer

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 18, 2012
Hello Schultz,

Your agent should cater to you. Please make sure you have been very clear on what type of property you desire. If your agent continues not to show you what you want, be firm and express your dissatisfaction.

Showing you listings from other agent in their office is not a conflict of interest,it actually can lead to a smoother escrow. If the agents know each other they will work better together. Being in the same office makes communications much easier.

Best of luck to you,

Kawain Payne, Realtor
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 18, 2012
I don't believe it is a conflict of interest it just sounds like its not in your best interest. Ask your agent to show you all the listings that meet your criteria or find another agent!
Web Reference: http://www.garylisa.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 18, 2012
It's not necessarily a conflict of interest.

The question really is whether you're being shown homes that meet your stated criteria. You SHOULD be shown properties that best meet those criteria, whether or not they're listed by other agents within the company.

Recognize that maybe the properties you're being shown are the best matches. Mack raises a good point: A lot of real estate offices are just franchises of a big parent company. So with--in his example--Century 12, there's really no connection or conflict among separate brokerages.

Another example: I'm with one of the largest companies in Northern Virginia (Long & Foster). It wouldn't be unusual for one L&F agent to pull up a lot of potential listings by other L&F agents--not because of self-interest but because so many of the homes are listed by L&F.

Beyond that, consider the agent's motivation. Yes, if the listing is with the same brokerage there may be a slight commission bonus. But the agent's real motivation is to sell you a house. Any house. For example (just making these numbers up, and all commissions are negotiable), if a buyer's agent is going to make 1.5%-2.0% on the sale of a house, which is better: (1) risk that commission on the possibility of a minor override by selling another property listed by the same company, or (2) focus on that full commission? Most agents would rather make the sale and collect the commission, regardless of the listing brokerage, rather than limit you to in-house listings and perhaps have you not buy at all.

As the others advise, talk to your agent about your concern. And perhaps get more involved in the selection process. Schedule a time that you and your agent can sit down at his/her computer and search through the listings together. Your agent should be glad to do that. And you can see just what's available that matches your criteria.

Hope that helps.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 18, 2012
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Burke, VA
Home buying Is an Art as I put it The agent MUST listen to his clients needs and show first exactly what the client is asking for and Then show all other options the client may want to consider .
Let the client make the final decision.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 18, 2012
DO NOT be afraid to put your agent in place. They are their to work for you, I would rather my clients/customers tell me what they want than feel like they have "tip-toe" around my feelings. I found this article I thought you would like. Let me know what you think of it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 18, 2012
If that agency is the dominant listing business in your area, it may just be circumstance. If your agent is holding back showing you properties that would be of interest, because they are listed by another agency, you should have a strong conversation with them about that practice. It is keeping the interests of the agency ahead of its clients, and that is not serving you well. The best markets for buyers and sellers are transparent, and openly co-broke listings with each other.
Web Reference: http://www.comitini.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 17, 2012
You do need to consider the circumstances as discussed below, but the bottom line is that you need to know about all properties available to you without question.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 17, 2012
Your agent should be showing you what YOU WANT TO SEE, no matter who the listing agent is. I would speak with your agent and express your concerns!!

Your agent has the ability to show you any home that fits you needs within the MLS.

You might consider doing your own research online and coming up with the list of houses that you want to see yourself.

Best of luck to you!

Brooke Hengst
Your Castle Real Estate
p: (720) 988-5952
Web Reference: http://www.brookehengst.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 17, 2012
Ask your agent to show you all homes available in your price range and location which you like.
Web Reference: http://www.homenet123.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 16, 2012
Well, we do owe it to our sellers if they are homes that fit your needs to show first but I would think if there are other homes listed by other companies, your agent would show those also. Just ask he/she what about other companys. Maybe for what you are looking for, it happens to be out of their company. Tell them you would like to see other company's listings if there are any.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 16, 2012
I agree that this is a conversation you need to address with your agent. You will want to consider how much of your local market is currently listed by your agent's firm certainly, but your agent should be showing you all active options that fit your search criteria and finding the best fit for YOU regardless of the listing agency.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 15, 2012
You need to have this discussion with your agent. I can't as an agent fix a problem if I don't know there is one. Be honest and tell them how you feel. As an agent I would show my client any home that fits their criteria no matter who has it listed.

Good Luck,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 15, 2012
Have you discussed this with the agent? You must speak up. He/she may be showing you homes that perfectly fit your specified criteria in what you are looking for but it does seem a little suspicious that they are all from their own agency. Do a search on Trulia and see what homes you come up with. Then give your agent the list of homes you have selected and wish to see. If you have already selected a neighborhood you prefer to live in, drive around and see what other homes are listed by other agencies. Good Luck!
Joanne Bernardini
Sales Associate
Keller Williams Realty
Ocean City, NJ 08226
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 15, 2012
As a buyer, you want an agent that understands your needs. Let the agent know what you expect of him or her and what you hope to accomplish.

It is not unusual for an agent to first look within his or her firm to find out if there's anything available that suits your needs.But if you have any concerns on that, just let the agent know why you are concerned about it and let him or her address your concerns.

Is there a conflic of interest? Yes, there is potentially. Even though two separate salespersons may represent the buyer and seller respectively, they both work under the same broker who now represents both buyer and seller. But it is legal in California to be a dual agent. It has been so since way back. An agent that represents both buyer and seller acts in the capacity of a fiduciary to both. A buyer wants to get the best home at the lowest price possible and a seller on the other hand wants the highest price for his home.

Unlike a listing agent, a buyer's agent has no binding contract with the buyer. So if you are not happy with your agent, you are not bound by any contract to stay with him or her. The only exception is when you've already opened an escrow with this agent and he or she now stands to receive a commission from her efforts at which point it may be too late to terminate his or her services and go with another agent. Just something to keep in mind of.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 14, 2012
You are being perfectly reasonable. Your agent should be objective. All agents have a fiduciary duty to do what is in the best interest of the customer, not themselves or their company.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 14, 2012
Hi, If these homes are homes that meets your criteria then why wouldn't it be ok? If they are not showing you homes listed by other companies that meet your needs, then that's an issue. They should show you everything that meets your criteria and price range.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 13, 2012
Buying new homes does not need an agent. Agents normally sell used homes.
It could be a number of reasons. Do you know how to search yourself asking your agents to show
them to you?
Web Reference: http://sam.shueh.net/
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 12, 2012
Hi Shultz

It is not unreasonable. You need to sit down and have a conversation with your agent. Showing the office listings may not be a conflict of interest, however sometimes some brokers pay a premium to agents who show and sell office listings. Satisfy yourself as to what is going on and act accordingly.

Fran and Mark Redding
Prudential Fox & Roach, Realtors
1010 Stony Hhill Road
Yardley, PA 19067
215-321-3307 Direct
215-208-7169 Cell
Web Reference: http://www.franandmark.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 12, 2012
Hello Schultz,
That is a good suggestion to sit down with your agent and pull up some homes from the MLS.

But before that ... If the agent isn't sharp enough to realize that they have only shown homes with the office's signs in the yard, then they might not deserve your business. I never reflexively recommend hiring a different agent. I give the other agent the benefit of the doubt. (It wouldn't affect me either way because I live and work in Colorado.) But, I'll make an exception in this case. If you don't believe you are working with a professional, there are plenty of other agents in San Jose. Professional to buyer: Maybe you should work with a different agent.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 12, 2012
No it is not unreasonable. Your agent should be showing you the houses YOU want to look at. I would do an internet search of your own and find properties you are interested in and then ask her/him to show you those. If you feel she/he is not taking care of your needs, then I would suggest you find a new agent, preferably a Buyers Agent. Buyers Agents are there to help you, the buyer, and typically will show you multiple houses by multiple listing agencies and they can also search for sale by owner homes that are not found on the mls. I wish you the best of luck in finding your new home.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 8, 2012
It's unreasonable to expect any agent to be objective in the sense that we all have our own personal biases as human beings, no matter how professional we are.

However, in your situation, you may just have a poor quality agent. Regardless of whether the listings are in-house or not, a good real estate agent will find you something that fits you best. If you don't feel the houses your agent is showing you is a good use of your time, find one who will.
Web Reference: http://www.archershomes.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 8, 2012
I think you're on to something. This is one of the reasons why Realtors get such a bad wrap. While only showing your company listings is probably an ethics violation with the MLS, it's done. But are you sure it's only with the same company (specific location) or broader company. Each location is typically independently owned.

Don't rule our your suspicions. Many agents will never show FSBO listings or those of "discount" brokerages as they may be worried about the transaction being more difficult.

But I agree with you, the agent should be more open and I would encourage you to do more of the research yourself online. Use a site like Trulia or Redfin and run your own search. Look at the pictures, the home details, drive by the houses (they almost all have addresses) and formulate your own opinion. Then let your agent know which ones you'd like to see inside.

So if I understand your question properly, I think it's time to ask her directly or start looking for a new agent.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 8, 2012
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