Question Details

Brandy, Both Buyer and Seller in Florida

Is a listing agent required to show a buyer the listed property?

Asked by Brandy, Florida Thu Jul 26, 2007

The buyer called the listing agent and the listing agent refused to show the property. The buyer had an agent who was on vacation. Is the listing agent obligated to show it on behalf of the seller?

Help the community by answering this question:


Under normal circumstances I would consider it my obligation to show my listing to a potential buyer. However, there are potential issues here that would make me wary of showing the listing.

1. Redfin and other discounters who offer a "rebate" to buyers who "do their own legwork" try to sucker the LA into showing the property. This SHOULD be the job of the buyers agent, but the "rebate" that these companies are offering for "doing their own work" are really a scam that just pushes more work onto the listing agent. Why should I do the job of the buyers agent so the buyer can (in effect) receive a kickback on the commission that my sellers are forking out? Not happening.

2. Sometimes buyers think they can "cut a deal" by dealing directly with the listing agent and squeezing the commission. Meanwhile, a buyer's agent has been showing them home after home. Buyers like this are abusing another agent by robbing them of their most important commodity - their time. An agent's time is money and if a buyer has no intention of working with that agent through the closing, they are undermining that agent's ability to make a living by taking up their time. This can also lead to issues of procurement later on. I'm not going near that.

Note: In either of the above cases, I feel that I would be sparing my clients a miserable negotiation. Anyone who abuses agents in that way just to get a little more jingle in their pockets is probably a person my clients DON'T want to negotiate their largest investment with.

3. A good agent has someone standing in for them when they are away. People don't stop looking for homes just because an agent is on vacation!

If the buyer is willing to give me the name and number of their agent and understands that I will be working through that agent and that agent is willing to do their side of the legwork, then I will happily show the home. 99% of the time, I would show the home - with a smile on my face - because my job is to sell the home.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 26, 2007
This is an interesting dilemma that we sometimes run into. There is definitely a fine line here, because the seller wants to sell the home, as does the listing agent. There are some interesting issues involved in this.

The seller pays the listing agent to market and sell the home. Part of marketing the home is for the listing agent to split the commission to buyers agents so they will show the home, and if the buyer likes the home, to give the buyer a CMA, to negotiate the contract, to coordinate inspections, and server the buyer to closing and beyond.

First an example of what we sometimes go through. I am a Realtor in Tampa Florida, but the ideas are the same everywhere. I once had an agent call me and tell me he was away for a few days but he had a client that wanted to see my listing, and asked if I could do him a favor and show it. I quickly said yes. The listing is a 50 minutes drive for me. I waited for his clients and showed them the home, which took about a half hour. Total time spent with driving, opening the home and getting everything ready, waiting for them, showing the home, closing up, and driving back to the office, almost three hours. This is time that I spent doing the buyers agent work as a favor to him.

The next day I got a call from the other agent, and he said I hate to ask you this but my clients want to show some family members the home. He said they are very interested in the home. I went out and did the same thing this day.

A couple of days later I got another call saying his clients wanted to show the wifes family this time. I had out of state buyers that I was showing homes to for the next four days, so I said I was unable to. Well now I had an angry family, the agent was mad, even though I had been doing a favor for him. He threatened that my sellers would not be happy if they found out that I was ruining their chance for a sale, which meant to me that he was probably going to make sure my sellers knew. I ended up having to pay another agent to show them the home.

I ended up getting a very low offer and it ended up with no sale. Now in Florida if you are a licensed agent in Florida, you can sell homes anywhere in Florida. I found out the other agent was not away. He actually had an Internet business. He was nowhere near Tampa, and used the away ploy just to get me to show the homes. My guess is I was going to have to meet the home inspectors, well, septic, termite inspectors and many others.

Now I ended up spending many hours showing the home to his buyers, spent money on gas, and also $250 to an agent in my office to show the home for me. An interesting point is that this was a 6% listing and to help sell the home I was offering out 4% to the buyers agent, with only 2% to myself. So if this deal had gone through the other agent would have made 2% more than me, and all he would have done is to make a few phone calls and to write up a contract. I would have done 99% of the work and yet made so much less.

So do I still show homes to other agents buyers? Yes, if I know and trust the other agent. If I do not know them I look up their license to see if they are Tampa Realtors. If not then I tell them I will be glad to show the homes to their buyer, however I tell them I will pay them a referral so they get paid for sending me a buyer, and I get paid for the work I do.

There is also a legal concern when I start doing the buyers agent job. What if the buyers had bought the home, then after closing they find something they do not like. They decide to go to court, and their agent says he only wrote the contract. I then testify that I showed the home several times, met the appraiser, home inspectors, etc. Even though I did not technically represent the buyer, who would the court blame if they feel they were misrepresented, the agent who did nothing and said nothing, but collected a big check, or the agent that did the work and who ended up being the agent they listened to about the home?

My final thought is that whether I represent a seller or buyer, if I go on vacation I get another agent to cover for me while I am gone. If they end up selling one of my listings or help one of my buyers get a home, then they get the commission and pay me a referral fee.

Ultimately, in your case the buyers agent was either the same as in my case, or not running their business properly, as if they were they would have coverage while on vacation. There is a reason that generally half of the commission goes to the listing agent and half to the buyers agent. Each must fulfill their responsibility. If they are not responsible, they should get out of the business.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 27, 2007
Interesting responses on this one that I might not have considered. I think I would feel bound to show the property. I might have to get into a bit of a dustup with the other agent about procuring cause and whether I would pay that agent a cobroke should I negotiate a deal (most likely would go before the board), but I won't let that interfere with getting the property sold. Jim's arguments notwithstanding (sign callers are not always prequalified or otherwise guaranteed to be honest and trustworthy ... but we show them our listings), I think the reason most agents would refuse to show the house is because it torques them that the buyers agent will get paid without even having done the legwork. And yes, that really sucks. But I say show the home, and if you are fortunate enough to produce a sale, argue the matter of commission separately.
Web Reference:
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 26, 2007
Many reasons why the answer could and should be no. It depends on the conversation. and on the buyer.
Is the buyer qualified by a lender to buy the house? Is the vacationing agent back pretty soon anyway? Is the buyer just a thief looking to case the house? Is the buyer just looking to stir up trouble, or is she beligerent? There are a few devious buyers out there, I'll give you a really horrible example of why that listing agent may ave made the right decision to refuse the buyer. Lets say the buyer did not disclose at first that they had their own agent, then they start trying to negotiate a price break on the listing agent since he'll get to double end the deal. Then it slips out that the buyer knows the property real well because their procuring cause agent has shown it to them several times already. Oh yeah and the other agent has already gotten this buyer loan qualified.- and the buyer is figuring out a way to cheat her own agent out of a commission. The listing agent realizes he is speaking with a sneaky snake of a dirt bag cheating lying buyer. The listing agent does not want to deal with cheats and liars as clients, or even as customers for his principal. He fires clients who are suspected of lying cheating. It may not be in the sellers fiduciary interest to enter into a contract with a dishonest person... even if the offer appears to be a good offer otherwise. If the buyer insists on seeing the house and writing an offer the agent would owe his seller the disclosure that the other party approached him with a plan to cheat her own agent. --
Or the buyer could be an innocent naif who doesnt understand nothing about what it is real estate agents do or how they are paid.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 26, 2007
Jim Walker, Real Estate Pro in Carmichael, CA
Yes, the agent is required to show the property to any interested buyer, as the seller is their client and refusing to show the property is not working in their client’s best interest. If the buyer has a buyer agency agreement with another agent, and they chose to see that property without them, then they are choosing to violate the terms of their own agreement and the agent on the seller’s side has nothing to do with it. If the agent had pursued the buyer, knowing there is such an agreement, (which is not the case), than they would be interfering with a contractual agreement. In the end, the buyer agent should have arranged for coverage while they were away
Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 26, 2007
The truth is that if the buyer's agent was on vacation, that agent has the fiduiciary responsibility to make arrangements for another Realtor in the office to take care of his business while on vacation. It is an undue burden to BLAME the LISTING AGENT. It is well known that some Realtors are simply sending their clients out, not "doing their job", and expect to be paid regardless of what they do.

If I were the buyer's agent I would have a) made alternative arrangements for care for my clients, and b) if there had been a buyer that wanted to see the property I would have educated my buyer as to the ettiquete in Real Estate. If you want to see a property, call me. If I am not available, I'll make arrangements so you can see proprety that you want to see. If there is a problem with the coverage, then I would either call ANOTHER Realtor in my office, or call the Listing Agent and ask, politely, for his/her assistance.

In my opinion Listing Agents have enough to do and although I have rarely found Listing Agents inflexible., the bottom line is that the buyer is my client and it's my responsibility.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 26, 2007
Keith Sorem, Real Estate Pro in Glendale, CA
The BUYERS AGENT should have made arrangements with their CLIENTS to have a co-worker within their company agree to show property for him/her while on vacation and as a professional courtesy to the BUYERS they are representing.Things in my Real Estate world don't stop when I decide to take a few days off,so I have to be a little more responsible to my clients as well.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 26, 2007
No. The listing agent is not obligated to show the property. Although - he is very close to violating his fiduciary duty to his seller. There is understandable annoyance from the listing agent that he will put forth effort to show the property and the buyer's agent will benefit from it while on vacation. AND tough! It is the listing agent's duty to get the property sold - so we all do things that we maybe shouldn't do - but that's a good agent for you - one who won't complain about the little details and focus on the big picture.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 26, 2007
Mario Pinedo,…, Real Estate Pro in Beverly Hills, CA
To my knowledge the listing agent has no legal obligation to show a property he/she has listed.

Any listing agent who DOES NOT show a property he/she has listed is FOOLISH !

What did you tell the seller when you listed the property ? I'LL SELL IT FOR YOU ! NO CAVEATS, I'LL GET IT SOLD .

As a lister, I will be glad to show the property any time. Call me foolish when the buyer already has an agent, but my job is to get the property sold. Plan and simple.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 26, 2007
The listing agent is not required to show the property. Having said that, this was a poor choice made by the listing agent who should have the seller's goal in mind which is to expose the house to as many buyers as possible.
C. Lowenberg; ERA Shields Real Estate
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 26, 2007
We agree- see below. I have learned that the victim can be the seller as well as the buyer. Two months after we moved in I was able to locate the seller. She told me the house was listed for three months and no offers were made. She advised me her listing agent told her to NEVER talk to the buyer! I convinced her that in the USA we have freedom of speech. The only offer she got was from me. I was able to quickly negotiate the price from Asking at $325k to my offer at $199k which was promptly accepted by seller. Today the Zillow Zindex show the house worth $491k! Not bad for 13 months! The seller was recently divorced and just wanted the house sold. Thanks to her listing agent we got our dream home and had plenty of cash left over. We called up the listing agent and bought her a nice dinner and champagne for our success. Forget buyers agents in a tough market. The listing agents control what "offers" are shown to the seller. All they want is the commission at any price.
Flag Thu Dec 19, 2013
Interesting! I am a buyer with a large earnest deposit and have been Pre-approved through five lenders using a conventional fixed 15 year mortgage. I am not interested in low balling price and do not want to have any contingencies to slow things down.

I am using a buyers agent and have attempted to look at over twenty local homes. the problem is that the listing agents refuse to reply by telephone, FAX, letter or email to my Buyers agent. At first I thought it was my Buyers agent who was the problem. I was wrong. I have hired and fired five buyers agents because not one of the listing agents of any house we wanted to learn about received any responses from the listing agent. So we asked our last agent why this is and he explained that the listing agent wanted "both sides" of the commission. So we went directly to a listing agent and bought a house at 32% BELOW asking. The listing agent got "both sides" and we got our home at a good price. We closed in three weeks.
Flag Thu Dec 19, 2013
Search Advice
Ask our community a question
Email me when…

Learn more

Copyright © 2015 Trulia, Inc. All rights reserved.   |  
Have a question? Visit our Help Center to find the answer