Ray, Home Buyer in Los Angeles, CA

As a buyer, can I change real estate agents given my specific circumstances?

Asked by Ray, Los Angeles, CA Wed Jul 23, 2008

I have been working with a real estate agent for several weeks. A couple of weeks ago, I liked one townhouse he showed me. After going back to see the property a couple of times, I decided to put in an offer. My agent replied back the next day that the seller's agent had told him not to bother writing up the offer as it was way lower than they would consider. I have been thinking for some time that I don't have much of a good connection with my agent. He doesn't quite seem to get my needs, and has not given me the level of advice or guidance I wanted. He has done nothing wrong really; I just feel he is not the best choice of an agent for me. Given that I have no written agreement with him and no offer was actually written, am I free to change agents, and would it prevent me from putting in an actual offer (for a higher amount) on that townhouse with another agent as no offer has been written yet? Would he have a claim to the commission? I am in California.

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Hi Ray:

First, if you would, I would encourage you talk to your agent about your expectation and why you are dissatisfied with him and see if he will be able to work with you better. Sometimes a little communication goes a long way.

Specifically in your case, there is a procuring clause in CA where the agent who showed you the house is entitled to the commission if you ended up buying the house within a certain period of time. If you ended up writing a contract with another agent's help, you might want to tell your new agent about this so he/she is informed. Otherwise, he could lose commission if your current agent found out.

But, again, I would encourage you to talk to your current agent first. . You might work fabulously together afterwards.

2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 23, 2008
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Marin, CA
I am the person who posted the question originally. Here's the thing- I am considering putting in a higher offer than I originally was going to, but my agent has been practically worthless in providing me with opinions or input. I have to really dig to get questions answered that he should be the one asking me proactively. All his answers seem to be about doing the least work possible for him. After telling him I wanted to make an offer, for example, I had to be the one to ask him to provide comps to gauge a fair price. He then sends over a bunch of comp info with no analysis or explanation whatsoever. He knows I am a first time buyer and needs to be more handheld but is treating me like I should know everything I want myself. He is very vague everytime I have asked him if a property seems to be a good value or a fair price. He just defers to "you have to decide if you like to live there. That is what makes it valuable to you." I have only been with this agent for two different rounds of viewing properties which each time lasted about 2 hours. He has provided me with a total of 3 emails worth of listings to consider viewing. I was only actively working with him for 2 weeks before deciding to concentrate on the property I am considering and have not gone on any viewings of other properties since. I have had to deal directly with the seller's agent to set up multiple revisits and the seller's agent has been 10 times more helpful at explaining how the process works to me and what factors I should consider. Even when I initially told him an offer amount to make, he was going to write the offer without going over with me any contingencies I might want to add or even spend one sentence explaining how the offer process worked. I just told him, I'd like to offer XX amount, and he said, OK, I'll write and submit the offer. Basically, I feel my agent did at most 5 or 6 hours of work total (including the time spent going with me to see properties) and I really don't want to give him his 3% commission on the sale (which will come to at least $18,000 for him) when he hasn't been the least bit helpful. the problem is I really like the property. Any suggestions on what I can do? Talking to him isn't going to help as I feel I have to pull teeth to get him to answer my questions already.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 26, 2008
You are in fact free to change to another agent at your choosing. However, if the property you are buying was introduced to you by the first agent, that agent would be entitled to receive the commission. To help you understand this better--look at a scenario from a realtor perspective for a moment. If I showed a buyer a property, and the selling agent of the property were to contact that buyer and try to sell it directly, it could be done with a reduced commission for handling both sides. In order to avoid this conflict, the agent who shows the property originally is the "procuring cause" and is entitled to the buyer side of the commission. I hope this helps. Any property the first agent didn't show, however, would be eligible for another agent to receive the full commission payment.
Web Reference: http://www.MykeTriebold.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 24, 2008

As a buyer, unless you have signed a contract comitting yourself to a specific agent and company, you can change agents at any time with no penalty.

Good luck,
The "Eckler Team"
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 24, 2008
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 15, 2012
It seem to me that you're a little confused about the situation.
First thing you need to do is to make a decision about what you going to do and who you're going to do it with.
If your agent doesn't really help you and you feel like he just doing it to make his money and run away, don't do it with him.
There are thousands of real estate agents out there in your neighborhood that are hungry for work and they will do what ever it takes to work for the right buyer/seller.
Remember: The real estate agent is working for you, not you're working for him

Good Luck
Web Reference: http://homesinsale.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 23, 2009

You can always change agents! I would suggest you do it in writing, citing your reasons as you did here, copying the broker. You are the client and should find someone willing to take the time and effort to work with you.

Regarding this particular proprty; you can still change agents. As to who would get the commission, it can be a sticky situation if the first agent actually found this townhouse for you and you did not find it yourself. If you change agents, please advise the new agent of the situation as there may need to be legal recourse on the agent's part to get, or split, commission.

By all means though, do what is best for you. Please check out the new agent thoroughly though so you are not "jumping out of the frying pan into the fire."

Good Luck!

Pennie Arneson
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 10, 2008
Procuring cause is about more than introducing a client to a property and walking them through- get the representation that you want. This is not legal advice; just common sense- opinion only.


If you jump to the middle, this explanation offers some insight.
Web Reference: http://optionsrealty.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 28, 2008
Ray, I'd have to view "procuring cause" as the agent that made the purchase happen. If this agent had presented your offer, taking at least the time to put it in writing, it would make sense to worry about procuring cause. That an agent brings you through a property does NOT entitle them to fees associated with that property on an automatic basis. Find the person that you'd like to facilitate this for you, and explain to them the scenario. They'll be better able to assess any problem with the first agent, but most importantly, assist you with getting the property that you want. Good luck!
Web Reference: http://optionsrealty.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 24, 2008
Although you can certainly change agents, if you wish to put an offer on this townhouse that Agent #1 showed you, then he is the procuring cause. ie. it is only through him (Agent #1) that you went to see this property, he took you to see it, you liked it - he is your procuring cause. Because you want to continue to pursue this townhouse, I would advise that you go back to Agent #1, explain your feelings to him, tell him why you've not been happy and are seriously considering going with another agent. I'm sure he will want to make things right and in fact, it could just be a lack of communication between the 2 of you. This should certainly help things. Next step, tell him you still want him to present an offer to the listing agent. The listing agent can give all the opinions he wants but if you insist your offer is presented to the Seller, even verbally, he is obliged to do this unless he has something in writing from the Seller saying "do not accept any offers under $xxx,xxx" or words to that effect. As Sylvia stated, a new agent presenting an offer on a property where Agent #1 has been the procuring clause, is likely to to lose their commission to Agent #1, should they find out. California, like Florida, has a procuring cause clause! (Say that after a couple of drinks)!

Now... if you don't get the townhouse, you're still unhappy with Agent #1, you can and most likely should certainly move onto another agent. I would at the very least, drop a note to Agent #1, explaining that things just didnt seem to click between you, wish him luck but tell him that you'll be changing agents. At least he'll know, instead of wondering what happened to you.

Hope this helps and good luck with that townhouse!!

Angela in sunny South Florida!
Web Reference: http://www.villagrealty.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 24, 2008
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