Question Details

Paprica, Home Buyer in Brooklyn, NY

Buyer/ Agent Real Estate Etiquette

Asked by Paprica, Brooklyn, NY Wed Sep 12, 2007

I have a real Estate agent, but I often like to search for properties on my own, via internet. Is it o.k. for me to inquire about properties directly, or am I supposed to always "use my agent". Sometimes it's just more convenient to go to an open house while passing by a neighborhood, or just finding out the specific area, where a property is located by calling the list agent. I feel that I can just save time that way considering that I have a very specif taste on the property I want. BUT - I find that when I attend open houses, the listing agent always HOUNDS me for my information. Is there a protocol that I must follow? What happened if I find a property this way. Will the listing agent say, that I am not allowed to use my own agent?

P.S. I plan to purchase a co-op, but have a very specific taste about location and size of the property

Help the community by answering this question:


I find that many buyers like to look at open houses, browse the internet, and to a much lesser extent, print ads even when they have an agent. I encourage my buyers to reach out to me, or my office staff, at any time with questions about any property they find anywhere (drive by, internet, print ad.) Our office staff is licensed and can therefore help any of our clients when their agent is not immediately available. Our office staff will fax listings, look up tax amounts, etc. We encourage buyers to call their agent or our office staff, whichever is easiest for them. While the listing agent has a responsibility to provide factual data about a property to any buyer, it would be better to contact your agent instead, whenever possible. Phoning the listing agent and inquiring a factual question about a property does not bind you to the listing agent in any way. If you were to make an appt and view the property through the listing agent, that might lead to complications about who would be representing you. Work through your agent only to arrange property visits.

As a buyer, if you want to attend open houses, you can ask your agent for a handful of biz cards. Upon signing in, simply hand the open house host your agent’s card, and direct the open house host to contact your agent for any follow up pertaining to your visit. Sign in with your name on a roster sheet if requested as “Your Name - Client of Agent Jane -XYZ Realty” and put the preferred phone number (cell or office) for your agent. If you want to attend open houses and find that helpful in your endeavor, by all means, do. This method of sign in makes it blatantly clear that you are represented and will keep you from being hounded.

Good luck!
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 12, 2007
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Brick, NJ
Periodically I work with Buyer-clients who will continue to search for their own listings until they become confident that I am getting every available listing to them on a timely basis. I have to develop their trust especially if they had a bad experience with another agent. This is part of the process that must be explained at the outset of a business relationship.

Unfortunately, there are some agents who do not put their client's interests above their own (this is a violation of the Code of Ethics, which applies ONLY to Realtors). For example, some agents will not show properties that offer less than a certain commission. Others are slow to respond to their clients.

As far as "etiquette", agents should be making your inquiries: that is part of what we are paid for. However, if the need arises for you to call an office or an agent to get information, you should clearly state that you have an agent so that there is no misunderstanding as can happen in a "commission" career like Real Estate. This specifically applies to "Open Houses". However, in most cases you must visit New Construction with your agent!

Make certain that you are comfortable with your agent, that they have explained the process to you, that you have discussed your needs and expectations and, finally, that you both understand how the process will work.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 12, 2007
If you are working with an agent and you search on your own there is nothing wrong with that. You should always inform other agents that you are working with an agent. That should stop them from hounding you. If they persist and want some information, give them your agents name and number. You should have no more trouble. Thanks for asking the question. It is a good question. Don't know how you got a thumbs down, but I gave you a thumbs up. People need to know these things. Good luck. Carrie
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 12, 2007

While I would love to be the one who finds "The House" for my buyer clients, I don't mind at all if they search on their own while I also search for them. Good for them if they find something I didn't see. Why? Because there's more to being a buyer's agent than just finding the house. That's the easy part! The hard part comes when you decide to put in an offer. Then there are negotiations, inspections, more negotiations, legal issues, taxes, lender criteria.... oh, and the list goes on and on.

So. To answer your question, feel free to search, BUT... keep in mind your loyalty to your agent and all they have to offer other than just finding your property. When you go to open houses, take some of your agent's cards with you. Tell the listing agent you are already represented. When you see something you like, don't call the listing agent directly, instead, don't hesitate to call YOUR agent and tell them you are interested in seeing a particular property. Sure, it may mean an extra phone call, but if you cut your agent out of the communication process, you could potentially put yourself in an awkward situation, and even, without meaning to, put the listing agent in a position of dual agency! Not only that, but if you cut your agent out, you won't have anybody on your side during the transaction process. Trust me - that is worth the extra few minutes of your time.

Have fun finding your home!
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 12, 2007
We all just love popping into open houses! Carry your agent's card and show it to them as you say "I already have an agent". This seems to work every time and I always advise my clients to do this.

Good Luck!
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 12, 2007
Actually, all of that is your agent's job. He or she gets paid to find you a house. Why have him earn a commission while you search on your own? If you don't think your agent can find you a house, or you don't trust them to act in your best interest, OR they don't put forth the effort you think is required... find a new agent. If you get hounded at an open house, simply tell them you are already working with an agent.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 12, 2007
I wish most gaents were more prepared. On my open house sign in sheet I have a spot that says are you currently represented by an agent, if so whom?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 6, 2008

I know this process can be frustrating, I have been through it. One of the best things you can do is be sure to put your agent's name down on the listing sheet when you sign into an open house. Also, if someone asks you how you found the house, tell them that you have been working with an agent.

Good luck!
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 6, 2008
A great question! Most are unaware of if and how to disclose working with an agent. Because your agent commits to you, we sure hope you do the same and very much appreciate the consideration. Whenever in doubt, exclaim you are working with an agent and fully (and hopefully, happily) represented. If an agent should somehow continue to aggravate you at an Open House, etc., it is more of a liability to them versus you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 22, 2008
Very simple. Have your buyer agent give you a bunch of business cards. When you go to an open house, give the agent your agents card and say that you are working with them. As for calling other listings, I would recommend that you have your agent do the legwork for you and communicate with the other agent. Your agent should have you connected to MLS so you should be able to access the addresses anyway for drivebys.
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 26, 2008
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