Because, as you say you had no verbal or written agreement to use the services of this agent, you have no obligation to him. Were he a true professional, he would wish you luck and move on. His lack of ability to recognize early on you were not interested and gracefully touch bases with you on a less irratating schedule, earning your trust and respect would have served him much better and potentially captured your business. Too many agents in their zeal to simply earn as much as they can, forget we are a service industry, and instead of educating and empowering you, it seems this mans only interest was attempting to brow beat you into submission for his own monetary gain. You are the consumer, find a solid agent who you can "connect" with and who has a reputation distinguished by a portfolio of testimonial letters from past clients and stick with him/her. Don't be afraid to fire your agent if he/she is not doing what you want so long as it's ethical. Caveat Emtpor!
And while I don't agree with Dorene's post either, I found it arrogant and condescending, but I don't agree that she's grossly misinforming the public, nor that she should be removed, nor suspend her broker's license.
I didn't see any real pearls of wisdom in your post either, and yet you have every right to post your vitriolic opinion. That's the nature of a public website.
When you make contact with an agent and they start showing you property, calling, email, etc... they believe they are working for you as their agent - signed agreement or not. If this agent isn't working as you like - tell them. And follow up in an email or letter. If the time comes that you no longer wish them to be your agent - tell them in writing (1) I no longer desire their services (2) please respect my wishes by not calliing, emailing, etc. and (3) don't accept their services. When you do accept an agent to work for you a good follow up would be to acknowledge that agent in writing - possibly with a buyer broker agreement or another form of understanding, and notify the former agent.
Agents do not want to work for free and honestly do not want to be a pest.
Alex, I wish you the best.
You need to speak with a real estate attorney. Questions he/she will ask are: Did you sign an agency disclosure (who with/when/where)? Did you sign a buyer/broker agreement (who with/when/where)? If you did not sign a buyer broker agreement but did sign an agency agreement...what happened next (exact sequence of events)? Did either the first agent or second agent offer any incentives to you in order to get your business (what/when)? What specifically did the first agent do in the house hunt (sequence of events, show property, help with disclosure info, write any contracts on any other properties, write a contract on this property that wasn't submitted etc.)? When and how did you "fire" the first agent? How did you come to meet the second agent? What did the second agent do in the house hunt (sequence of events, show this property, help with disclosure info, write a contract on this house or any other)? etc.
You will be asked a series of questions to see if the first agent (even if you didn't have a written buyer's broker agreement) was the main factor through a series of events that led to you buying the property. If there was a break in the events, the first agent didn't write a contract on it etc. these are reasons that the second agent should be procurring cause. With that being said, seek legal advice. We are real estate agents, who through experience understand the processes, but we don't know for fact the legalities or remedies in your specific case. GOdd luck and it would be nice when you case is resolved that you finish the thread.
Without a signed EBA his case is far weaker. I'm glad that you did inform your current agent, and am surprised that he didn't try to work out some arrangement with the first agent, if only to avoid the exact situation you've found yourself in today.
If I'd have been your current agent... I would have notified agent #1 that you were now working with me, and that if we find a property to buy (regardless of which property) that I'd be willing to pay him a small referral fee (maybe 10%) for his trouble. He would probably have accepted that, most likely figuring that you're not going to purchase a home that he already showed you. I would have gotten his "agreement" in writing, and then you wouldn't be fighting this situation today.
I doubt that you'll be called to attend the arbitration, but your current agent might ask you to write an affidavit, at some point, to support him... but he'll let you know if/when he needs it. Meanwhile, you might want to let him know that you're willing to write one, if he needs it.
I'm not sure how California law will treat the situation, but I'd presume the first agent will be entitled to some portion of the commission, as he DID show you the home (twice) that you ended up purchasing. And he did attempt to stay in touch with you. Procuring cause is much more than merely the "showing" of the property... but follow-up is a part of cause too.... and it sounds like he tried.
You are not liable, if you didn't sign an exclusive buyer's agreement, so no money will come from your pocket. But your current agent will likely have to share a portion of his commission.
I read through all the answers and I would like to confirm with you one more time. You have no obligation to the first agent at all. And you can tell him to hit the road. I hope his name is JACK so you can sing that tune to his message. Tell him not to bother you. That was his fault did not have enough confidence in himself to ask you to sign the agreement. The second agent need not to do anything. None of you or your agent has fault or is reliable. Dorene was right and so were the others except the Wanderer. I don't know if it was he or she because this person is mysterious and I don't know if he knows anything about our California Real Estate Laws. I don't even know if he is really a licensed agent or not so just be careful when you take his advice. If you need legal advice talk to your attorney. Dorene is the broker and she knows what she is talking about. I agree with her along with Rebecca and Teri. Julie made a good point since she only spoke what she knew of in her own state of New York. Good luck with your home hunting process.
In NYS if you signed nothing you would not be held liable for any of the agent's commission. Your first agent and your second agent would go before a grievance committee of their peers. The committee would then decide who was ultimately the procuring cause of the sale. Whoever made the best case would win because they do not like to split the commissions as it devalues the entire arbitration process. Maybe you can provide some type of written statement for your second agent stating you enlisted his help after having to tell the other agent to stop calling you. I am not sure if it will help or not. I can only speak from experience in my own state. This is why it is important for everyone involved in a real estate transaction to be entirely honest.
I am not a realtor, but I work in sales. Commissioned salespeople depend upon the integrity of the customers. The first realtor should get paid. If the second realtor was duped by you, you should pay him. If the second realtor knew he was stealing someone else's sale, tough luck.
Many times in situations like this the agents end up working out a deal where the agents split the commission, but only if they both agree. Hopefully this was not a situation where you got any commission back from the agent (as from discount Brokers) because that amount would still need to be paid by the second agent to the first.
If you signed a buyer's agency agreement with the 1st agent you may be liable to him. If you are confident that you did not I would advise that you write a letter on behalf of your current agent and explain why you chose to have the second agent represent you.