I decided to change my agent as I am not satisfy with the current one. Can I buy a house that has been shown by the previous agent via new agent?

Asked by Spiderrr, Civic Center, New York, NY Fri Jun 1, 2012

I decided to change my agent as I am not satisfy with the current one. Now the question is, can I buy a house that has been shown by the previous agent via the new buyer's agent? any legal obligation?

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Donald Mituzas’ answer
Donald Mituz…, Agent, Chappaqua, NY
Fri Jun 15, 2012
Although there are some good answers here, I'm surprised by how much misinformation there is. Some of it could cost you a bundle.

If you signed an "exclusive right to represent" agreement, then you have to read that agreement to see what you may be responsible for. It is possible that if your first agent showed you a property you want to buy then they are entitled to a commission which you may have to pay.

If you signed an "agency disclosure" form you may be able to use whoever you want with no problem. See here for NY disclosure form. http://www.dos.ny.gov/forms/licensing/1736-a.pdf

Please be wary of some of the answers you see posted here. From some of it's most basic forms such as the fact that some agents use the title vice president or licensed real estate agent, neither of which are legal ny real estate licensing titles to saying you owe a commission even if you didn't sign any form of agreement. There are some good answers here and some scary. Don't be sold by a VIP title or pro designation. It means nothing.

Donald A Mituzas
Licensed Associate Broker
2008 Realtor of the Year
Director - New York State Association of Realtors
Prudential Douglas Elliman
0 votes
The VIP and PRO are Trulia designations dependent upon the individual agents participation within Trulia. They do not refer to Vice President or Licensed real estate agent - just wanted to clarify for the sake of the readers.
Flag Fri Jun 15, 2012
Jenet Levy, Agent, New York, NY
Sat Jun 2, 2012
If you are asking a question about NYC, particularly Manhattan, please be aware that all the answers from out of state are totally irrelelvant, and those out of Manhattan are mostly irrelevant. What you are dealing with here is the REBNY (Real Estate Board of NY) regulations, and the other boroughs have other boards and other states have totally different laws. Also, to those responders referring to a buyer's agreement, we do not have that here.

There are two sets of issues, moral/ethical and legal.
If you did work, would you want to be paid for it, or would you like someone else to get your pay? The agent that brought you to that house is ethically and morally the one who is entitled to earn the money for bringing that place to your attention and taking you in. Plain and simple. There is surely a paper trail of that agent setting up that appointment. Now, from a REBNY point of view, there are two things at work. You do have the right to change agents if the agent you are working with is not serving you well, or you are not clicking. However, in a co-broker situation (there's a buyer's agent and a seller's agent) the co-broker entitled to a commission is the "procuring broker" which means the one who brought you there in the first place. That agent was working, not playing, when they researched properties on your behalf, took you to some and already committed time to you in the expectation of a deal that could otherwise have been spent on other activities that would result in a commission. To expect someone to find you the house you want and then disappear for someone else to reap the rewards is wrong on multiple levels in my opinion.

I would suggest you try to work out your differences and if not, get the broker of this agent to intercede and assign someone else, and let the broker figure out the split.
2 votes
First Last, , 90002
Sat Jun 2, 2012
Yes of course you can buy, and no, you have no legal obligation to pay any extra money, unless you signed otherwise, which is unlikely. Agents have a saying, "No one owns a buyer."

In New York State, buyers rarely sign agreements concerning commissions with a buyer's agent. Rarely--not never, just rarely. In other states, buyers are more likely to sign commission agreements with agents. [The NY State agency disclosure you signed is Not a contract, it's just a disclosure.]

If you did not sign a buyer's agreement to pay a commission to an agent, you have nothing to worry about. Any commission concerns are among the brokerages and do not concern you.

It is possible, however, that the seller's agent will hear from your former buyer's agent demanding some share of the commission.

Therefore, you should tell your new buyers' agent, if any, the history of this situation.

Also, you could ask the new buyer's agent to show you the house again, that you want to take a second look. That helps establish your new buyer's agent's relationship between you and the property.

If you buy the house without any new buyer's agent, as an unrepresented buyer, the seller's agent might arrange to share commission with your former agent anyway.

Commission sharing occurs among brokerages as specified by the seller's listing agreement and the agreements brokerages have among themselves. These are contracts that you, as a buyer, are not a party to in any way. Therefore what exactly happens to that commission is not something you control, although the outcome will be disclosed to you by closing time.

Karla Harby
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson
Rutenberg Realty
New York, NY
2 votes
John Sacktig, Agent, New Jersey, NJ
Fri Jun 1, 2012
HA! Janet, I love this type of response.. what a bunch of malarkey!

"If the agent that you are dissatisfied with is not successful with negotiating an offer that works for you, run a mile and find a true buyer's agent for the rest of your real estate experience, he or she will put your best interest first and in my opinion, usually provide superior service."

Really? Nonsense.

We are all buyers agents, listing agents and dual agents until that distinction is made.

The whole “best interest” thing is pretty murky and a pretty silly response. I’d love to hear the explanation of what happens in your corner that gives that superior service? Of 99% of agents say this. not one can explain anything different that is done more than the listing agent. Never heard how an agent can get the house for less, nor can they explain what they do that makes it better.
It is just a self serving remark to make a buyer come to you for the sale.

One last thing. Never, ever sign an exclusive buyer’s agreement. It is the worst thing you can do. If the agent asks you to sign one, it shows you the only best interest that agent is looking out for is their own.
2 votes
Anna M Brocco, Agent, Williston Park, NY
Sat Jun 2, 2012
If you have no signed agreement with your current agent, you are free to work with whoever you like; however do consider a chat with your current agent and voice your concerns, oftentimes a lack of communication results in dissatisfaction....
1 vote
Elena Ravich,…, Agent, New York City, NY
Fri Jun 1, 2012
Most likely, your previous agent will be entitled to receive his/her commission if you buy any of the properties he/she showed to you (and which fact is documented somehow) and can bring a legal action to enforce this right. However, you should read (or ask your attorney to review) the agreement that you had with your agent and see what it specifically says about properties that have been shown to you by that agent and during what time after termination of the agreement they are still entitled to commission.
1 vote
Marco Gomez &…, Agent, Jackson Heights, NY
Mon Jun 18, 2012
Commission disputes boil down to what is referred to in the industry as "procuring cause." The agent who ultimately caused the buyer to purchase the home and earned the commission is generally the procuring cause agent. Although it is highly unethical to have another agent make an offer and possibly go into contract on a property shown to you by a different agent, it's not illegal. You should however alert the new agent to the fact and he can possibly work out a referral fee with the previous agent to avoid any issues.
0 votes
Irina Karan, Agent, Aventura, FL
Mon Jun 4, 2012
Since we don't know the reasons for your dissatisfaction, it's hard to recommend specifically...

So, I suggest to have a heart to heart with your current agent - explaining what you dislike
in your working together. If there is no understanding, have a meeting with this agent's broker (
with your agent being there). If there is no understanding, still, bring up your dilemma of not
wanting to work with this agent on the previously shown property purchase. You might get a new agent assigned to you by the broker.

Things could be worked out in most cases.

However, I agree with previous agents here - that your agent needs to get paid for the work on your behalf - but only for the properties that he/she showed to you (unless there is an exclusive buyer agreement in place, which states how to handle this situation).

If you can't resolve your differences, however, search for new properties with the new agent. If you love the property shown by the "ex" agent - finish the transaction with him/her or their substitute, assigned by his/her broker (again, unless you signed paperwork where you have a different agreement).

Best of luck,

Irina Karan
Beachfront Realty, Inc.
0 votes
Truett Hanke…, , New York, NY
Mon Jun 4, 2012
Hi, That depends on what documents you signed with the first agent. If you signed any registration or fee agreement type document that says if you purchase a place that was shown to you, then you owe them their fee. Yes than legal ramifications will happen. Also if the agent finds out and you didn't sign anything they can still sue you because technically by showing you properties they were legally acting as your agent and rep so they are due the commission if you purchase something they show you.
0 votes
Kelly Killian, Agent, Astoria, NY
Sat Jun 2, 2012
You have the right under NYS law to change your agent at any time. There are 0 legal ramifications. If you are buying a co-op even more important as they have to get you through the board process which can be quite complicated. I got two very complicated buyers through difficult board processes this year that under normal circumstances should not have been approved. One had failed a previous board process with another agent who didn't know how to manage their complicated financials. With that said, it is critical you have someone who represents you well, is smart, hardworking, and works strategically for you. See my blog on Trulia regarding what the law states on disclosure and your right to representation.

Kelly Killian
Vice President
Bond New York
cel 954-675-9915
0 votes
Fajardo Dela…, Agent, Flushing, NY
Fri Jun 1, 2012
Yes, go with whom you feel comfortable with. If you would like to speak
with you to get more information on what type of agent you will need.
Please just give me a call as soon as you can

Thank you

Fajardo Delacruz
Licensed Real Estate Agent
Century Homes Realty Group llc
Direct Line: 347-932-0609
0 votes
James Furlong, Agent, Brookline, MA
Fri Jun 1, 2012
A listing agent has a responsibility to act in the best interest of the seller. A buyer's agent has a responsibility to act in the best interest of the buyer. Individual agents will interpret these responsibilities in different ways. At the end of the day the individual agent should know the desires and needs of the seller or the buyer, depending on their representation. There is no need for an adversarial interaction between the buyer's agent and the seller's agent - their interaction should be professional at all times. Of course, as is obvious from some of the participants in this discussion, this does not always happen. The agent should do a lot more than get the highest price or get the lowest price. Each situation will require it's own particular actions by the agent. In the event that a buyer or seller is dissatisfied with their agent's actions, and are unable to correct the situation, it is important to get the broker of the office involved. There is no reason why a solution cannot be reached in a professional and non-adversarial manner. Unfortunately this will not always happen, as is evidenced by some of the comments made in prior responses to this question.
0 votes
Janet Nation,…, Agent, Baldwin, NY
Fri Jun 1, 2012
John, I don't know why you find it necessary to PROFILE my response as oppose to answering the consumer question but who you are and what you represent, and how you run your business, and how you clearly feel about the people you are servicing clearly speaks for itself. Have a good night,.
0 votes
Janet Nation,…, Agent, Baldwin, NY
Fri Jun 1, 2012
You didn't say in which capacity you were working with the agent. If you signed an exclusive agreement to work with that agent as your buyer's agent, the agent would be entitled to a commission whether you moved on to a new agent or not. If the agent worked with you in a sub agent capacity, that is working for the seller, you actually can change agents; there is absolutely no obligation. However, from an agent's stand point and just out of decency I say continue working with that agent for that particular house only If the agent that you are dissatisfied with is not successful with negotiating an offer that works for you, run a mile and find a true buyer's agent for the rest of your real estate experience, he or she will put your best interest first and in my opinion, usually provide superior service.
0 votes
Gail Gladsto…, Agent, 11743, NY
Fri Jun 1, 2012
Unless you have signed an exclusive representation agreement, you have no obligation.

The seller pays the commission which goes to the Realtor who gets you to contract.

Last I checked, this is still a free country and you still get to decide whom you wish to employ.

If the original Realtor feels entitlement, they can pursue a share of the commission from the Realtor you used After closing. This does not involve you.
0 votes
James Furlong, Agent, Brookline, MA
Fri Jun 1, 2012
The legal obligation will be spelled out in your contract with your first agent.
0 votes
i don't remember i have signed any contract like that. So far I have signed a stack of documents when making offer for 2 houses which I don't even have a copy. I know I should have be more careful before signing anything (in fact i am not aware of the issue until my friend told me) . Do you think I can write a letter to the agent to terminate our contract (if it does exist)? BTW, I am from NJ. thanks for the advices.
Flag Fri Jun 1, 2012
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