Home Buying in 10562>Question Details

Sam, Home Buyer in Beacon, NY

trying to change agent

Asked by Sam, Beacon, NY Sat Sep 10, 2011

our real estate agent showed us some houses, we found something we liked and have come close to finalizing on an price with the buyer (nothing signed, the home inspection was the next thing).

But during the process the relationship has grow sour. She refuses to call us (sends us notes to call her an hr after she originally agreed to call), belittles us when we asks for information. In general it has become very hard to contact her. When we tried to discuss this with her, she cut the call.
We would like to change agents. We have not signed the agreement with her (she did not give it to us in spite of us asking for it). Pl advise on how we should proceed and if there are any legal issues we need to be worried about.
A common response to this Q has been to contact her manager. How do I find that info? I have a reco from a friend (different brokerage). What are the tradeoffs?

Also do I legally need to sign the exclusivity contract with her?

Thanx a lot
very worried 1st time buyers

Help the community by answering this question:


Hi Sam,

Tough question and I'm not a lawyer so please don't take this as legal advice, it is only my opinion. That said, as a liscensed NY State Real Estate instructor I can tell you this much :

If your current agent showed you and negotiated the home you want to buy then you arguably have an agency relationship with them. For this reason I think it would be hard to change your agency now because you are already in the negotiating process. Problem is still two fold however since you don't want to work with your agent and they are in violation of NY State Real Estate Disclosure Law.

The law is clear and states that we as agents, must go over and have you sign the required NY State Agency Disclosure form, indicating what fiduciary capacity we will be working in. This is to occur at the first sustantive meeting, which means before we show any real estate. This will still need to be done to close.

So you understand agency law better let me explain that as I understand it in NY there are two types of agency relationships that can be in existance, Express and Implied. An Express Agency relationship can be formed via a spoken or written agreement. An Implied Agency could be argued to exist even without a written or verbal agreement and is associated with you actions.

Unfortunately, NY State law only requires the written disclosure but does not require a written agreement . This is confusing to many. Your Implied Agency could be argued as coming about through your willingness and acceptance of the many services provided to you from this agent/agency to date, including the time spent on searches, locating the home and the negotiation process.

To get out of the agency agreement now is possible but could be tricky. Ask for it in writing. You will probably have an easier time switching agents, provided you stick with the same agency. If it were me I might write an e-mail to the agent and the broker manager alike. I would state that I would like to dissolve my agency relationship with that particular agent and I would state why. I would relate that I would like someone else to help me complete the sale.

Keep in mind that we as agents are not employees. We are independant contractors associated with brokerages. Therefore the Implied Agency I am assuming you are in, could be technically with the company and not only the agent. If you choose to use another agent/agency entirely without being let out of the implied agency by broker and agent alike, then theoretically, I guess you could have a legal battle later on if you buy this house through another should either the agent or brokerage decide to litigate. This of course might be thrown out because of any number of reasons, including the the agent's/brokerage violation of agency law, but who knows, you could all lose out?

Also, If I had an accepted offer I might think about not wanting to rock the boat by having to recind an offer with one agent only to resubmit it with another. The seller and the listing agent might get the wrong idea and it could undercut their confidence in you. Yes I think switching agents within the company might be the route I would follow. This way the actions of the agent should have real consequences, in the form of less commission, since someone will have to take over and finish the job for them and the company has the glaring responsibility to let everyone know that this sort of violation of license law and poor treament of clients is outrageous and will not be tolerated.

Once the deal closes of course you would be entirely free to bring the agent/brokerage up for review without fear of loss of your new home if you like.

A final word on Agency relationships. I advocate for NY state real estate law to adopt the Connecticut standard that makes it mandatory for all buyers to sign an exclusive buyer agency agreement. It's simply too confusing as it is. We all deserve clarity on this subject of who works for whom and what we expect from our relationship. I agree that buyers need to be protected as well as the agents that serve them.

Good Luck,

Donna Scragg
Associate Broker
Coldwell Banker Rye
Web Reference: http://donnascragg.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 12, 2011
Hi Sam,

In New York, licensed real estate agents are required by the DOS (Dept. of State) to explain Agency and in which capacity they are acting (ie., Seller's Agent, Broker's Agent, Buyer's Agent, or Dual Agent). After they have explained Agency to you and before they show you even one property, they are required to ask you to sign this disclosure acknowledging they have explained their role in working with you.

However, they also need to explain that if you do not sign an Exclusive Right to Represent with them, you are a customer, and the agent represents the seller. If you do sign the Exclusive Right to Represent, then you are a client, and the agent represents you as a Buyer's Agent, and, you are entitled to much more than a customer.

The fact that you did not sign an Exclusive Right to Represent contract with this agent, means you are free to use the services of any other agent to help you secure a property. Today, since such documents exist to protect both buyers and agents, the fact that the agent neglected to have you sign it, will make it very hard for her to plead her case that you are a client.

Best of luck,

Sally Griffiths, GRI
Weichert, Realtors
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 11, 2011
You state " A common response to this Q has been to contact her manager. How do I find that info?" In order to find the manger--assuming you have the agent's business card and company address--call that office number and ask to speak to either the broker owner, and or manager; or consider stopping in the office; if you don't have an office contact number, Google the agent, or agency of affiliation. For any necessary legal advice, do consult with your attorney.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 11, 2011
Dear Very Worried First Time Home Buyers,

As Real Estate Agents, unless we are an attorney, we are not permited to give legal advice. Therefore, please confirm with your attorney about using another agent. The problem lies in the fact that this agent showed you the home (and sounds like she negotiated the price) to get you where you are now in the process. The fact that you did not sign an Exclusive Right to Represent, however, may give you the "out" you are looking for. Once again, confirm this with your attorney.

You can also contact your local Board of Realtors; Westchester-Putnam Association of Realtors 914-681-0833.

No one should be belittled. And first time home buyers, as well as any other home buyer, should be provided with clear answers to the questions they have.

I am glad to discuss this further in confidence if you would like.

Best of luck to you in your purchase!

Suzanne T Clevenberg
Royal Grand Realty, LLC
520 White Plains Road- Ste 500
Tarrytown, NY 10591
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 10, 2011
The agents before me addressed how finding another agent in your case would be legal and in fact suggested so I won't repeat.
You mentioned that you have a reco from a friend. I would strongly take he or she up on that. Buying a home is a huge investment. You need to feel comfortable and confident shelling out your hard earned money. Go with someone you feel you can trust.

Best of luck,
Xavier Durrant
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 22, 2013

This is amost unfortunate situation.....

Your agents behavior simply doesn't add up. Their behavior is actually getting in the way of them getting a sale. Can't help thinking there is more to this........

Is it possible that she has figured out that you are considering "dumping" her for another agent. This may explain why she is on self-destruct mode. You are correct about the best course of action being contacting the broker and requesting their assistance.

The best approach to this may not be getting a new agent but dealing with the issue(s).

Good luck,

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 11, 2011
You can call the office number for the agent you are working with and ask to speak to the manager or principle broker. You don't have to sign a contract but it's there to protect you and the agent.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 10, 2011
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