Multiple Realtors - offensive?

22 Replies

Hello - my husband and I are closing on our first house this Friday (duplex, house hacking). We plan to buy many more houses over the years and build this business. We're using a realtor who has been very helpful and has taught us a lot throughout this process. The only problem is I feel like we don't "fit" with him. He is not as aggressive as we would like, and he's also a little disorganized. I keep thinking, "we are building a business, we need a solid team" and I just feel like he is not the right fit for our team. 

My question is - how do you quit your realtor when he's already expecting us to use him for the next house? We would still like to keep in contact with him for potential future deals as a part of our network, but would be more interested in using another realtor for the next one. Wouldn't that offend him?

Another question - many people on here talk about using multiple realtors or having realtor contacts who can offer deals before they even go to market. How do people do this without offending their other/first realtor? I'm not a realtor, but I'd think if my clients went with someone else for another deal, I'd be offended. Then we would worry that our realtor might not be trying to get us the best deal. 

Would appreciate any advice from the other side! 

If you are someone doing 25 deals a year, then you might need a network with multiple realtors.  However for someone with out any track record....no realtor who values their time is going to work with you if you are working with multiple realtors.

The experienced realtors often know each other. If you use multiple agents they can set you up refuse to give you any leads. In this day of age, 85% buyers look for online and find the homes often w/o an agent. Often the realtor represent you is administrative type, guide you, write the contracts, check out the property after your find your dream property. You and him have the same online tools. 

@Ashley Shearer - if you want to buy many more houses in the next couple of years, you will need to become responsible for finding your deals. You will never develop a strong investment profile by having agents find you properties. When I was still active as an agent, I had my own off-market source that I could dole out, but now as an investor, I use my own sources and operate 90 percent off-market. On-market I work direct with the REO agents as you will have a much better chance of winning when you give them the buy side on their REO listing.

In short, just tell the agent the truth. If all they are doing is sending you MLS deals, they aren't doing anything that someone else can't do. However, you will need a go-to agent to get you into MLS properties, but I would start developing your own off-market strategy via mailers and driving for dollars and building lists.

@Ashley Shearer , Hello! As an agent myself it would definitely be offensive if you were to just move onto another person and I heard through the grapevine that you bought a house using a different realtor. That being said if the client were to have an honest conversation with me. Explaining that they need a more aggressive agent and maybe an agent that is more "investor friendly" then I would be more understanding. Personally, I would try my hardest to prove myself to the client that I do have the negotiation skills necessary and that I am willing to write up low offers etc. Essentially I would just have that conversation with him. I do know of quite a few seasoned agents that work with investors and when the investor buys a home through a different agent they will immediately sever the relationship. Some agents do not work well with others so they do not like sharing clients. Others will be more understanding and they will just work harder for your business. It depends how motivated they are to keep you as a client.

My main advice here is that you are going to need to be a little ruthless when it comes to the real estate investing industry. You need the best possible deals to build your business the way I am sure you want. I'm not saying you should be mean but you can't be too afraid of hurting peoples feelings. 

I do agree with @Russell Brazil as well. Maybe your current agent wasn't the best fit but that doesn't mean you need a network with multiple realtors at this stage of your business. If I were you I would have the conversation with my current agent and see if they will adjust their tactics significantly. If not, I would kindly inform them that I have to find a more aggressive agent that is a better fit for my business. 

Sounds like you need to have a moment to yourself and come up with clear expectations of the role you see your realtor serving. It doesn't sound like the current one "won't" work, but you might both have different ideas of the expectations of the role....define it and give em a chance to perform.

Hi @Ashley Shearer ,

One thing to keep in mind is there is more than "On-Market" and "Off Market". There is a whole world of sellers out there that do not want to list (They feel they are saving money). So they contact agents they have worked with and we wander out and look at the place. Most times there is no yard sign and they do not put it online because they have tenants they do not want to spook.  They do not want us to list it so we can't. However we can very well contact our investor clients and let them know it is there and represent them on the deal. So the fewer people that ever even hear of it the better for my client. Who do I call first when that smoking deal phone call comes in? The clients I have worked with the most that make it the easiest. Sure sometimes I contact a one off person I met but it is usually after I have exhausted by other investors.

So my recommendation would be to find the right agent, if it is not this one then find the right one.  Good Luck! 

Originally posted by @Mike Cumbie :

Hi @Ashley Shearer ,

One thing to keep in mind is there is more than "On-Market" and "Off Market". There is a whole world of sellers out there that do not want to list (They feel they are saving money). So they contact agents they have worked with and we wander out and look at the place. Most times there is no yard sign and they do not put it online because they have tenants they do not want to spook.  They do not want us to list it so we can't. However we can very well contact our investor clients and let them know it is there and represent them on the deal. So the fewer people that ever even hear of it the better for my client. Who do I call first when that smoking deal phone call comes in? The clients I have worked with the most that make it the easiest. Sure sometimes I contact a one off person I met but it is usually after I have exhausted by other investors.

So my recommendation would be to find the right agent, if it is not this one then find the right one.  Good Luck! 

 Hi Mike, this makes a lot of sense with these pocket listings. Just curious if you do sell a house without listing on the mls, do you still charge your client the typical fees or would it be a case by case basis? 

And how would an investor identify an agent that has access to off-mls listings besides networking and referrals ? 

Treat the task of working with an agent just like a marriage.  You have millions of options out there, so take the time to find the right one, and STICK with that one.  Interview 10 or 20 if you need to, and choose the best one.  If you found yourself with one that isn't ideal, move on and find the best one you can, but be sure to STICK with the best one.

The important thing is to not "two time" with agents at the same time.  In other words, don't use multiple agents for the same local market at the same time.  That will offend your agents and they will not commit to YOU.  You want your agent (assuming they are good) fully committed to your interests.  You want them to be loyally committed to you, so commit to them, simple!  The commitment is not a one way street.  Again, like a marriage!  :)

Hi @Chris T.

It's not really a pocket listing because there is no listing agreement. The agent has no "agency to the seller". The only real question is "If I bring you a buyer will you pay me a commission for my end?". The seller choose not to get into agency with me (Because if they did I would much prefer that because I can get them a better price). Since the seller choose not to get into agency, I simply know of a house that an owner wants to sell that I legally can't list or advertise (Think FSBO). Out comes my list of investors who may have an interest. Now I would have the buyer sign an agreement for that property before they knew any details (unless we have worked together enough).

If the owner didn't want to pay a buyers commission, then I would let the investor know in advance that I knew of a place and my fee if they decide to purchase is "X". To find them ask who works with investors in your local branch. There is usually one or more. The big heavy hitters rarely get wrapped up in it because they deal in retail numbers.

Happy Hunting!

As Max suggests it is like any relationship. Starting out you may need to date multiple indivulaes before you find the right one to work as a permanent relationship.

You do not marry the wrong one because you are afraid to offend them. Throw them to the curb and move on if necessary or try dating a few at the same time. Your choice.

The one most important thing to remember when investing is that money has no emotions. Financial decisions should be the same.

thank you for your feedback @Mike Cumbie

I would gladly pay a realtor's fee if the numbers work - if seller wouldn't pay. It's no different from buying from a wholesaler.

No one wants to work for free, and it's all about building relationships and trust. 

My apologizes to the OP @Ashley Shearer for hijacking her post. 

I've never really got the policy of having to be exclusive with one agent. Bring me leads and deals, and I will buy through you and you will get paid. If another agent brings me a good deal that for whatever reason you did not, I'm not going to turn it down. I don't care where/who brought the deal to me....if its a good deal, I don't care.....this is business, its not personal.....

Now taking up time and effort from an agent and never buying anything....or getting a lead from one agent and then buying it from another....that's BS and disrespectful and as an agent I would severe any relationship. So don't waste their time....don't steal their sale..... that I get.....

But I don't see any ethical issues with having multiple agents know that I'm in the market to buy and what I'm looking for and keep me posted when properties come up.....if that offends you that other agents know that I'm looking, then that's on you....find me the deals and you get the sale...simple enough.....

Now the agents can flame on me ......

@Ashley Shearer this realtor was patient and helped educate you and get you started, but now you have no need for him anymore (unless he can bring you a deal). That sounds arrogant (I know you didn't mean it that way). 

It is fine if the agent doesn't meet your goals moving forward. Be honest and polite. Tell him you will not be working with him on future deals, but thank him for all his help on this deal. Don't use him to find deals that you have no intent on closing with him.

Building a team / network involves loyalty. It is like dating. Did you ever have a boyfriend that broke up with you to see other women, but still called you?

The value of relationships in business is loyal people get prioritized. I call my realtor and he immediately responds to me. He has an off market deal and calls me first. I do every deal with him. I have a carpet guy that can get carpet installed in less than a week, because I buy all my carpet from him. Other people wait 3-5 weeks. My banker will have an approval letter for me within an hour. He comes to my house to pickup paperwork. I do all my deals with him.

Building a network isn't like friend requests on social media. More isn't necessarily better. You need a small team of reliable people. Maybe this guy isn't right, but find someone who is and stick with them.

Congratulations on your first home!

No worries @Chris T. - all good information! Same to all of you, thanks for the advice. 

@Jonathan Greene , @Mike Cumbie - If we do start finding our own deals (which is part of our plan), wouldn't we need an agent's help to write up a contract and settle? Or is that something it would make more sense to hire a lawyer to do until we learn most of those ropes ourselves? 

Thanks again to everyone!

You can use lawyers but you might have a harder time getting the other agent to push your bid... you could always call the listing agent of the deal you find and deal direct w/ them so they get both ends the commission. 

@Joe Splitrock - Thank you! Not exactly what I meant...it's not only about him bringing us deals, it's his style versus our style. I've reviewed multiple contracts, forms, etc. that have had mistakes (not to say no one makes mistakes) but these are things that have been overlooked due to a lack of attention to detail. He got our settlement date wrong, twice. The first offer we ever tried to make he wrote up for us, without even asking us first (we thought it wasn't aggressive enough, in turn causing his broker to be up to midnight redoing all the paperwork). Lastly, towards the end of it all, he made comments about the other agent and sellers that made us question his loyalty to US. 

Like I said, he has been extremely helpful in most cases and very patient with us, but just not the best fit. He has already offered to help us along with land-lording for the first time as well which we very much appreciate. Just looking for some realtors' takes on how to approach the situation.

When we do find a realtor who is the best fit, I definitely plan to stick with them!

I am a Realtor in Montgomery, Alabama. Don't worry about hurting an agents feelings, if they are not bringing the deals you want, just move on the next one. And, don't trust them with your contracts, they are not lawyers. If you find a property not on MLS, just have a closing attorney do all of the work for you. Typical closing around here is $450.00 for attorney fees(compare that to the real estate commission on a 150,000 property-probably 9,000).

@Ashley Shearer You really have to figure out what you're looking for in a realtor.  The one that I use is a little disorganized and it drives me nuts.  She has some pocket listings and hears about things...but probably not everything.  It sometimes takes her longer to get back to me that I'd like.  The "small" things that bug me could probably fill a sheet of paper.  However, what she can do exquisitely well is tour a property without me, give me an *accurate* rent estimate, take a contractor she knows with her, assess how easy/hard the property will be to rent out, etc.  That last piece of information (since I don't invest locally) is invaluable.  And she'll put in whatever offer makes sense for me, advise me on what she would think it should sell for, etc.  The net result is that I prioritize what she does bring to the table more than some of the small style mismatches.  

That said, unless you're sitting on dry powder (i.e. another stash o' money) you're putting the cart before the horse.  Worry about getting your current deal set before worrying about the next property.  Who knows what will happen between now and when you want to buy your next property.  You could change where you want to buy, change the type of property you want to buy, decide to move yourself, decide to get licensed yourself, etc.  There are 100 variables that could change over the next ___ months or ___ years. 

sounds like your pretty green... based on your question and expectations.

I have owned multiple brokerges and brokers/agents are all humans.. they all have strengths and weakness.

Or your perceptions of those..  like little nit picky things on a contract bother you.. 

if they are not using on line contracts that get sent to you via docu sign they are working in the last century.

your in an attorney state and you want to talk about un organized closing companies.. compared to other states your in the right place. 

If you don't mesh you can simply move on.  thats the great thing about being an agent your a free agent your not obligated to work with anyone and as the buyer its the same.. who cares if you hurt there feelings..

this will happen to an agent many times over a career.. 

Bottom line the best agents who can find the deals you will have to conform to their SOP's not the other way around buyers are dime a dozen and high maintenance one's who needs them.. remember your competition is someone like me .. if your looking for undervalued off market properties.. I require an agent to simply docu sign and then get out of the way.. I will tell him or her what i want through the transactions. And they continue to work with us because they know we close and don't run them ragged with 11pm e mails about silly Scribner things  LOL..   So find a balance but until you get to the point that your buying a property a month or so.. your just like thousands of small time investors.. best agents don't have time for you frankly.

Mike Cumbie above has laid out what is currently our most profitable market strategy as investors.

I've posted about this before on BiggerPockets.com, but it bears repeating. Anybody with enough time and energy can bring you MLS-listed deals. That's not what you want. One way to find the kind of agent you're looking for is to find her or him through tradesmen. Any agent who's been in the game for a long time and has experience with getting pocket listings and non-listing into shape to sell has very deep connections with the tradesmen in her or his area. Find five or six plumbers and electricians in your area and just ask if they know any real estate agents who work with investors. If the same name pops up two or three times, you've found the person you're looking for.

These agents are really worth their weight in gold when it comes to generating leads in mature communitiues. They're certainly worth the commission that the seller pays them to sell what eventually becomes their pocket listing.

We make all-cash, as-is, no contingency offers on low-price properties in our area. We closed on a non-listing like this the day before yesterday. The sale got made because the agent knew about the seller's family situation and when their father died, he knew what was about to happen to the house in question. He's known the seller since they were children. Before the deal got made, none of the infrastructure to make the sale was in place. It didn't need to be.

The agent met the seller, took our earnest-money check and a signed agreement of sale and slapped them down on their kitchen table, explained that he knew us and we don't back out of these sales, and the seller signed right on the line that is dotted. This is not the first time the agent's pulled that rabbit out of a local hat for us.

Yeah, it helps that we're able to make these all-cash, as-is, no contingency offers. But without the agent in place, without his smiling face selling our offer, without his deep roots in the community that go back decades, without plate after plate of rubber chicken and lumpy mashed potatoes at a thousand social events, without charity bingo every Friday night at the church for 20 years, the deal wouldn't have been made. Uncle Agent said it was OK and showed us the money, it must be OK.

We got the place for 64% of their initial asking price.


Find the tradesmen, find the agents.

The bottom line here to me is to treat them like you would like to be treated.  Most questions like this can be answered by putting yourself in their shoes.  To be unclear is to be unkind.  Let them know how you feel vs letting them find out you used a different agent after all, later!

Most any agent can make an offer for you. You could do it yourself most likely with the standard MLS paperwork used in your state if you want to. The actual making of the offer isn't where their value is. Their value is in their existing relationships.

I would want someone like @Mike Cumbie or @Russell Brazil (if they'd have me:) because they know the listing agent, the inspectors, the appraisers, the contractors, the title people, etc.  They may also know of fsbo's on the fence.  Almost on market stuff with no sign in the yard yet.

But they are past the hand-holding stage.  Hand-holders normally don't have both - patience and contacts/experience.  Most of us progress from hand-holders early on to true professionals that get things done.  We then let the hand-holder know we are moving on, but appreciate them for all they have done.

Messing up a date or name isn't that big a deal usually.  I don't know why your guy's broker stayed up all night to correct something (could be more serious) but if your agent is at heart an entrepreneur, the little details can be overlooked.  Entrepreneurs buzz around with 52 new ideas before lunch and attention to detail isn't their strong suit.  You are there to look things over, but your guy may just be unorganized, which isn't good.  

Anyway, define why you need an agent and what exactly you are looking for in one, then get one that has the relationships and drive and same expectations as you!

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