Is it unethical to realtor if buyer contacts the seller directly?

28 Replies

A few months ago I was given pre-approval to be a home "much more expensive than the one I was looking at" according to the lender.

So I made an offer on a house and did all the inspections and was close to closing when he let me know he didn't realize both me and the cosigner were self-employed (which we stated months prior). I was taken out of contract on the financing contingency. The home has now been on the market with a realtor for 535 days in addition to being on the market as FSBO since at least 2013, maybe longer.

I just noticed the home owner made a post on Facebook sharing the home listing in one of the "garage sale" groups I follow. So I now know who the owner is and have a way to contact them directly through facebook. Would this be disrespectful to my realtor or the listing agent? I would be contacting them to discuss the possibility of owner financing or any other options they would be willing to negotiate on. As I'm sure you know I could do this through realtors, but it's just much easier to talk to the sellers directly and get my point off more clearly.

Check your contract with your agent (if there even is a contract). Ethics aside, you may still be obligated to pay their commission should you purchase this property. The seller is likely obligated to pay their agent as well.

I agree with previous poster, both sides may have obligations to real estate agents because of contracts or prior history. That said, you can find the owner of almost any property through public records, so never assume the real estate agents have all the power and that you have to use them to contact a seller if you feel confident in handling your own transaction. Self employment shouldn’t be an issue if you have 2 years of tax returns showing you meet whatever numbers the bank requires.

If you haven’t signed a buyers contract with an agent you are fine. Go ahead and contact the seller directly.

@Sam Magina Unfortunately, my county gives absolutely no information out about properties. They make it hard to find the address, by only allowing you to use parcel numbers to find it, and once you do, the only information it provides is inaccurate tax assessments and outdated owner names. No contact info, or any other standard information I see other people mention that I should have access to.

As far as employment, we both have so many deductions that it shows we make a fraction of what we actually do. So we have saved money over the years but screwed ourselves out of getting a mortgage for the time being it appears.

With the technology today, why use a Realtor if you dont have to?

The owner posted in the group so I would definitely message them personally just like 100 other people might/could do.

Originally posted by @Rod Hanks :

If you haven’t signed a buyers contract with an agent you are fine. Go ahead and contact the seller directly.

I'm not sure how it works in Oklahoma but there could still be procuring cause issues if the buyer circumvents his buyer agent, seller agent gets paid the full commission, and buyer agent finds out and then disputes it.

Even if it is "legal" it's just bad business. Don't expect that buyer agent to ever help out again.

@Ryan Murdock I don't have a contract with my agent. Buyer/agent contracts don't seem to be a standard in my area.

Though I wasn't necessarily thinking of cutting out the realtors completely so they don't get their commissions, I was more just wanting to talk to the seller about the terms and hope to agree on something to bring to the realtors.

@Jacob Barnhart

If you still plan on using that realtor, you should alert them to your intentions and have them make an offer on your behalf. Since you have no expenses when it comes to the paying of agents, I'd let my agent do the work you hired them to do. If you feel you can get a better deal on your own and have no contract with your agent, then let them know in advance you plan to pursue this on your own and intend to sever your relationship. As @Ryan Murdock said, it'd be bad business to go behind agent's backs and you don't want the reputation of someone who would do such things.

@Jacob Barnhart what you could also do is reach out to the seller and see if you can reach a verbal agreement on financing and price and, if so, let them know you will be having your agent send them over a formal offer with all specifics including any contingencies you might need. If they don’t want to work through an agent let them know you are prepared to pay the buyer’s agent, if the price is right.

@Jacob Barnhart No, it is not disrespectful. As the buyer, you are not paying a sales commission. The seller will pay your agent in the transaction because his agent will share the commission. You should not be concerned about their relationship.

That being said, even the worst agent in the world could have sold his house by now. He is obviously asking too much because at the right price, I would buy the house without ever seeing it. Price sells. 

You should be very happy that your financing fell through because you would have paid too much. 

You should contact the seller, ask them why the home has not sold. Also ask if the any other buyer's fell through and why (appraisal, inspection, etc). 

The house has been on the market 500+ days since your deal fell through? 

All the above is good and well, but what makes you think you know more about the Ins and outs, advantages and disadvantages, risks for a seller and how to mitigate them, than your agent does?

You are in a very fortunate position. You almost overpaid for a property and now you have second chance at it. Feel free to contact the seller directly, discuss how they reached their price and if seller financing is on the table. Just be aware that the seller has a contract with the listing agent. The listing agent may need to be paid according to their contract. But, maybe not so that could be a potential negotiating point when you meet with the seller. 

Broker/agent relationships are crucial.  If you have a good agent, they should be able to present anything to the seller or seller's agent as good or better than you can.  If they can't, search for another agent, don't use one, or simply ask the agents to allow you to speak with the owner.  It's easy to get caught in your own web when circumventing transaction facilitators in any forum, real estate or other.  I've learned the hard way to follow whatever path brought the deal, transaction, information, job candidate, opportunity, etc. your direction, even if it's more challenging or costs more.

If you had previously written on this property with your Realtor, then this Realtor has procuring cause to receive a commission in the event that you move forward to try again, even if you don't have a contract of representation with them.  Furthermore, by circumventing your agent, you only lose your representation, not save anything on commission as the Seller is most definitely under contract with HIS Realtor for the listing, and any sale would result in HIS Realtor collecting the entire commission, and because you cut your Realtor out, His Realtor wouldn't be required to offer a co-broke.  PLUS, you may find that your Realtor won't answer your calls after that.

I woudn't say that it CAN'T be done.  I am just saying that it's a pretty crappy business practice, and it probably won't turn out the way you think it will.

NOW, all that being said, there is nothing that says that a Buyer and a Seller can't get together and discuss their deal.  Agents are there to serve as representatives.  They are not there to prevent 2 willing parties from speaking.  Why not get your agent involved in bouncing ideas off of them first, and then plan a meeting TOGETHER to discuss terms with the Seller and His agent.  Sometimes this can be a productive way of coming to terms.

It was over 500 days ago.

Yes. I'm confident that this person can negotiate for themselves just as good as an agent could. 

My agent has it super easy. I literally do all the work and then notify her to write up the formal offer. I NEVER ask her to ask questions, negotiate, etc. I would bug her to death if that was the case. I like to look at a lot of properties and offer embarrassing low prices. 

There is no reason to go around a realtor ever. 

1. Find a good one and he/she will help you succeed as an investor. For years i had used the same realtor as a "buyer's agent" and he would lend me his commission toward the closing cost of the rental property we were closing on. I would give him a note at zero interest for 36months with monthly payments. Sort of like a car payment exempt the payment would come out of the cash-flow. After the fifth or sixth property he was getting close to $1000 per month from me, even in the snow storm when other realtors were getting 000.

 (ps to find a realtor who is flexible like the above,  does take some work, i called literally about 19 people and about 17 of them did think i was nuts one hang up on me and finally one said that he will lend me his commission if i buy all of my properties with his help.) 

2. Realtors are a tight community and if they find out that you try to "go around" someone good luck try to get on their list of potential buyers.....for "pocket listings"

Bad bad bad idea.

Good luck to you!

I know this is going to hurt a lot of feelings for you Realtors out there, but people don't really need you all anymore. Do people still use travel agents? No because with technology you can hop online, shop for deals, & see/book vacations yourself.

Well with realtor.com and zillow, trulia, etc.......I can hop on and check out all the available listings for myself. Why would I need to contact a realtor and wait for them to tell me about the place when I could just look for myself?

Maybe you all are more important in hot markets I don't know. In my area, its a waste of time. 

Originally posted by @Derek E.:

I know this is going to hurt a lot of feelings for you Realtors out there, but people don't really need you all anymore. Do people still use travel agents? No because with technology you can hop online, shop for deals, & see/book vacations yourself.

Well with realtor.com and zillow, trulia, etc.......I can hop on and check out all the available listings for myself. Why would I need to contact a realtor and wait for them to tell me about the place when I could just look for myself?

Maybe you all are more important in hot markets I don't know. In my area, its a waste of time. 

The agents and brokers many of us use bring properties that don't ever get listed...and, when there is a competitive bid situation and they are on your side, your chances improve exponentially.  Real estate investing is a relationship business and your team is important.

@Derek E. you obviously are not an experienced buyer. Yes, you can shop online, but the agent does so much more than show houses to the buyer.  And as a buyer, you are foolish if you don't use an agent in the transaction. BTW, it's usually at no cost to you, the buyer.

Originally posted by @Anthony Dooley :

@Derek E. you obviously are not an experienced buyer. Yes, you can shop online, but the agent does so much more than show houses to the buyer.  And as a buyer, you are foolish if you don't use an agent in the transaction. BTW, it's usually at no cost to you, the buyer.

You have no clue how experience or inexperienced I am. No reason to make blanket statements because I pointed out that I rarely use someone from your profession.


I'm well aware of how it works. I also said that possibly in a hot market it might be necessary, but for my area, its a complete waste of time. In bigger areas or hot market areas I could see it. Sorry, but realtors are not necessary everywhere. 

I do use a realtor to represent me if the seller is using a realtor and I have already negotiated things for the most part. At that time I will contact my realtor and ask her to write up a formal offer.


Tell me good sir, when was the last time you called a travel agent to book a vacation?

Derek, travel does not involve risking tens of thousands of dollars.  The comparison is not even closely related. I know you are not experienced because if you were, you would appreciate the value of a good Realtor. Hopefully,  you will use them in the future before you get screwed.

Too many people get rear-end hurt over the to agent or not to agent dilemma but truth is for every 1 effective agent there are 9 who have no clue what they are doing, and are more likely to cost the buyer money or waste their time.

If your agent doesn’t have local connections (handymen, plumbers, HVAC, multiple lenders, etc) knows the ins/outs of the local sales process, and any additional tricks/tips for negotiation then you’re not getting your moneys worth. Better off going on your own.

Originally posted by @Anthony Dooley :

Derek, travel does not involve risking tens of thousands of dollars.  The comparison is not even closely related. I know you are not experienced because if you were, you would appreciate the value of a good Realtor. Hopefully,  you will use them in the future before you get screwed.

What part of "I only use a Realtor when I need to" do you not understand? 


I'm not really concerned with what you think of my experience level. I'm experienced enough to know that I don't always need to waste my time with a realtor. 

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