When does "working with an agent" really start?

6 Replies

Hi folks.  Question here regarding the meaning of working with an agent.  I'm looking to buy a condo/duplex, and searching sites like Zillow and Trulia there are going to be multiple agents advertised on each listing.  I know that real estate agents start blazing fumes when they hear a buyer is working with someone else, which I agree with, since why should the RE waste their time only to have the buyer turn around at the end after multiple calls, trips and spent time, and close with someone else.  However, how does a buyer answer the question of "Are you working with someone else?"  Let's say I called an RE to ask about a property and never went anywhere with it.  Does that mean I am technically working with that RE because I called him a few times and now have to stick with that RE forever?  Does working with someone mean I actually went with the RE to look at the property?  I'm in Philadelphia PA, and want to get to the bottom of this before doing anything.  If I want to buy a TV I can go to Best Buy, Walmart, etc. and no one will ever ask me if I'm working with anyone...but it's different for RE, so I'd like to know what that threshold is which differentiates a cold call from "working with someone".  Thanks in advance!

You seem to have a firm grasp on the idea that an agent does not want to spend a bunch of time with you if you are not exclusive with him/her.   If you want to call each listing agent, that's fine, but don't expect them to do much else than try to sell you their listing.   If you want a buyer's agent to work for you, it's like dating.  They commit time and expertise to you, and you commit to only "working with" them.  A buyer's agent will show you any house you want, regardless of who has it listed.  You benefit greatly from having a professional represent you and your best interest.  When you are working with an agent they might ask you to sign an agency document.  Our time is valuable, and we don't get paid anything unless we make a sale, so we don't want to waste our time (yes, it is a big waste of time!) showing buyers a bunch of properties only to have them call other agents.  So, you are only "working with" an agent when you decide.  Generally speaking, if an agent shows you more than one property, you should clearly communicate to the agent whether or not you are calling other agents.  Communication is key.  So, pick an agent that you trust and don't work with anyone else.  Ask family/friends/coworkers for recommendations, just like you would when hiring any other professional.

I agree with GH's post. I would also add that a great RE agent should be a major part of your team. I work with a great agent and he visits properties, runs comps, shoos me away from properties that I don't need to bother with and he has a great team behind him. (Yes that's you Anthony :) ). The agents all tend to know each other so when you do call to ask a question or two and you tell them who you're working with they are more receptive to you and then even more willing to work with your agent. Using the MLS is a tough way to find deals but they are occasionally there and of course you need to sell your property if you're a flipper or moving on from a held property. An RE agent who brings buyers is essential. I would say that any flipper should have a team they work with and an RE agent should be of primary importance. Make sure you interview a couple of RE's if you have to but a great agent does so much more than I listed above I don't know what I would do without the expertise.GS

Thanks, I understand.  I'm all about transparency as well, why play games with people, karma kicks in one way or the other :)

@Alexander Morgovsky , Depending on how active YOU want to be, I would think that as a BUYER, you should not need to apologize for telling Agents that you would work with any other Agent as well - depending on what deals they will be bringing to your attention. But then, perhaps ensure each of them know that you would use THEM for any follow-up re-sale of said properties!?

Because, it works both ways. Why should you want to deal with Agents who expect you to be "faithful" to them only (regardless of the fact that no individual Agent can find ALL the deals that you might want to consider)!?

But I certainly agree, "why should the RE waste their time only to have the buyer turn around at the end after multiple calls, trips and spent time, and close (on those same properties) with someone else"(?) Don't be doing that! 

[I have no knowledge of how contracts with Buyer's Agents work, so my comments can certainly be ignored if inappropriate]. Cheers...

it doesn't really start when you sign a contract with that agent to officially represent you in a sale or buy transaction.

with that said, the rule of thumb is to respect everybody time and you will do just fine. Realtor needs to feed their family, and more than likely they are busy buying their own investment properties as well. I love to help people out as much as i could but could not afford to waste time go look at 30 houses with a client if I know that client is not ready to buy.

Good luck!

All good points..It's not a black and white situation, definitely a lot of gray in there.  Thanks for the feedback.

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