Are You Working With Another Agent?

Real Estate Agent with Las Cruces Homes and Land

I'm seeing situations starting to pop up again in a lot of blogs around the internet.

Buyer calls an agent and asks them to show them a home. The agent asks THAT questions: "Are you working with an agent?" More times than not, the buyer responds with one of the following:

1. I am but my agent is on vacation/took the day off.
2. I am but my agent's office is alllllllllll the way across town and you're right next to that house.
3. I am but it's the weekend and I didn't want to bother him/her.
4. I am but your name came up next to the house so you can show it to me.
5. I am but ..... (fill in the blank).

If you're wondering why we ask - if you are working with another agent, you are contractually obligated to that agent. You have agreed to work with that agent to finding and purchasing your new home. If I were to jump in the middle of it, I would be in SERIOUS trouble with just about every single REALTOR® entity I'm associated with. I cannot legally help you.

A good agent will, in the case of their going on vacation or taking a day off, enlist the help of another agent in their office to cover clients while they are away. That agent can only be from their office...not a competing office. If your agent didn't give you the name of who is covering for them, call their office. If your agent didn't appoint anyone, someone from their office should be able to assist you.

Likewise, if you are doing an internet search via Zillow, Trulia, or other sites, agent names will pop up next to listings that are not associated with that listing. We agents buy advertising on these sites to be more prominent. Again, if you are working with an agent, you need to let that agent know that you are interested in the house. If you call me to see it or ask questions about it, I'm going to ask you THAT question and then refer you back to your agent.

There are a lot of legalities that come into play as a buyer's agent. The biggest one is stepping on another agent's toes. There is not one agent in this world that would do that. And, if there is - and you happen to run across them - turn around and go the other way. Quickly.


Re-Blogged 13 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Susan Emo 09/19/2012 04:41 AM
  2. Ginger Harper 09/19/2012 05:44 AM
  3. MikenMarie Edwards 09/19/2012 11:00 PM
  4. Karen Hurst 09/19/2012 11:01 PM
  5. Gloria Valvasori, Accredited Senior Agent 09/19/2012 11:13 PM
  6. Shelly Sierra 09/19/2012 11:34 PM
  7. Erica Ramus 09/20/2012 03:10 AM
  8. Karen Pannell 09/20/2012 03:53 AM
  9. Nancy Laswick 09/20/2012 06:16 AM
  10. Evelyn Kennedy 09/20/2012 08:28 AM
  11. MichelleCherie Carr Crowe Just Call...408-252-8900 09/25/2012 04:35 PM
  12. Winston Heverly 01/24/2013 09:34 PM
  13. Praful Thakkar 11/03/2016 05:02 PM
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Travis "the SOLD man" Parker; Associate Broker
iXL Real Estate-Wiregrasss\ - Enterprise, AL
email: / cell: 334-494-7846

Good post. As others here, I've been burned by the "working with _________, but you show me, and then I'll get MY agent to make the offer...." situation.

Sep 20, 2012 11:44 AM #152
Allyson Hoffman
RE/MAX Villager (Chicago North and North Suburbs Real Estate) - Barrington, IL
Making Today's Dreams Tomorrow's Reality!

Congratulations on a great post.  This is a rampant problem.  One thing I have learned to do that helps to quickly get to the truth most of the time is to NOT ask that prospect a yes or no question such as, "Are you working with an agent?"  I find it more effective to say something like, "What's the name of your agent so I can get that appointment arranged for you?"  Operating under the presumption that they have an agent generally leads to an honest answer or a statement that indicates they do not have an agent.  Seems to work fairly well this way that majority of the time!

Sep 20, 2012 12:12 PM #153
Susanne Brown
RE/MAX Realty 9 - Howell, NJ
I work hard to make real estate dreams come true!

Very thought provoking post!

When we get a call from a new buyer, even if we ask the right questions, we don't always get the truth.

I think that if you find out that the buyer is working with another agent after you have shown them a home that they want to write up, you have to make a choice.  Do you call that other agent and let them know that their customer strayed or do you just move forward and ignore the truth.

I choose to "play nice in the sand box".  My reputation with the public AND with my fellow agents is too important.  If the buyer tells me that they stopped using the original agent because they felt mistreated, then I strongly suggest that they call that agent and tell them that they no longer want to work with them.  I know that if I had done something to alienate my customer, I would want to know what it was so that I can learn from it but also so that I could stop wasting my time trying to find the right property for the buyer.

Love all the comments on this post!  Intersting to see the differences in the rules from state to state. But in the end, I want to sleep at night so I try to do what's right for each situation.




Sep 20, 2012 12:35 PM #154
Linda DeRusha
Coldwell Banker Advantage - Garner, NC
Broker/Realtor, ABR,ASP,CDPE


thanks for the great post! As agents, we always ask potential buyers if they are working with an agent, problem is buyers are not always truthful. No agent wants to waste her time showing homes to buyers who will use another agent to write up the offer. I think sometimes buyers do not understand how we get paid, and that we are just there for "the common good" and don't care if we make any money or not.

What can you do?

Linda DeRusha

Sep 20, 2012 12:53 PM #155
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

I had an agent call me and ask me about a property that I had sent his "client" information on.  It is not on the MLS.  (It is actually a property in escrow and the listing agent told me they are probably going to fall out and wanted to know if I had anyone to step in.)  I told him to take a hike.

Sep 20, 2012 01:21 PM #156
Larry Lawfer
YourStories Realty Group powered by Castles Unlimited® - Newton, MA
"I listen for a living." It's all about you.

I think if you are letting your exclusive clients wander around town without your help, you are not a good agent at all.  I make it a point to call the agent after I get one of these calls to let them know. Quite often they have no clue their client is making these calls. I always give the agent the benefit and try to find out.  You are so right that we can not assist clients who are signed with another agent, UNLESS that agent has asked us to. In our office we compensate each other for these kinds of showings, but that is not so in other offices.  Agents work with people who don't always tell them what they want and what they are doing. Check with the agent before jumping to conclusions

Sep 21, 2012 12:36 AM #157
Roianne Cox
Coldwell Banker Barbara Sue Seal Properties - Vancouver, WA

I struggled with the buyer broker agreement for a long time, I found it difficult to introduce to a client that I have just met but wanted to protect myself. So I have modified our buyer broker agreement somewhat so that it says only that the buyer agrees that should they decide to purchase a home that I have showed them that I am due the selling agent commission. I explain to them about buyer broker agreements as I go over it that I need to protect myself. I have never had a buyer try to go around me after signing this. I do not ask for a long term committment, I tell them that if they do not feel I am doing the job that they want me to do it is up to them to fire me and work with someone else, but I am still owed a commission on a home that I have showed them. Every buyer that I have asked has had no problem signing it, and I have never had to enforce it. It helps me get a buyer to make a mental committment to me.


Roianne Cox


Sep 21, 2012 01:31 AM #158
Karen Crowson
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Rancho Bernardo, CA
Your Agent for Change

" The biggest one is stepping on another agent's toes. There is not one agent in this world that would do that" . If that was the case, there wouldn't be so many procuring cause cases. Unfortunately, not everyone plays by the rules.

Sep 21, 2012 01:46 AM #159
JodiAnn Garone
Century 21 Action Plus Realty - Freehold, NJ
Bringing you Home!





What a fantastic post...I hope that you posted it to the public as weel as the activerain members. Here in New Jersey... I find this happening more and more during open houses. I usually take the time to show them the house because I have to work for my seller but I don't appreciate all the agents sending their clients with a card. Of course I want the home to sell but it takes me away from helping other buyers who may not have an agent. My only hope is that they repay the favor to one of my buyer clienrts who just walk into one of their open houses without me!



Sep 21, 2012 03:40 AM #160
Jenny Durling
L.A. Property Solutions - Los Angeles, CA
For Los Angeles real estate help 213-215-4758

There are some that call because they "dont want to bother  their agent" or "my agent is on vacation", but I think most of the time they really just don't understand how it all works. Online, any number of listings will pop up and 'appear' to be my listing. They call me for information, thinking they are 'helping' their agent or simply being proactive. I tell them they need to have their agent call the listing agent and that's it.  I've had some of my OWN clients set up appointments with other agents and then ask me if I would like to go along!  This after I've explained how it all works. Some buyers just want to do it all on their own and will let you know 'when they need you"!

Sep 21, 2012 11:53 AM #161
Steve Higgins
RE/MAX Kelowna - Kelowna, BC

Hi Emmary,

I don't think some clients realize that you don't get paid until the deal is done, so all the work you are doing and have done is free until you make that sale.

Sep 22, 2012 04:52 AM #162
Alesia Rapkin
Berkshire Hathaway Georgia Properties - Grayson, GA

Since I didn't read this until today I cannot catch up on 160+ entries though I will say that if they call on my listing then I consider it my responsibility to show them the house.  I do explain who represents who and that I cannot give them any advice.  If they go off the reservation and tell me all their secrets while in my listing well good for my client.

If it is not my listing then I won't touch it with a ten foot pole.

I hope I haven't repeated someone else's comment.

Sep 23, 2012 05:07 AM #163
MichelleCherie Carr Crowe Just Call...408-252-8900
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

Yes, and I'm the sure buyer's wife "doesn't understand him" too.

Sep 25, 2012 04:28 PM #164
Peggy Wester
Realty Executives Integrity - Grafton, WI
Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County

I came across this post via a reblog by Erica Ramus and had to chime in. :)

I just received a voicemail a couple of hours ago from an agent who said she took my buyers (who told her they are working with me) thru one of her listings. Apparently they were driving around a neighborhood they're interested in that this agent happens to live in, as well. They saw her outside and asked if she was possibly selling her house. "Nope, but I have one for sale just up the hill." And she took them thru. I am still trying to connect with them to find out why on earth they didn't call me (we've had this conversation in the past) but am stunned that the agent didn't back off and tell them to contact me. Stunned.

Sep 29, 2012 11:54 AM #165
Kevin Vitali
EXIT Realty- Massachusetts Short Sales & Residential Sales - Tewksbury, MA
Helping Massachusetts Home Buyers and Home Sellers

The big question is WHY DO THEY FEEL THEY CANNOT CALL THEIR AGENT, BOTHER THEIR AGENT OR CAN'T REACH THEIR AGENT? It boggles my mind.  I just had a buyer call me today asking to see one of my properties.  I asked him if he is working with an agent. The response was he hasn't returned my phone calls....!!


So I asked him straight up.... Do you expect your agent to receive a commission?  He said yes, it his borther in law.  I asked him why he thought he wasn't returning his phone call.  He said he had a full time job. 

Buying a home is serious business.  It is probably going to be your largest purchase ever, your largest asset in your life and be the place you spend over half your time. Take the time to find an agent that can truly help with the buying experience.

Oct 19, 2012 07:38 AM #166
Kasey & John Boles
Jon Gosche Real Estate, LLC - - Boise, ID
Boise & Meridian, ID Ada/Canyon/Gem/Boise Counties

3. I am but it's the weekend and I didn't want to bother him/her.

Oh my goodness....I totally have heard this too, but seriously, they don't want to bother him/her but they will bother me, a person that isn't working with them, nor will get paid for time spent?  That is their agents job.  If they dont' want to work weekends then they need to be in a different line of work.  -Kasey

Jan 13, 2013 12:21 PM #167
David Popoff
DMK Real Estate - Darien, CT
Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct

Emmary this is happening more and more, good reminder for us all.

Jan 24, 2013 10:10 PM #168
We Buy Houses Tucson AZ

i really appreciate with this post,thanks for sharing.

May 02, 2013 03:06 AM #169
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

I have learned that a buyer is going to do what a buyer is going to do!  No matter how well we communicate to them how the process works, some just don't get it. 

I have been a salesperson most of my life and always ask another if they are on commission so that when I buy, I make sure they get credit for the sale. 

Another good example is tipping the wait staff.  The same principle applies. 

May 03, 2013 05:47 AM #170
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

Great post - and still true now in 2016!!  I get these questions all of the time too and it drives me nuts!  I have learned that the best first question to ask is, "Who is your agent?"  Buyers have a tough time lying to that - they don't think that quickly.  But, it's SO easy to say "No" when the question that is posed is, "Are you working with an agent?"

Nov 05, 2016 02:17 PM #227
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Emmary Simpson

Serving Las Cruces, NM
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