An "I am working with an agent" story.

Real Estate Broker/Owner CA#01772851 HI#RB21268

Buyers have been calling me right and left to view homes in Carmel Valley and I try to accommodate them even on short notice.

Yesterday was one of those days. I was meeting a buyer at a home listed by someone else, it was empty, so we could go in any time. Which was good because I was meeting another buyer deeper in the valley and they got stuck in traffic at Highway 1. You see, the Big Sur Marathon is happening today, Sunday, and thousands of people come for the weekend clogging up streets. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and that brings many additional people to the coast. All those and our normal visitors and residents. You get the picture.

So for this first showing of a house also listed by someone else, I was meeting the buyer during an "open house". As it turned out, because of the delays,  we ended up having the home to ourselves. Lucky for us, the sellers showed up to "reclaim" their house after the open house, and answered a lot of my clients questions.

But all the while I sneaked peeks at my phone to check on the time because of my other viewing. I am nothing but mindful of others' time. On the other hand, I absolutely did not want to rush this showing. The buyers loved the property!

After we left, I texted buyer #2 that I was on my way, all the while rethinking future scheduling of more than one buyer in an afternoon. But the market is hot right now, listing agents are holding open houses, and I want to be with my clients whenever possible when they view the homes.

So how do other agents handle it?

Well, I found out with buyer #2. They came down from San Francisco, viewing homes all along the Monterey Bay area. When they stopped off in Santa Cruz, they came across an agent who gave them a bunch of business cards and advised them to show one to me (and others along the way, I presume), and to tell me "WE HAVE AN AGENT". This agent is part of a franchise that also has an office on Monterey County - for what that is worth.

How did this unfold?

Having gone from "no agent" that morning when they called me for a last minute viewing of a home, to "we have an agent" standing in the home I was showing them, put me in a quandary of "ethics" we REALTORS live by. And which I explained to them.

First and foremost, I did not answer any questions about the property that was not on the MLS. For example, I did not answer any questions about the development or what the HOA "pet policies" were. In fact, it became somewhat awkward, but I had to explain that for "liability" purposes I could not treat them as I would a client.

But it was a learning experience for me and I am still thinking about how I would handle this in the future. And, although I let the buyers walk around the property on their own this time, I am not sure I would do this in the future. Or would I? This is one that I am going to check out with my insurance company as well as my lawyer.

Last thoughts:

It is pretty common in our business to give cards to OUR CLIENTS if they are going to "open houses" on their own. But not to call buyers agents for viewings and pull out that card.

Yes, in many areas you, the agent, meets the clients first, talk about their criteria, etc.

But in our market, buyers come for weekends and are looking around on their own quite a bit. We have "open houses" galore. Buyers might take a chance to see those, but how about buyers who have done research and want to see specific homes? Those homes that do not have an "open house" the weekend they are there? These buyers, like this couple, often reach out to agents like me.

PS. Our market is upscale, you can hardly find anything between $500,000 and $1,000,000 so the question "are you pre approved for a loan" is not a question I would normally ask either. Although I do have a way of getting financial information out of them during our discussion before I will "open the door".

One thing I will continue to ask is "are you working with an agent" -- and I will probably reaffirm this just before opening the door for the showing!!



Posted by

Hella Rothwell at Carmel Beach during Concours WeekCarmel-by-the-Sea Beach and Pebble Beach Golf Course California

Whether buying or selling oceanfront, oceanview, commercial or any type of real estate in Carmel, Pebble Beach, Pacific Grove, Monterey, Carmel Valley and Big Sur, I can help you. Call me and let's meet in my Carmel-by-the-Sea office in Su Vecino Court on Dolores between 5th & 6th.

Or we can just chat on the phone to discuss your real estate needs.

Are you out of the area? No problem, I often never even meet my clients. The whole transaction is handled long distance.

As an independent real estate broker licensed in California and Hawaii, I can represent you with residential real estate, commercial properties & investment opportunities.

For more information &


Member: National Association of REALTORS, California Association of REALTORS, Hawaii Association of REALTORS, Del Norte Association of REALTORS, Honolulu Board of REALTORS. Also MLS Listings in California.


Hella Mitschke Rothwell (R)

Real Estate Broker/Owner/Realtor®
Licensed in California #01772851 & Hawaii #RB-21268

Tel. 831-626-4000 

Fax 1-877-822-9332

ROTHWELL REALTY INC.: Su Vecino Court, Lincoln & Dolores between 5th & 6th, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921


MAILING: P.O. Box 4554, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921


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Disclaimer: Hella Rothwell does not guarantee nor is in any way responsible for the accuracy of the information provided herein, and provides said information without warranties of any kind, either expressed or implied.


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Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

In this situation I believe silence is golden. I don't think an agency relationship existed and when they're looking for answers and agency is better defined the understanding definitely shifts to your favor. Nicely done Hella!   

Apr 30, 2018 09:50 AM #22
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

So frustrating that these people did not mention they were represented and probably don't really think they are.

When I meet people at homes I always mirandize them as I call the consumer notice. These are your legal rights, often they admit they have seen cou ntless homes and no one has mentioned or informaed them of their rights and who is representing whom in the transaction. Some continue to work with me, those who just want someone to open the door usually don't.

I had an agent showing someone a house I had open this Sunday and noticed as he walked out the door he thrust his card in the hands of a young couple who had just walked in. As he was leaving I did not say anything, but the end story was this young couple bought the house and were already represented by their own agent. Not sure what they thought about a strange agent thrusting his card into their hands.

Apr 30, 2018 10:03 AM #23
Jonathan Bowen
Hub Edge Realty - Stoughton, MA
Advice. Education. Guidance.

You have an agent? That agent should be here showing you this property. Bye!

Apr 30, 2018 10:07 AM #24
James Grant
Asheville, NC

Hello Hella, Thanks for sharing your experience. Actually, we have all encountered the same situation. And they missed out someone who will represent them, someone who is honest. 

Apr 30, 2018 10:17 AM #25
Linda Metallo DiBenardo
RE/MAX Impact, Lockport, Illinois - Lockport, IL

I see this all the time.   Agents send buyers to look at homes on their own with instructions to "call me when you find one you want to make an offer on.

Apr 30, 2018 02:01 PM #26
Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886
Phoenix Property Shoppe - Phoenix, AZ
Arizona's Top Banana!

Well these folks thought lying to you was the right thing to do.....and obviously they're going to get what they pay for in the long run.  As for the other agents tactics.....there are no words for that type of poor service to people.

Apr 30, 2018 02:39 PM #27
Helen Luna Fess
Don Watson Realty LLC - Honolulu, HI
Linking to community, source for Sellers and Buyer

Dear Carmel Valley Realtor: I don’t think there’s any question about your ethics and in fact a question circles around two what about the ethics of the other realtor who horn in on someone you were already working with. Maybe it’s time to clarify that sort of vommon situation from within your MLS nembership..
Just saying ... yours us a good question and requires a formal answer .

Apr 30, 2018 05:48 PM #28
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

You handled the situation professionally.  I would have also added that if they were truly "represented", their AGENT should be showing them all of the properties they want to see and contacting the other agents like yourself to let them know that your services are no longer needed.  Best of luck to them!

Apr 30, 2018 08:24 PM #29
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I think that agent was a snake... and that the buyers who didn't see right through it deserve what they get. Hopefully the next agents they try to use won't be as polite and kind as you were. They'll say "Oh, you have an agent. Then you need to make an appointment with that agent."

Apr 30, 2018 08:42 PM #30
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

We agree with Marte Cliff ...Buyers should one works for nothing..!

May 01, 2018 02:42 AM #31
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

This is not an uncommon situation.

I am surprised that agents do not feel the need to use the Buyer Agent Agreement.

It is the consumer that is caught in the middle and gets under-served.

Thanks for sharing your story.

May 01, 2018 04:25 AM #33
Dana Basiliere
Rossi & Riina Real Estate - Williston, VT
Making deals "Happen"

If they purchase the property you are procuring cause  If they have a buyer broker agreement with the other agent you can get a referral at the very least. If they don't have a buyer broker agreement then they are free to sign up with you or be a buyer customer.  That hand full of cards trick does not fly unless they have a buyer broker agreement.

May 01, 2018 06:20 AM #34
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

I don't ask if they are working with an agent. Yes, you heard that right, Hella. For one thing, it's too easy to say no when they mean yes. Also, if they don't have an agent, they might feel inadequate, as though they should, so they will say yes when they mean no. Badly worded question.

Much better to ask: Would you like to work with an agent?

Followed by: You realize if I show you this property, I am representing you, right, and you cannot hire another agent?

Just put it out there upfront and center.

May 01, 2018 09:26 AM #35
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Interesting, we've had two like this happen this week, or similar. The couples said they weren't working with an agent - " at this time. " By the time, we showed them the homes, they had an agent. Since both appointments were at  7:00PM on week nights, we assume their agents didn't want to show the homes - too late for them.  And both properties took about 40 minutes to get to - needless to say, we want to avoid it too, in the future, just not sure how to proceed. 


PS, I think Elizabeth just gave me an idea. :) 

May 01, 2018 09:30 AM #36
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

First of all, you are fortunate to sell real estate in such a beautiful area of the USA!  Second, that agent who gave the buyers all the biz cards...that was a super agressive move, one I would not have made as I'm not so pushy.  Thanks for posting, food for thought.

May 01, 2018 06:52 PM #37
Karen Ann Martin
Safe Harbor Realty - Westport, MA
Realtor Fall River Westport MA Real Estate Agent

 Update please Hella   What did your Attorney and insurance co. advise  ?  

May 06, 2018 03:54 PM #38
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor® - The tides are turning for how we do business and there are still rules and ethics to think about too. The world is changing....

You were right in being cautious. I was glad to see this one featured. To be blindsighted like this doesn't give you much time to think. I thought you handled it with caution and you were cognizant of what you were doing. We must pay attention to our feelings. Your antennas were up and you handled it like a pro. 

This blog post was definitely feature worthy!

But how are things for you in Hawaii? I'm not familiar with the Island and have limited knowledge. The situation has me worried. I hope all is well. 


May 07, 2018 04:46 AM #39
Lynnea Miller
Bend Premier Real Estate - Bend, OR
Premier Real Estate Service in Central Oregon

Get a buyer's service agreement.  If they are in contract with you, no one can "poach" them without violating the contract and all realtor code of ethics rules as well.

May 11, 2018 09:51 PM #40
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

Our Code of Ethics requires this question to be asked. Besides it is just a good business practice to follow.

May 11, 2018 10:09 PM #41
Curtis Van Carter
Better Homes & Gardens Wine Country Group - Yountville, CA
Your Napa Valley Broker Extraordinaire


I enjoyed reading this well written post. thanks for the follow and cheers cvc

May 13, 2018 09:28 AM #42
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Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®

Rothwell Realty Inc. CA#01968433 Carmel-by-the-Sea
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