Profile picture for azhomebuyer2010

Is it okay to enlist the help of more than one agent when you are looking to buy?

  • April 19 2010 - Phoenix
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Be a Good Neighbor. Be respectful and on-topic. No spam or self-promotion! See our Good Neighbor Policy.

Answers (26)

jkonstant and sunnyview have their opinions on Buyer Rep agreements and I have mine.  I have two primary arguments to support my position:
1. The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) is a governmental department having a primary charter to protect the CONSUMER (and decidely not the agent), and they,with their collective wisdom, legal staffs, economists, and decades of wisdom, RECOMMEND buyer rep agreements.
2.  I have 16 years of fairly active experience that tells me the same exact thing; the consumer is better off with a rep agreement.

In my own tiny sample of statistical awareness which comes from my own tiny set of experiences, I know that I can better serve a buyer as a client, rather than a mere customer.  I freely show clients unlisted properties, FSBO's, upoming properties, builder's models and all the rest.

For further "proof", at least in Texas, if an agent behaves as though there is a representative relationship between himself and a consumer (such as giving advice), then the consumer could sue the agent for misrepresentation even if the consumer bought through someone else.  Yes, you can establish a relationship by behavior alone.
  • May 12 2010
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The assertion that BA agreements are advantageous or necessary is nothing more than opinion. There are no factual benefits to the consmer. There are no guarantees of performance standards and if properly explained, dismiss the also untrue argument that buyer's agency is free to the consumer.

Maybe I'm more cynical, less trusting of the "system" or more confident in my abiltiy to perform, but the concept of buyers agency, while in principal sounds good, I am skeptical of the real intent or true purpose.

It is simply untrue that an agent can automatically better represent an individual, regardless of educational hours or years of practice. I find it a little "holier than thou" to suggest the consumer is that incompetent.

The repeated use of fear and caution to the public that somehow going to the listing agent is a guarantee that you will be ripped off or be at a disadvantage is not only insulting, it is a terrible abuse of position at the expense of the industry as a whole. Buyer's want to buy from sellers who want to sell. Creating an unnecessary fear is bad business.

I have always believed that BA has been pushed as a means of growing the rank of dues paying members. More agents means more money for the NAR and it's many, many little AR's across the country.

Now, a good buyer's agent can be invaluable, but not for the reasons so often used nor with the signing of a contract. If fear of the listing agent is to remain the battle cry of buyer's agents, then it only seems fair to remind the public of the failure of buyer's agents to protect their clients interest as the market spun out of control just a few years ago.

  • May 07 2010
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Profile picture for sunnyview
"I know that it can be easily cancelled if the agent does not perform."

If this were true, then maybe I could be less negative about buyers agreement. However, it is often NOT true and dissatisfied buyers find themselves in the unenviable position of arguing with and generally staying with an agent that is not performing. Often, the best they can hope for if their agent is bad is getting transferred to another agent from the same office. A buyers agreement does NOTHING to guarantee you a good or competent agent so why would any buyer sign one? They can be a nightmare with no defined benefits to the buyer.

"If you find an agent who has the smarts to insist on an agreement you are one step closer to being sure you have a good agent."

This is simply not true. If you find an agent that asks you to sign an agreement, all you have found is an agent that is unsure of their ability to keep you satisfied as a client. The agent is asking you for a legal hammer to use to keep you with tied to them until you buy or give up trying. Good agents rarely have clients dump them before a purchase. It happens less than a women dumping her OBGYN a month before the delivery. Most people stick with what works. If they have a good agent, they are happy to recommend them, refer them and stick with them until they buy or sell. A contract is not necessary because satisfied clients don't two time good agents.
  • May 06 2010
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Profile picture for mr1099
As a buyer - you would be crazy not to. 
  • May 06 2010
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Good relationships produce good results.

You certainly can use multiple agents because many are unskilled at using representation agreements, which in fact do benefit the buyer.  So, right off the bat,  if you're working without an agreement there is a good chance you are working with an unskilled agent.

In Texas, the state real estate commission RECOMMENDS representation agreements to buyers and it does so right on the mandatory form we are supposed to hand to prospects at our first substantial meeting. 

The state is correct in its recommendation and if you find an agent who has the smarts to insist on an agreement you are one step closer to being sure you have a good agent.

I've been an agent for 15 years and would myself insist on a buyer rep agreement if I were to be buying a property outside of my license area.  I know that it can be easily cancelled if the agent does not perform.  I also know the agent owes me his loyalty, and can also freely show me unlisted properties and FSBOs.

The public should know that there are vast inter-state differences in real estate licensing laws and the required education to obtain a license.  Texas has the most detailed requirments in the country, with 210 hours (seven, 30-hour courses) for saleperson and 960 hours (thirty two, 30 hour courses) for broker licenses. There are many states requiring 20 to 60 hours for a salesperson license, and I presume that is where some of the commentors here hail from - they decidedly DO NOT understand agency responsibilities.  They seem to think the word "fiduciary" is some sort of nautical term.

I am far from perfect, but I am damn happy to be a Texas licensee, with at least SOME decent education.
  • May 06 2010
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I'm completely with sunnyview on the issue of buyer's agency contracts. I am particularly supportive of the fact that the piece of paper fails to guarantee and prefer to advise all buyer clients to keep things to themselves. I do not want to know what I don't need to know. This way I can never let spill, accidentally or intentionally what I should not.

In addition, it can take a while before an agent realizes they have a loser for a buyer client. Why on earth would any agent bind themselves this way?
  • May 06 2010
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Why would you wish to do this?  If you know that area where you want to look, an agent can set you up on a search which will let you know what is currently available in that area.  We can also notify you when a new listing comes on the market in that area.  As long as you pick one dedicated agent and let them know exactly what you are looking for, you should be fine.  Good luck!

Kathy DeAngelis
Realty Executives
  • May 06 2010
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Profile picture for sunnyview
"As my client, I only represent you in a transaction.  What you tell me becomes confidential information that I can not share with a seller/seller's agent." 

"I will show the house, but am prevented from giving you advice."

These statements are false in my opinion. A buyers agreement does not guarantee that you will not pass information to the sellers agent any more than the basic licensing requirements in most states do. If this was the case, penalties for doing so would be spelled out in the buyers agreement that buyers are pressured to sign. It is not. There are no penalties for the agent other than a trip to the local realtor board if they fail to do their job. The agents write those agreements to benefit them exclusively. If agents want people to sign, then give them some benefit like tangible guarantees in writing about what monetary penalties the agent agrees to pay if they fail to do their job as promised.

Agents give advice all the time. That's one of the things they are hired for. Some of the advice is good, some not so good, but a buyers agreement does little or nothing to improve the quality of the advice given. Saying that you won't give advice without a contract is your perogative as a professional, but there are other agents who operate just fine without holding a contract over their clients head. Instead they choose to bind their clients to them with hard work, honesty and solid professional service. To each his own.
  • May 04 2010
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Profile picture for Laura Dobbins
The short answer is "no", but it helps to listen to several of the key reasons.  There are benefits to both you and the agent when the relationship is defined and documented.  Since your agent is paid by the seller through a selling commission, it is critical that you know how you are being represented in the deal.  There are legal issues that become defined when a Buyer Broker Agreement is signed.

What is the benefit to you?  When you sign a Buyer Broker Agreement with an agent, you become a client of that agent, as opposed to a customer.  This is an important distinction.  As my client, I only represent you in a transaction.  What you tell me becomes confidential information that I can not share with a seller/seller's agent.  I can make suggestions to you and give you advice; I can share information that I learn about a property or the seller's situation that may not be publicly known.  Even though I am paid by the seller through a portion of the selling commission, I only represent you in a transaction and you have my full loyalty that I am working only in YOUR BEST INTEREST as required by law.

Otherwise, you are only my customer.  I am paid by the seller and therefore will not disclose to you anything I find out that is not publicly known.  I will show the house, but am prevented from giving you advice.  I will fill out any forms as you direct me, but will not offer suggestions as to how to make the offer more to your benefit.  I may or may not have your best interest in the deal.

Obviously, I benefit by being assured that the countless hours that I spend showing you homes, researching, negotiating, etc. will pay off eventually in the form of a commission check from a seller.  You do yourself and your agent a disservice when you spend time with one agent and then have someone else prepare the offer and receive the commission.

That being said, you should spend a little (not a lot) of time first with an agent and make sure you trust the way they operate before signing a contract.  Interview them, ask for referrals, have them show you a house - whatever you need to feel comfortable with them.  Then, be prepared to move forward as their client.
  • May 04 2010
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Profile picture for sunnyview
"I always offer my clients one interview and one home tour for them to decide if they will make a commitment to work exclusively with me. Whenever possible I have them sign a Buyer Agency agreement, putting it in writing."

Lovely, but meaningless. Agent relationships mirror other relationships in general. In the beginning, they are hearts and flowers. When they are good they are very,very good, but when they are bad they are horrible. Signing an exclusive agreement means that buyers are tied to that agent whether the agent performs or not. They are hard to terminate in many cases even with cause and can be used to force a client to stay with an incompetent agent. Clients who are satisfied with their agent don't cheat so a gentleman's agreement for representation should suffice. Exclusive buyers agent agreements benefit ONLY the agent that asks for them to be signed, not the client. In most cases, buyers are better off finding ONE competent agent to represent them unless they intend to go straight to the listing agent for every deal themselves.
  • May 04 2010
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Here's the quick answer: NO
  • May 04 2010
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The answers so far are missing one key point: real estate agents work on commission, which is not paid until a home changes ownership. Therefore, we rely on the loyalty of our clients, and do a considerable amount of work, without being sure we will get paid in the end.

Consider if you needed a builder or a lawyer or some specialized surgery done. All these professionals would insist on knowing they will be paid, and how, and when, often with money put up front to ensure your "good faith."

As a home buyer, you want to know your agent will do a good job for you before you make a commitment to work with her or him. I always offer my clients one interview and one home tour for them to decide if they will make a commitment to work exclusively with me. Whenever possible I have them sign a Buyer Agency agreement, putting it in writing.  Remember that every agent has access to all the listings on the MLS, so there is no advantage to you, and many disadvantages, in trying to work with more than one agent. You can't do that as a seller, why should it be any different as a Buyer?

I forsee a time when Buyers will indeed pay for their agent's services directly. You already pay indirectly, since the home price includes commission. You may as well make that money worth it, and get one agent who will do a good job for you.
  • May 04 2010
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Both you and your agent should be committed to each other. Buying a home is a process and you'll need your agent to take you through it. And that take commitment on both sides. You may be looking for a property in another area that your agent may not be familiar with, so enlisting an agent who's an expert in that other area may be a good idea. But, be sure to talk to your agent first. I'm sure they can refer you to someone who will get the job done for you.

Find an agent who's right for you, and keep the communications going. It'll all work out to your benefit. 
  • May 04 2010
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It depends...do you think you will be at the top of an agent's list of buyers when "hot deals" are about to come on the market, or will they call the buyer's who are committed to them? It's like a lot of realtionships in life - do you commit or play the field? As in life... it depends on the depth you want.

In such an important transaction, as a buyer, I'd want someone who is comitted to me - and that generally requires reciprocity.

I say interview hard and find the right agent.
  • May 04 2010
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Profile picture for EasterjdlkStephanie
It might be that you could pick and pay a fee for just the services you require as a buyer (this would allow working with the best agent for any given transaction), or you could go with a retainer arrangement (contract might be $X for Y showings, and Z offers, and professional support through the close process).  Or if the agents truly feel they have to have a variable compensation schedule, X% of the price they can negotiate below appraisal (which would hopefully lead to a similar clause in sellers agent contracts and quickly negate itself).
  • April 24 2010
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Yes, it is okay, but make sure you find someone you can develop a relationship with and stick with them, unless you break them up by territory, or niche-experience, etc.

We work very hard to represent you, and we look for clients who offer the same respect and loyalty throughout the process.
  • April 24 2010
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Profile picture for hpvanc
I think the original question and certainly the answers by real estate agents point to a major problem in how buyers agents are compensated, and leads directly into a discussion on why they aren't respected as professionals. 

Unfortunately the system has been rigged with a 3rd party payer phenomenon.   Where the seller is forced to include the full commission in their contract with the listing agent, or the buyers agents won't bring buyers.   The buyers then loose the ability to uphold their all of their duties in a capitalist system of evaluating and picking the best value for services rendered, and keeping the market in balance. 

If we were to change the common practice to where the buyer could if they were working with professionals that get paid by the ultimate user because there is a clear value to their service.  It might be that you could pick and pay a fee for just the services you require as a buyer (this would allow working with the best agent for any given transaction), or you could go with a retainer arrangement (contract might be $X for Y showings, and Z offers, and professional support through the close process).  Or if the agents truly feel they have to have a variable compensation schedule, X% of the price they can negotiate below appraisal (which would hopefully lead to a similar clause in sellers agent contracts and quickly negate itself).

In a structure where capitalism is allowed to prevail agents would have to act as professionals and demonstrate clear value of their services, and buyers would be able to select the best solution for any given situation, which would definitely include the ability to work directly with the seller or sellers agent, if buyers agents are unable to prove that their services have value over time.  Under the current common practice agents have been able to pervert the system so that buyers cannot uphold their duties in properly pricing a service under capitalism.  As a result some of them are able to remain in business by using emotion to manipulate perceptions (like a common hustler, con artist, highway man, or etc).  As a result they have been unable to act as professionals by demonstrating true value, to secure their income from the users of their services.  Many agents are working for sellers in general but not for buyers when they claim to be a buyers agent.
  • April 20 2010
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If you're looking in non-competing areas, you will have to enlist more than one agent, however if you're looking in the same area, you should pick the best agent and one you're most comfortable with.
If an Agent/Broker knows you are working with another agent at the same time, you will receive less than excellent service.
Think about it, an agent will search high and low, through the MLS and through other sources to find you the right home. They will help you with financing sources, inspections, title work, negotiations, consulting, pointing out features you may not realize, know the neighborhoods and areas, point out area amenities, know hospitals, shopping, dining, sports and events, trends, market values etc.
I could go on however you get the point. It's allot of work and they will be loyal to you if they represent you as a buyer's agent.
Don't you think your loyalty in return is worth it?
Stick with one as long as they are doing a good job.
Good Luck!
Bill Hoyle
The According To Hoyle Group
Sun Realty
SW Florida
[link removed by moderator]
  • April 20 2010
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Profile picture for dacolan
Ask yourself, would I want to work for 6 months for free?

I thought buyers agents meant to convince us their services were free to buyers they represent. After all, it's the seller that pays the agents commissions...

(For the record, that is sarcasm. I just tire of the worn out NAR sales tactic that working with a REA is free for buyers.)
  • April 20 2010
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Profile picture for SoCal Engr

If you are looking in two seperate geographic areas, then you could consider using 2 agents, one specializing in each area. However, I would not recommend 2 agents for the same area.

So, the real question is..."Why do you want to consider two agents?" If you do your homework well, a single agent should do in most cases.

  • April 20 2010
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According to the respones so far, no. In truth, you certainly can. Before you consider this you should ask yourself why would you need more than one agent? If, for example, you would be looking in the DC metro area where DC, Maryland or Virginia would work, then sure as licensing and geographic challenges might be cause to have a couple working for you in different areas. In addition, many excellent agents not only focus on smaller geopgraphic areas, some are condo experts while others might best be utilized for single family homes. Some agents are worthless when it comes to "land only" sales.

The answer to your question should be maybe, it depends.

  • April 20 2010
  • 1Yes

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At least give the agent a choice from the very beginning to work with you or not by being honest and telling them that you are not planning on using them exclusively. I don't ask my buyers to sign a buyer's rep agreement (usually) b/c I would like to think my service, knowledge and dedication will be enough to keep them loyal. (call me idealistic!) There's nothing worse than working w/a buyer, sending him info about a home, trying to set up a time to see it with him and then have him call the listing agent and skip you all together.
  • April 19 2010
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Please don't...

I just had this experience happen to me!

Ask yourself, would I want to work for 6 months for free?

I had been working with my clients for 6 months!  Then she emails me and let's me know that they are closing on their new purchase with another agent.

She was two timing me, and didn't tell me. 

I was really hurt and dissapointed for all of the time and energy I put into trying to find them a home.

All of us agents work from the same well- the MLS.  Just be honest and only work with one agent.
  • April 19 2010
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That would be a question to ask the agent or agents you plan on working with. Essentially, you are hiring people to perform a job for you. Some agents may take the job under those conditions while others would not.

I know few top agents who would take your offer, however, that does not mean you can't ask and make that a condition of your deal. As they say, most everything in real estate is negotiable.

By the way, we would be in the group that says no thank you and best of luck on your journey.

  • April 19 2010
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NO IT'S NOT OKAY!!!!!! There is nothing worst then dealing with a client that is using multiple agents.  This is how we make a living pick one agent and stick with them.  Don't call off signs out in front of homes and speak with listing agents, call your agent with the home's info.  Remember as a buyer you don't pay your agent anything for your agent to run you all over the place.  If for some reason your unhappy with your agent, then fire them, but definately don't undermine the work they have done for you by using another agent.
  • April 19 2010
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It's not okay if you don't tell the other agent. I would never want to work with a client that didn't tell me they were using more than one agent.

That's my personal opinion.

Other agents might be fine with that, but the fact is you're using an agents time and hard effort to locate a property. Only to be communicating with another agent that you don't like a certain type of property or you would like to change your search criteria. Meanwhile, the other agent doesn't have a clue about these changes or doesn't ever get to understand your ideal type of property.

Being upfront is the best approach, but don't be surprised if an agent fires you because they don't want to waste their time.

Dan Reynolds
Designated Broker
Broker Executives, Inc.
  • April 19 2010
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