How do you answer “Are you working with an agent?”

April 1, 2013
How do you answer “are you working with an agent”?

Active buyers who spend their Sunday afternoons visiting open houses know the question well. “Are you working with an agent?” This is the common question that is posed to buyers by the real estate agent who is hosting the open house.

How do you as a buyer answer that question?

What does it mean?

To an agent, that question means roughly “are you a buyer that I can “take on” as a customer or are you already “taken” and working with another agent”. But for a buyer, the answer to that question may be complicated. You may have a family friend that is an agent or you already have a couple of agents sending you automated emails of properties or you may have toured some homes with an agent but never signed a contract with them called Buyer Agency. (I’ll talk about Buyer Agency in a future post.) Are you “working” with any of them? I would say that you are “working with” the agent with whom you have toured homes. I do not believe that you are “working with” an agent until you have physically met with them to talk about homes (outside of an open house setting). Once that physical meeting happens, whether that is at the agent’s office, a coffee shop, or on a tour of homes, I believe a relationship is established and that relationship needs to be recognized and honored.

If you have physically met with multiple agents, you need to settle on one of them fairly quickly. Why? Because of how agents are paid. We are paid on commission and the rule concerning that is whomever is able to present the seller with a ready, willing and able buyer is the one who gets paid at closing (in addition to the listing agent, of course). If you have seen the same house with a couple different agents (again, outside of an open house), which one gets paid after you close on the house? Sometimes that answer is not clear if the buyer has not been clear as to whom is their real estate agent.

I know what you’re saying: “Why do I care about how you are paid? As long as I get into the home that I want, I’m happy.” Believe me, my goal is your goal. I want to see all of my customers and clients happy in the end in their new homes. If you are asking an agent to spend hours with you every other weekend touring homes all over the county, you should honor their dedication to your relationship and eventual happiness by taking the simple steps you can take to make sure that your agent is eventually paid for their services. Their dedication and service is free to you, the seller pays for it in most cases, so why not do everything you can to ensure they see the compensation they have earned.

In an open house, when an agent asks you, “Are you working with an agent?”, tell them exactly what type of relationship you have with an agent (don’t have one, know someone but haven’t spoken with them yet, automated emails only, toured homes together, signed Buyer Agency, etc). If you don’t have a relationship with an agent that goes beyond the computer screen, then feel free to spend a moment with the open house agent to find out if this person is the right one with whom to develop a relationship. In this changing market, it is important for all buyers to have an advocate to help them through the home buying process, even if they’ve done it before.

Have any comments? Please leave them for me! Whether you are a seller or buyer, if you would like a personal real estate consultation, please contact me. Click here for my website. And please remember to subscribe to my blog. Allow me to help you navigate the kettles and hills of real estate. –

First Weber West Bend office

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