You find the ideal home online. You look through all the beautiful pictures, just the right number of rooms, the schools are perfect for the children, the seller has done all the right upgrades and the price is right. This is the perfect home for you!  You reach out to your agent but no one answers. You leave a voicemail and send a text message. Still no response. So what do you do?

You decide to call another agent to set up a preview of  the property…in fact, you can see it that same day…but the first thing the new agent asks you is:

“Are You Currently Working with Another Agent?”

If that question has stumped you before, let me try and explain why that question is often the first one that comes up in the conversation.

I really wanted to make this blogpost as simple as possible, but these are really, really important things that should be done up front and will make for a good, peaceful, and long-term business relationship for all.

First and foremost, Real Estate agents try to adhere to the National Association of Realtors’ Code of Ethics.  Basically, this is a set of duties and responsibilities the agent has with the client, and some important do’s and don’ts describing the conduct and relationship of the agent with the general public.

But things get cloudy very quickly when the potential client needs help and decides to work with any Real Estate agent they can find to help them out.  More times than not, the potential client does not understand the process well enough to know how things should work.

Whose fault is that? Right…you guessed it.

Best practice for the Real Estate agent: when an agent and potential client agree to work together, the agent should explain as fully as possible the ‘agency relationship’. This includes things like:

  • what the agents’ primary role is and their duty to the client (agency relationship)
  • how the showing process works and why
  • how to contact the agent when you want to preview homes

After having that conversation and if the potential client agrees, confirm in writing that they reasonably understand the relationship and agreement.  There is a form for that, but it is rarely used because people are fearful of signing anything that looks like you need a lawyer to interpret (I am not a lawyer nor do I pretend to be one online or otherwise) and agents are afraid they will loose a potential client and thus a potential sale.  And so it becomes a relationship based on trust. However, it doesn’t always work out that way.

Another, very important reason Real Estate agents ask this question up front is because of a legal term called ‘procuring cause‘.  Simply spoken, there needs to be clear evidence of all the parties involved in the transaction from ‘start to finish’ to eliminate any disputes about who gets paid at the end of the potential transaction.  There are numerous references that explain ‘procuring cause’, so go look them up.

Best advice…if you are working with another agent, continue to do so. Most times it’s not urgent, and may not be possible to see the property that same day. Mention up front that you are working with another agent and let the agent decide what might be the next best thing to do.

If your primary agent has advised you who to contact in their absence, give them a call.

If on the other-hand, you are not happy with your current agent, you might want to inform them and work out that issue with them.

If you have more questions, send email to or call my office: 708-428-6312.


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