Life...Fun and Kentucky Real Estate


Q & A - Unrepresented Buyers Calling Listing Agents To View Homes and Touring Open Houses

One of my clients that is now a dear friend wanted me to write about this because new buyers just don't know what really goes on behind the scenes with agents and their commissions.

Dear Lizette,

My wife and I are just now getting in the mood to look for a new home. After researching some on the Internet we have found a few homes that meet our needs. We really liked one of the homes and called the listing agent to go take a look. She met us there and we now want to put our home on the market because we want this one we toured. We have also gone to a few open houses. Also, we would like you to list our home and represent us in negotiating the contract on the new one. Can you help us? Rob & Jenny


Dear Rob & Jenny,

Thanks so much for emailing me. I'd love to assist you with the sale of your home. I do wish you would have called me before going to look at the home with a listing agent. This presents a problem that she was the one that showed it to you. When you want to be represented, your agent must show you the home. 

It's a bit sticky also when you go to open houses and the listing agent shows you the home. It seems innocent enough.

Lizette Realty 859-979-2834Buyers do need their own representation to get the best deal in negotiations. When you sign in at an open house without your agent, be sure to tell the hostess that you are working with someone.

This prevents problems for you and your agent later. Even if you haven't picked someone yet to help you just stay neutral about it till you get the right one.

Most often agents are hosting open house to pick up new clients. They aren't too happy when your agent tells them later that she is working with you. It's kind of like first dibs. Most times it can be handled in a friendly fashion and sometimes not.  

Agents work on commission and they don't get paid until you get to a successful closing and it is paid by the seller. The seller agreed to the percentage amount with his listing agent in their contract.

An agent that has first showed you the house can later go after your agent's commission after closing if she can establish she had "procuring cause". Which means, she showed it to you first. Now you can see why it would be a headache for your fabulous agent that helped you all the way through closing.

Bottom line:

Research a good agent as well as you look for a house online. Pick someone to help you before you call or go look at homes with a listing agent. Your Realtor will work hard for you and appreciate that you have put your trust in them. Leave it to an expert and you will glide all the way to closing on a wonderful home.

Comment balloon 20 commentsLizette Fitzpatrick • January 06 2011 04:32PM


Good post Lizette. I always tell buyers that it is almost never to their advantage to call the listing agent directly as it puts them at a real disadvantage come negotiation time.

Posted by Tom Priester, Paradise Sharks (Paradise Sharks ) over 7 years ago

Lizette - You handled that very well. It is unfortunate that the buyers do that but often it is because they "don't want to take up our time when we are not ready".
I would think that if there is an agents name in mind they should tell the Open House agent that they do have someone. But my experience is "we are not tied into anyone in particular".

I wrote a post last month I often wonder about procuring cause in California. I have a case that our office won and an experience that I had with a client.

I hope they get your sincerity from you and beside listing their home I hope they buy with you too.

Posted by Ken Barker Realtor® GRI, E-Pro Certified (Dilbeck Real Estate) over 7 years ago


People do not realize the various hurdles they need to jump over to do things the way they want. One false move and they are stuck due to protocol or the law. I wrote a similar post today regarding inspector clients.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 7 years ago

Lizette, agency is so often misunderstood and agents must constantly explain it to customers. In Texas it is mandatory.

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) over 7 years ago

Thats does sound a little 'sticky'. Hopefully in the case of Rob & Jenny, everything worked out.

Posted by John Cannata, Texas Home Mortgage - Purchase or Refinance (214-728-0449 over 7 years ago

Lizette  In Virginia signing in at an open house is not a problem.  I've represented many clients who have done that.    However, if it was a new home the builder insists that the agen accompany the buyer on hr firdt visit

Posted by Karen Kruschka, - "My Experience Isn't Expensive - It's PRICELESS" (RE/MAX Executives) over 7 years ago

Lizette - I echo Karen's comment above.  The agent that writes the offer will win unless there is an existing agreement with the other agent.  However, if a client visits new construction without you that's another story.

Posted by Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities, Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A. (Charlemagne International Properties) over 7 years ago

A timely word to the wise as the spring home buying season comes upon us (thought it's difficult to think about that with the snow storm on the way).  It's NOT to early to start thinking about the process.  Re-blog here.

Posted by Erby Crofutt, The Central Kentucky Home Inspector, Lexington KY (B4 U Close Home Inspections&Radon Testing ( over 7 years ago

Lizette, an excellent AR post. I'll have to share this with my buyer's so they can understand all the hurdles of being represented.

Posted by David Popoff, Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct (DMK Real Estate ) over 7 years ago

Lizette, so many people do not understand the process, suggested this post.

Posted by Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®, Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate (Perry Wellington Realty, Adam Conrad, Broker) over 7 years ago

Lizette, it seems like we can preach this until we are blue in the face. I think some really do not understand and others just don't care. Great post.

Posted by Keisha Hosea-, Real Estate Solutions For Real People (KASI Homes ) over 7 years ago

Lizette - It is also important for them to understand that the listing agent represents the seller.

Posted by Pam Dent, REALTOR® - Charlottesville Virginia Homes / Horse (Gayle Harvey Real Estate, Inc.) over 7 years ago

Excellent post Lizette. Many people do not understand how it all works, and we need to continually educate our buyers:)

Posted by Steve Baklaich, Treating Buyers & Sellers to Full Service Always. (RE/MAX Results St Cloud Mn real estate) over 7 years ago

A great post Lizette!

Posted by Joshua Zargari, MJ Decorators Workshop (MJ Decorators Workshop LI staging and home decorating) over 7 years ago

Hey Liz,

you are absolutely correct! :) It's best for clients to take the time to do their research on who they will be working with.  That connection is so important.  Thank you for sharing this story with us :)

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) over 7 years ago

Lizette--So many people just don't understand matter how many times they are told to find their agent and then look at houses. They don't want to "bother" us...please bother me before you look not after. It is my job after all! Nice post!

Posted by Teri Eckholm, REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro (Boardman Realty) over 7 years ago

Lizette, You have a way with words!  I hope it is okay I reblogged so I would have it handy for consumers here in Laramie to look at.  (You are the first one I've ever "reblogged" so I'm not sure of the ettiquitte)  I'll "suggest" this one, too!

Posted by Brenda Whitman, Live in Laramie Real Estate, Broker/Co-Owner, Laramie, Wyoming (Live in Laramie Real Estate, Laramie, Wyoming) over 7 years ago

Lizette - It's always best that buyers pick a Realtor first, even if they're not ready right away.

Posted by Michelle Gibson, REALTOR (Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. ) over 7 years ago


You stated this scenario so well.....and I preach all the time to new Buyer leads......yet they don't get it.  In new construction too, this is where the Buyer falls into NO representation because they think it is very innocent.


Posted by Daniel J. Brudnok, REALTOR, SRES, e-PRO,ABR,GREEN,CSP (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach, REALTORS - Exton - PA License #RS-225179-L / Delaware License #RS-0025038) over 7 years ago

I think procuring cause would be a hard claim since the listing agent was under contract with the sellers.  It's the listing agents DUTY TO THE SELLERS to show, market the property.  A buyer can be "unrepresented" at the time they see a property.  An unrepresented buyer belongs to no one.  Just because the listing agent opened the door doesn't make them procuring cause. 

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker (503) 810-7192, Buyer Focused ~ Buyer Results ( | Portland Metro Exclusive Buyers Agent | 100% Buyer Representation ~ 100% of the Time) about 4 years ago

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