Is it really ok to show listings to another agent’s clients?

having a buyer's agent is the key
If listing agent shows the property to a Buyer via a personally arranged showing, the co-operating brokerage commission will be reduced by 1%...

Many different kinds of home-buyers, many different agents

As real estate agents, we know that all buyers are not equal. Some are just getting started in their search, others are hobby shoppers, some are pre-approved and have lists and spreadsheets, others are bouncing around randomly like bingo balls in a big hopper. Some are first-time homebuyers and other are second, third and fourth time buyers. Some are moving in, some are moving up. Some are downsizing. Buyers come in all shapes and sizes with different goals and levels of knowledge. 

Qualifying home-buyers

With that in mind, we owe it to ourselves, and to our home sellers to qualify buyers coming through open houses and/or calls and emails through or other on and offline sites. One of our qualifying questions is:

“Are you currently working with a Realtor”? 

If the answer is ‘yes’, then most Realtors will be satisfied that you are a qualified buyer, seriously shopping for your next home. 

It is not uncommon for 30%, 50% or even a higher percentage of visitors to a Sunday open house to answer, “Yes, I have an agent”. 

That’s a good thing.  

(As an aside, a lot of agents, myself included, like to visit open houses with our clients. We want to know what our clients know. We want to be with them every step of the journey.)  

Is it ok to show listings to another agent’s clients? 

But what about private showings? What is the best plan of action for us if a buyer working with another agent requests to see our listing? 

A few years ago when the market was white hot and it seemed that homebuyers coming out of the GTA were winning all the bids, I noticed that a short paragraph started appearing in the ‘agent’s notes’ on listings. 

It says:

If listing agent shows the property to a Buyer via a personally arranged showing, the co-operating brokerage commission will be reduced by 1% of the purchase price + HST for any offer submitted by that Buyer or related parties on the property. Not applicable if Buyer attends an open house.

My first reaction to seeing this clause was to think that the listing Realtor is more interested in his/her commission than selling the listing. 

My second thought was that my job is to sell this house and I am going to do everything I can to do just that. But now, three years later, having shown houses to anyone who wants to see then irregardless of whether or not they claim to have a Realtor, I am more reluctant to do that anymore.  

Here’s why:

Buyer’s agent’s unqualified buyers

Just like real estate listings are ‘front-loaded’ (almost all the important work happens before the listing hits the market), a lot of the work of working with buyers, happens before buyers start viewing homes with their agents. By showing homes to other agent’s clients I’ve come to realize that we are not all operating from the same rule book. We are wasting the buyer’s time by not helping them get off to a good start. 

Agent’s knowledge

As buyer’s agents, our responsibility is to help our buyers along the learning curve. We have to give them the knowledge that they need to make good real estate decisions. How can we do that if we sign them up and turn them loose to find the house they want to buy on their own?

Seller inconvenience

If you’ve ever sold a home, you will know how inconvenient is it. As your listing Realtor, I think we should try to inconvenience you as little as possible. That means only showing the home to buyers who have at least some likelihood of buying it.

Do you have a buyer’s agent?

I know that clause above does not really solve any of these problems and I have never put it into the Realtor notes on my listings. Instead I think that serious home buyers should demand that their agents set up showings and visit open houses with them. Otherwise, why have an agent?

Further reading: Who pays the buyer’s agent and other questions from the chat widget

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