Folks looking to buy or sell real estate will likely conduct interviews, check out credentials and do other checks before settling on the Realtor they want to represent them. Clients know they have plenty of choices and, most of the time, the decision is theirs to make.
But sometimes agents choose not to work with certain clients or on particular transactions. Here are some of the reasons why:
1. You want to buy or sell property in another area.
This is probably the most common reason a Realtor will say “no” to a prospective client. Let’s say you know a great agent helped you purchase your current home several years ago. Now you want to move out of the area. She has agreed to help you with the sale of your property here.
If you are relocating to another state, chances are she is not licensed there and so cannot legally represent you. Even if your plan is to move to another part of California, she will likely not represent you in the purchase if she is unfamiliar with the area.
She can, however, refer you to an agent who works in that area and is better acquainted with the market there – perhaps an agent she met at a conference or training seminar, or someone in a real estate network she’s affiliated with.
You will be represented by a professional who has been vetted by your trusted listing agent. She likely will receive a modest referral fee from your new Realtor. A win-win-win.
2. You need someone to handle a job outside his scope of expertise.
Most agents focus on certain aspects of real estate: residential sales, commercial sales and leasing, sales of businesses, property management, to name a few common specialties. Except in very small communities, few agents handle every type of transaction.
In fact, some residential specialists choose to work only with buyers or only work with sellers.
So if you try to engage an agent whose focus is on residential real estate to help you lease a commercial building, for example, he may turn you down.
As in the previous scenario, he can likely refer you to someone better suited to your situation.
3. Representing you would create a conflict of interest.
California allows agents to represent both buyers and sellers on the same transaction. This potentially leads to conflicts of interest. So most Realtors have their own set of guidelines, or guidelines set by their brokers, for when they will or won’t engage in “dual agency.”
Some agents never represent both sides. Some do, but ask another agent to write the offer for the buyers.
Some will represent both sides, but won’t write offers for more than one buyer on the same property.
And, most agents will not represent buyers while selling their own home or the home of a close relative.
4. You will not commit to working exclusively with one agent.
The most commonly used listing agreement provides the broker an exclusive right to represent the sellers in the sale of their property. Some sellers, though, want non-exclusive agreements.
And many buyers feel like they can have more than one agent showing them property.
It takes a lot of time, energy and money to assist buyers or sellers with their real estate needs, and so many Realtors will choose not to work with clients who are not working exclusively with them.
5. The agent is “too” busy to represent you properly.
Some very successful agents may have so many clients they don’t feel they can properly serve them all.
Often these agents form teams, and may ask another team member to work with you. In some teams the labor is divvied up, so that the lead agent consults with every client and perhaps negotiates agreements, while junior agents show property, hold open houses, etc. In other cases, the lead agent handles listings, while junior agents work with buyers, no matter who the client signs with.
It’s a model that is becoming more common. Both you and the Realtor have to decide if it’s the best model for you and your situation.
6. You want the agent to represent you, but you don’t want to pay his or her fee.
Agents set their own fees, perhaps following guidelines set by their brokers. Full-service agents are unlikely to work with you if you are only willing to pay fees charged by limited-service agents.
7. You asked the agent to break the law or cross ethical lines.
State law has very strict rules that all agents must abide by. Realtors – who are members of the National Association of Realtors as well as the California Association of Realtors – have even stricter ethical standards that they must abide by.
Agents cannot discriminate, nor assist you in doing so. They can’t hide material facts from prospective buyers or lie to other agents. At the same time, they have fiduciary duties to their own clients.
Not only would it be wrong for agents to cross these lines, it could cost them their licenses.
8. You and the agent cannot work together in a mutually respectful way.
Sometimes it’s a personality thing. Sometimes an agent feels like the client doesn’t listen to their advice or would rather be working with someone else. Whatever the reasons, if they can’t work it out, sometimes it’s better for client and agent to part ways.
9. The agent believes your expectations are unrealistic.
It’s your Realtor’s job to give you the best advice she can: to be straight with you about current market conditions, how much home you can afford to purchase, what you need to do to get your property ready for sale.
If you are insistent on looking at homes beyond your price range, or pricing your home way beyond what the market will bear, your agent may just move on.
10. You are not truly motivated to buy or sell property at this time.
Real estate is a business. If an agent thinks you don’t truly want to buy or sell, he may decide not to represent you until you are ready to make a move.
Each situation is unique. Talk to your local Realtor candidly about any concerns that might occur in the purchase or sale of your property, and find out what his or her standard of conduct is in these situations.
Cher Wollard is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Drysdale Properties, Livermore.