Why Does My Agent Say To Stay Away From Open Houses?

scottsdale home for sale open house

I wouldn't tell my buyers to completely stay away from open houses, but I do inform them how to properly view them.  First off, I want them to call me before going through an open house.

I realize sometimes they might just be driving around and see an open house and they don't want to call me and have to wait for me to get there.  They figure it's probably not a house they'd really like, or maybe it's not in their price range, and they just want to be sure.  We refer to this as "eliminating" a property.

Unfortunately, this doesn't always work.  It might be a home that I sent them that just didn't stick out from the pack.  When they go through the open house they realize it's perfect for them.  But they didn't call me to view it with them.

So what's the problem?  The agent holding the open house took this couple through the property.  Hopefully, they informed the agent holding the open house that they are already working with an agent, but that doesn't always work.  This agent will feel that he or she was the "procuring cause" of these buyers being interested in the home.  This agent might want to write up the offer for purchase, completely eliminating your agent.  Even if a purchase is made with your agent writing up the offer, this agent might want the "selling" commission and could possibly get it, or a portion of it, just because the buyers went through the open house without their agent.

There is also a good chance that the agent holding the open house is not the actual listing agent. An agent can only be at one open house at a time, and if they have multiple listings they can only be present at one open house on a particular day and time. If their other sellers also want open houses, then they have to find other agents to hold them. So the agent you're meeting at the open house might not know much more about the property than what is in the MLS print-out. However, they would also be considered Dual Agents if they represent both the buyer and seller for the one property, especially if they work in the same brokerage as the listing agent, which they usually do.

As a buyer, you probably don't really care about that as much as finding the right home.  However, if it is the listing agent or someone sitting the open house for the listing agent, then they are not able to give you full buyer representation, which we have discussed the importance of before.  You should care about that.

Or maybe you do care about your agent and want him or her to be paid for the time they have spent working for you.  By visiting an open house on your own this might not happen if you purchase that property. If you like and trust your agent and want to work with them through the closing, then you have to be careful about attending an open house without them. 

If you realize you made a mistake and wrote up an offer with the agent holding the open house and then want your current agent to help you after the fact, it can't happen. We are not allowed to interfere with a contract and a transaction between you and another agent.

Does this mean you can't ever go into an open house without your agent?  No.  What I recommend is that you get a stack of business cards from your agent.  If you do drop by an open house you should give one of these cards to the agent holding the open house and tell the agent that this is the agent that you are working with and that will be representing you.

If the agent acts negatively then you might need to leave and set an appointment up with your agent or ask your agent to meet you there.  Any agent that would get negative about this is someone you probably wouldn't want to be stuck working with if you like this home, so don't stick around.  That agent has to be at this open house for a certain time period anyway.  If you're the only buyers there they are not wasting their time showing you through the home.

Another thing you can do is call your agent ahead of time, even if it's from your car in front of the open house, and let him or her call the listing agent to let the person know you are sending your clients through the open house, kind of like registering you for this property.  You would give your name to the open house agent and explain that your agent already called about letting you through.

Another thing you don't want to do is to divulge any personal information about yourself to the agent.  Remember, this agent is not representing you, and anything you might say to them can be repeated to the seller.  So if you think this is the perfect home for you and say it's worth the price, then that agent could inform the seller of this if you write up a contract (either with this agent or your agent).  The seller might feel safe countering at full price if you offer a lesser amount.

Why would someone other than the listing agent sit an open house? They are agents that are trying to find unrepresented buyers. They realize that open houses normally do not help to actually sell the house. But whatever agent is having the open house is there to get buyers to work with and sell them something else. That's a secret most agents won't share with buyers or sellers.

So let's summarize how you should go about viewing open houses:

  • Go through the open house with your agent if possible
  • Bring your agent's cards with you and make sure the open house agent knows you are working with that agent
  • If you don't have cards give your agent's name and number
  • Have your agent register you before viewing the home through the open house
  • If you are interested in this property, do not tell the open house agent any personal information that might affect your offer
  • If the agent will not work with your agent without their presence during the open house viewing, then I would suggest leaving and making an appointment to see that home with your agent.

You deserve full representation, and you will not be receiving it by going through the property with the open house agent.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this FAQ please Contact Me or give me a call at 480-906-1500.

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