Home Buyer Tips

Are You Working with a Real Estate Agent?

Why does every Realtor ask me, “Are you working with a real estate agent?”

If you’ve ever gone to an open house, called the phone number on a property sign, or requested more info about a home on a Wilmington real estate website, you’ve likely been asked this question by an agent. If not, you should have.

“But, why? It almost sounds like they don’t want to speak with me.”

The first reason is a matter of ETHICS. Realtors invest a lot of time and money working with clients before they sell them a home and get paid. So, no real estate agent wants to “steal” another agent’s client. Not only do most Realtors understand the disappointment that arises when hours of time and money are thrown out the window, but they also realize it will give them a bad reputation, which can make for strained future relationships with other Realtors. In real estate, agents never know who they’re going to be working with next and they often work with the same people on multiple closings, so it’s important these relationships remain good for the sake of negotiations and networking.

If you’re currently working with another agent, it’s important that you inform the agent you are speaking with. Don’t think revealing this information will make the agent unwilling to speak with you: it will allow the agent to approach the situation in the most suitable manner, which often includes answering basic questions about the property and sending a courtesy email with the property’s info to your agent. Remember, it’s your real estate agent’s job to do the “digging” and negotiating on behalf of your best interests.

Please note: if you’re unhappy with your current real estate agent, it’s important that you inform them that you will be looking for another Realtor before you start working with anyone else. Depending on any paperwork that you have signed, like an Exclusive Buyer Agency Agreement, you may be required to do this in writing, as well as fulfill any agreed upon obligations that are part of that contract.

The second reason is INTENTION. If you’re asking about a property, you’re clearly interested in buying, but a Realtor wants to know how serious you may be. If the question, “Are you working with a real estate agent?” sends up alarm bells that the wrong answer may lead you straight into weeks of badgering phone calls, understand that Realtors don’t want to be a nuisance as much as you don’t want them to be. They want to help you, but, as I wrote before, they spend a lot of time and money on clients before a home is even sold. So, if you’re not ready to buy and just want to casually look at homes online, tell them that. They will likely offer to set you up with a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) search with properties fitting your specific needs. This can be very valuable to you, because an MLS search is more accurate and detailed than third-party websites, like Trulia, Zillow, or

The agent may also offer to follow-up with you every 3-6 months. Don’t be afraid to tell them how or when you prefer to be contacted. If you see a property you’re really interested in, you can always call or shoot them an email to request a showing.

In conclusion, don’t feel put-off or uneasy if a Realtor asks you if you’re working with another real estate agent. Their intention is to protect the interests of everyone involved in the real estate process while determining how they can best help you. So, don’t hesitate to tell them if you’re currently working with another agent and/or what your home buying plans may be. Open communication is the best way to get the service YOU need.

Have a question about buying real estate in the Wilmington area or interested in viewing a home? Don’t hesitate to give us a call!


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