When buying a home, MUST I use the service of just one Realtor?
Technically you are not obligated to use any one Realtor, unless you sign a buyer-broker agreement (which is something like the listing agreement a seller signs, where you contract for services over a set period of time). Buyer-broker agreements are uncommon in Florida.
The practical answer is you need to stick with one Realtor, at least through the offer stage. I’ll give you an example of when to dump a Realtor later on.
In Florida, Realtors are obligated to do certain things by law: the timely presentation of all offers and counter offers, limited confidentiality (transaction brokers), etc. But when you are a great customer (i.e. loyal) a Realtor will answer the phone at anytime of the day or night for you, the Realtor will trudge out after dinner to show property to you, the Realtor will show up at 6 a.m. to pick up a key somewhere so you can see something before work, and he or she will pull out all the stops to get you safely to closing.
In a recent Trulia forum, Sean Bonini, a Realtor from Scottsdale, Arizona, said, “If you want your agent to provide the best service and support to you then you owe it to them to be a loyal client…interview a few agents, get referrals, do your research, and then commit to one through the entire transaction.”
But if you’re having a conversation with a Realtor you’ve been working with (and they’ve just given you a very detailed answer to your question), and you pipe up and say, “Well I went to an open house and a Realtor there told me such-and-such, and another Realtor in Palm Coast said this-that-and-the-other.” Guess what, friend, you just moved to the back burner. You suddenly ceased to exist in the eyes of that Realtor. Because you didn’t respect the time they’ve dedicated to you and now they can’t trust you. They now don’t believe that you, the buyer, will get them, the Realtor, safely to closing.
Thought it ran just the other way, didn’t you? Funny how that works, isn’t it?
So here are some examples of when to, and when not to dump your Realtor:
You hook up with a Realtor and he or she pays good attention to you. This Realtor shows you 16 homes that are what you are looking for, but you still haven’t found the one. So you’re driving around the next weekend, you go to an open house and love it, and then you write the contract with the agent holding the open house. In the meantime, the Realtor who showed you the 16 homes is completely cut out and doesn’t get paid for services he already rendered to you.
If you do this to your Realtor you are a human scumbag (emphasis mine) and I’m sorry if that offends you. What you should have done is call your Realtor so they could write the contract and get you safely to closing. Karma has a way of working…as you fumble your way towards closing amidst a flurry of unreturned calls it may turn out the open house agent is working strictly for the seller and is completely incompetent to boot. But you were too busy to call the good Realtor…it would have meant missing a rerun of The Office on tivo.
You hook up with a Realtor and he or she pays no attention to you. Somehow he mistakenly answers his phone while golfing and ends up showing you a home that you are smitten with. You actually make an offer on the home but it doesn’t work out. The Realtor has proved he’s an idiot. Dump him. No credit for time served.
To recap: Good Realtor (keep), Idiot Realtor (dump).
Question answered? I hope so.