As Realtors, we are often approached by the public to answer questions about properties and real estate practice. Straight up, that’s our job. But did you know there are times when we can’t answer? It’s not that we don’t know the answer, but that we are obligated not to. One of those times is when the person asking already has an agent.
Per Article 16, Section 13 of the Realtor Code of Ethics, Realtors must go through a client’s representative (their Realtor) when it comes to real estate affairs. Here’s exactly what it says:
All dealings concerning property exclusively listed, or with buyer/tenants who are subject to an exclusive agreement shall be carried on with the client’s representative or broker, and not with the client, except with the consent of the client’s representative or broker or except where such dealings are initiated by the client.
A Realtor can state whatever is public fact and in the MLS, but no negotiating, discussion of terms, or advice should be exchanged. This is one reason why Realtors will ask you right away if you’re already working with an agent.
Before providing substantive services (such as writing a purchase offer or presenting a CMA) to prospects, REALTORS® shall ask prospects whether they are a party to any exclusive representation agreement. REALTORS® shall not knowingly provide substantive services concerning a prospective transaction to prospects who are parties to exclusive representation agreements, except with the consent of the prospects’ exclusive representatives or at the direction of prospects. (Adopted 1/93, Amended 1/04)
Article 16 also states that a Realtor is not allowed to solicit business from a buyer or seller who has already entered into an exclusive representation or exclusive brokerage relationship agreement with another Realtor for those specific services. In other words, an agent from The Cameron Team can not offer their services to a buyer who is already working with a buyer’s agent. However, if that buyer also needs to sell and has not signed a listing agreement with their buyer’s agent, an agent from The Cameron Team could solicit them for the listing.
If a Realtor suspects that any boundaries have been crossed, they can file a grievance with the local Realtor association and if found guilty, the accused Realtor could be fined or lose their license, depending on association rules. If the client decides to pursue the related property, grievance or not, any information shared could affect negotiations. In the best interest of all parties, it’s best to err on the side of caution. That’s why some listing agents won’t even show homes to potential buyers if their agent is unavailable.
So, next time you call for more information on a property or want to bend the ear of a Realtor friend, don’t be surprised if you don’t get the full answer you are looking for. It’s possible the Realtor can’t get involved, and you may want to ask yourself why it is you’re not going through your agent. If you’re afraid to bother them, don’t hesitate to speak up. This is part of their job, and they would rather have you ask them than go to another agent.
With that said, if you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Wilmington area and don’t have an agent (?), give us a call at (910) 202-2546 or send us a message through our Contact page.