First time buyer - I have several agents sending me listings. Am I obligated to any of them?

Written by Posted On Monday, 28 April 2014 04:50


Answer- Unless you have signed a Buyer Agency Agreement with any of them the answer is -No, you are not obligated.

Not all states have the concept Buyer Agency in place, but those that do, like Michigan, require that in order to be a Buyer Agent there must be a written and signed agreement in place between the buyer and a specific agent. Those agreements may be what are called “Exclusive Buyer Agency Agreements”, which bind you to that agent for a specific period of time or they may be Non-exclusive Buyer Assistance Agreements, which specify that you are bound to that  agent as your representative only for the houses that he/she shows you. If you see a different house with a different agent, then that agent is who must represent you for that house.

Many would-be buyers jump around from agent to agent refusing to sign any agreements and hoping that they can keep all of them busy working to find them a house. That may work for a short period, but not for long. Most agents won’t waste their own time for clients who won’t sign up for any level of commitment them in return for the work that they are doing. Why would they?

If you have what could still be called a causal relationship with one of more agents and haven’t signed any agreements then it’s OK to have them all send you listings, but what’s the point? All of the agents would usually have access to the same MLS data and unless you give each one a different set of criteria they will likely all come up with the same houses to sending you the listings of. If you do give them each different criteria then you are playing a game that is wasting their time and probably yours, too.

There is no requirement to commit to a single agent; however, it is more ethical on your part to narrow the fields down as quickly as you can to the one that you would like to continue to work with all the way through to an offer. It takes nothing more than a quick phone call or an email to the agents that you no longer wish to work with to tell them to stop sending you listings because you have chosen to work with another agent. They won’t be offended, it’s a part of the business and they will respect you for taking the time to let them know not of waste any more of their time on you.

So your only “obligation” as is often the case in life is to do what is right. If an agent shows you a house then you should use that agent if you wish to make an offer. If an agent is just sending you listings every so often, then you have no obligation to that agent, if you have not signed any Buyer Agency Agreement with them. If the listings that they have been sending  to you result in you wanting to see a specific house from those listings, then you have to decide whether you want to be a jerk and call some other agent to show you that house or at least let the person who did the work in the first place get some reward for that effort. That’s still up to you, too.


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Norm Werner

Norm Werner is a Realtor at the Milford office of Real Estate One serving the southeastern Michigan area of Oakland and Livingston Counties. Norm specializes in residential real estate. Norm lives and works in Milford Michigan and is married to Carolyn Werner. Norm and Carolyn live in a historic home just three blocks from downtown Milford, with their two dogs - Sadie and Skippy. Norm specializes in the historic homes of Milford and the surrounding area and is on the Board of Directors of the Milford Historical Society. Norm especially enjoys working with first time buyers and those at the other end of the real estate spectrum who are downsizing into their retirement home. 

In addition to his web site, Norm also owns and m,aintains web site, the web site. He is also the webmaster for and the web site and the MilfordCar web site, as well as his church web site - In addition to blogging about real eastate, Norm has a personal blog - - on which he shares inspirational messages and the occasions personal observation about life.

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