Realtors: Watch Your Clients

Realtors should be careful of losing their clients to agents holding open houses. Some agents are very aggressive in trying to poach buyers at their open houses. We have had two separate recent incidentsrealtorconman_320. where the open house Realtors tried to steal both of our clients despite telling them that they were already working with us. Fortunately, both sets of clients are fabulous and remained loyal to us.

I know what the text book Realtor instructor will say - Don't let your buyers go to open houses without you! That is just impossible. Some buyers want to go to every available open house on Sunday and it is just ridiculous to even try to attend every open house with them. That is not good, real world advice. 

If buyers walk into my open house and say that they are already working with a Realtor I am not going to try to steal them. Regardless of whether or not it is a violation of a Realtor ethics it is just plain wrong. Agents can spend tons of money and months or even years to cultivate clients. Don't be a weasel and try to steal that client when they are already represented. 

I called the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR) legal hotline and spoke with the ethics expert about this. According to them, it is not an ethics violation for an agent to try to steal a client when they mention that they are already working with a Realtor. However, if the buyers indicate they have an exclusive relationship with a Realtor then it becomes a violation of article 16. 

Standard of Practice 16-9
REALTORS®, prior to entering into a representation agreement, have an affirmative obligation to make reasonable efforts to determine whether the prospect is subject to a current, valid exclusive agreement to provide the same type of real estate service.

Standard of Practice 16-13
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.

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. do you deal with this?

  1. Have your buyers sign an exclusive buyer representation agreement. Then file an ethics complaint when the open house agent tries to poach your buyers. ;-)
  2. Attend every open house with your buyers. (pretty unrealistic)
  3. Only work with loyal buyers.
Perhaps the Realtors Standards of Practice could change where an agent could be in violation when a buyer says, "I am already working with a Realtor." 
I would love to hear your opinions about this


#1 By Mike Pannell at 8/20/2021 6:23 AM

Yeah that is not good... I hate people that try this tactic... We have some builders that try this...

#2 By John Mayberry at 8/20/2021 6:23 AM

Great Post Marc! I personally can not stand some of the spineless people out there in this industry that make some of us look bad, however I guess some of those same "bad apples" also help us to shine a little stronger sometimes, but I for one could definitely do without them! Thanks for sharing!

#3 By Xena Vallone at 8/20/2021 6:23 AM


I had a similar incident happen, as I am sure most REALTORS have. In my particular situation, the agent at the open house indicated she was the ONLY person who could write the offer. This was during the type of market we are experiencing now. One of the other adds to your article, maybe a #4 is to educate your Buyer about who can or cannot write offers for them.

In general I believe education of the public "in a positive way" would be helpful too. Some buyers really are not aware because they just were not told. What I would like to see is a Buyer Code of Ethics that we could give to our customers.

Great discussion again.

#4 By Linda Barchard-Grimes at 8/20/2021 6:23 AM

Great post, Marc. I know exactly what you are saying. I just try to keep the buyers nice and close. Lots of contacts.

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