Lisa and Jim's Northern Nevada Real Estate Blog: Is it OK to steal a 'Potential" Customer? Right vs Wrong in Real Estate

Is it OK to steal a 'Potential" Customer? Right vs Wrong in Real Estate

Scott ... Until an agent has a signature on the dotted line no one owns anyone.  Even if the other agent shows the home first, the buyers may not like that agent or have a variety of reasons that they find themselves unable or unwilling to work with the first agent.  In Nevada "Procuring Cause" is next to impossible to uphold. 

Bottom line, a customer has the right and ability to secure representation with whom ever they choose provided they have not signed a legal agency contract with another agent.

I have run into a bit of a problem and need your opinion. If you have a Listing and a potential buyer sees your ad, calls for an address to drive by or simply drives by from seeing the address online... Are they actually YOUR customer yet? The easy answer is No, Obviously you have not signed them up as a Buyer Broker as they just called, you have not met them yet...They are however potential customers as they are driving to that listing becuase of your ad. 

Now the PROBLEM part... Say another agent from another company lives near your listing, then they allegedly stop a lot of the cars driving by or people walking around looking at the property and hand out their card and offer to represent them as a buyer agent.

Is this alright?

We have Procurring cause VS. Ethics VS. The Law which all are different. Is this breaking any of them? Not the law, maybe not procurring cause but it depends on whose ethics we are quoting.

The only reason that buyer is their was becuase of the listing agents ad after all?

Reading a featured blog this morning where an agent was showing a home with their buyers and another set of buyers showed up for an open house. The agent holding the open house had not showed up. So the buyer agent offers to represent them and brings them through the house. Again a gray area. Does it violate any rule, law or ethics?  It did show me that this happens more than one thinks.

 The agent allegedly is using a "dragnet" to gather up my potential customers outside my own Listing does not seem right. To some it may not seem wrong and to others it is very wrong. What are they violating? they would be violating similar rules towards these buyers if they are representing several buyers showing the same listing to each buyer without disclosure.   

I work hard to List new properties, I work hard to get these properties under contract and closed.  I work hard to market and advertise my Listings to potential Buyers. In NH I can show buyers my listings after they sign the agency disclosure form knowing I represent the seller, but will work honestly and ethically during the transaction. with all parties involved.  

Although it may not be illegal, it may not be against the ethics rules but is at the botton end of being ethical and is down right unprofessional.  


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Comment balloon 7 commentsLisa Wetzel • January 09 2012 09:41PM


This kind of thing happens all the time. Being in the right place at the right time comes to mind. Nothing wrong or unethical of taking advantage of that. I'd be happy to see an agent sitting outside of one of my listings doing this kind of thing, because I will not. I think you should be happy too.

Posted by Dorian Moffat (Halo Group Realty) over 8 years ago

Well  well, what seems to be complicated here is in fact very simple. It goes like this...”what comes around, goes around”. Just keep letting the rope out and the agent will hang themselves. This is not a system that will lead to any long term success. If you in fact know the agent doing this, it is just so flippin simple to send them on a ride to the abyss, where they will simply not want to return to the real estate industry. Myself,  I would have a conversation with the agent and strongly suggest that for everyone client they scoop it will cost them tenfold. In this business it is your reputation that takes you to respectability. Hold your head high , keep your integrity intact, and call the agent out on it. Ask the agent if they think this practice is acceptable... if so, set up at their next open house and verify it. Cheers!

Posted by Chuck Beaumont, Going The Extra Mile... (Royal Lepage Binder Real Estate) over 8 years ago

Dorian ... I agree.  I didn't write this post ... just reposted it.  You are correct, I would love to have any agent dogging my listings like that!

Chuck ... I have always figured that I get everyone who is suppose to work with me.  If the day ever comes that I have to guard my customers and my listings ... that's the day that I'll quit!  If someone chooses to work with another agent over me ... It has happened but Not Very Often! ... I figure they are better off.  I didn't write this blog ... Just reposted it!

Posted by Lisa Wetzel, CDPE, SFR (RE/MAX Realty Affiliates) over 8 years ago

Interesting post, Lisa - good choice for a re-blog. Even though the potential client is just that - potential - until they sign a contract, I believe in the phrase: "karma is a boomerang"...I figure it's counterproductive to really worry so much about the practices of others and so I spend more time concentrating on my own approach business.

Posted by Karen Hawkins, MBA - Langley & Surrey, BC (Royal Pro Real Estate Network) over 8 years ago

Karen ... You are a wise woman!

Posted by Lisa Wetzel, CDPE, SFR (RE/MAX Realty Affiliates) over 8 years ago

Good Morning Lisa, Thanks for the re-blog. I think you missed the point of my blog though, I agree that all buyers have the right to representation if they so want it.  In my case there was an agent who allegedly was stopping cars and walking up to people who were walking around my listing. It may not be against the law but is definately on the lowest end of any ethics spectrum.

The 2 points are: this is a very poor way to solicit new customers. The second point is someone who calls on a home and wants an address, of course i ask them for their name and if they are working with another agent. most buyers want to drive by a home prior to making an appointment to see it. There are also buyers who see an online ad with an address and just drive by. At no time did I SAY THEY BELONG TO ME OR THAT THEY DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT FOR SOMEONE TO REPRESENT THEM.

I did say this agent is allegedly acting VERY unprofessional by their actions. What you may not know is here in Nh if a buyer chooses not be represented, I, as the listing agent can indeed show them the house after presenting them with the agency disclosure form and i can write an offer if they so choose.

This is not a debate on buyer representation. It is not a debate on who should have it and who needs it.

It is a debate that an agent who goes up to pepole driving by another agents listings and what you think about it.

Posted by Scott Godzyk, One of the Manchester NH's area Leading Agents (Godzyk Real Estate Services) over 8 years ago

Scott ... I agree with you.  The comments on my re-post missed our message.

It's not really about the other agents shoddy techniques.  It's about how we approach our clients and customers initially.  I agree with you and I'm not defending sneaky tacktics by lazy agents at all.

In fact, I said specifically, it doesn't matter who shows the house first.  In other words, even if an agent opens the door and lets them in that does not make that buyer their client!  Buyer have the right to employ whom ever they choose to represent them in a transaction.

Posted by Lisa Wetzel, CDPE, SFR (RE/MAX Realty Affiliates) over 8 years ago