Can I work with multiple real estate agents?

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You can work with multiple real estate agents if you haven’t signed an exclusive contract. However, working with multiple agents is considered by many to be unethical or, at the very least, impolite. The practice may yield few benefits for homebuyers and sellers and fewer benefits for agents.

How to work with multiple realtors or agents

If you choose to work with multiple agents, you must inform each agent of your intention. Not only will this provide transparency for all parties involved, but it will allow any agents who require exclusivity to politely decline your business.

Even if you don’t inform the agents that you’re working with other representatives, it’s likely they’ll find out. Real estate agents and many realtors are required to work for a broker — real estate professionals who have undergone additional training and obtained a license to supervise agents. Agents in brokerages work together to meet the needs of their clients, making it probable that your agents will encounter one another while working for you.

→ Read more real estate agents vs Realtors vs brokers

Additionally, real estate agents are highly collaborative, working with other agents to coordinate showings, negotiate deals, and close sales. The cooperative nature of the real estate industry increases the likelihood that your agents will discover that you’re working with more representatives than just them.

Why working with multiple agents is frowned upon

Working with multiple realtors or agents may not be illegal, but it’s an unpopular practice.

Real estate agents get paid by commission — in exchange for their work, they receive a percentage of the final sale amount (typically 5% to 6%, or $0 if the sale doesn’t close). It takes an average of six months to buy a house and two months to sell a house, which means that for those two to six months, your agent is essentially working for free.

Agents who take on clients working with multiple realtors risk not getting paid for their work. To protect themselves, many agents and brokerages have an exclusive contract.

Most buyer-broker agreements will contain an exclusivity agreement, which states that your broker will be your only representation to buy or sell your home within a given timeframe (typically around six months).

If you sign an agreement with a broker, it’s important to understand what you may be on the line for — if you’re not careful and sign multiple agreements, you could end up being on the hook for multiple full or partial commissions for all of the agents you worked with.

Another option is to sign an open listings agreement. This non-exclusive contract allows multiple agents or brokers to vie for the commission by securing a buyer for your property. You’ll work with your agent as well as any others who are interested in showing your home. However, it can be difficult to find an agent or broker willing to take on an open listing because there is no guarantee that they will be paid for their work.

Is working with more than one realtor or agent worth it?

Still, homebuyers or sellers may choose to play the field and work with multiple agents. For those that choose to do so, consider the following pros and cons.

Pros

  • You can get multiple perspectives on your home purchase or sale.
  • You will gain a sense of an agent’s working style before committing (which can be especially helpful in the early stages).

Cons

  • There will be a smaller pool of agents willing to work with you.
  • Agents might not invest as much time in you, knowing there’s a risk they won’t get paid.
  • The practice is generally frowned upon.
  • You could end up owing commissions to multiple agents if you sign agreements with more than one.

An alternative to working with multiple realtors is to interview multiple agents before beginning your home search or sale process. This tactic can help you get multiple perspectives on your homebuying or selling experience without risking any of the cons of hiring multiple agents. 

Want to work with a real estate expert? When you work with Orchard, we’ll team you up with local experts working to radically simplify the homebuying and selling process.

How to tell your realtor you’re working with someone else

Not every agent is going to be a perfect fit, which is why you may have been wondering if you can work with multiple real estate agents to begin with. The bond between you and your agent is significant — buying and selling a home carries a lot of emotions with it — but at the end of the day, it’s a professional relationship that you should feel empowered by.

When you know that the time has come to move on from your current representation, it’s important to first understand what you’re legally on the line for. Carefully review your buyer-broker or listing agreement. If the contract expires in the near future, it may be best to wait it out. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to ask your brokerage to terminate the contract.

Once you’ve determined you’re legally able to seek new representation, keep things polite and professional. Organize a call with your agent and inform them that you’ll be working with someone else going forward. Be prepared to give feedback on why you’re choosing to move on (they may ask) but keep things brief.

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