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Online real estate sites can be misleading

Online real estate sites can be misleading

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Ask Phyllis: a blog series of frequently asked real estate questions.

Dear Phyllis,

I love reading your real estate answers. I want to relate a recent experience for the education of your readers and perhaps you can add some clarity. My wife and I own our home and saw an interesting fixer get listed. We didn’t want to bother our Realtor until we knew we were interested in this home.

There weren’t any open houses scheduled therefore we clicked the link to tour the property believing we were contacting the listing agent. We met the showing agent at the appointed time and although he seemed to lack a lot of knowledge or experience, he was very cordial. At no time did he ask if we had a Realtor. My wife and I went home and discussed the pros and cons of the home and then contacted our Realtor. To our surprise we learned that we had made a mistake and if we wanted to pursue this home might be forced to work with this inexperienced Realtor. It really changed things around for us and therefore, we decided against the home. Can you weigh in on this?


Dear Perplexed,

Certainly I share your frustration with these online real estate sites. Accordingly, it’s not that easy to determine who is the listing agent. How this typically works, is that these sites sell real estate agents client inquiries (leads). Most experienced Realtors have enough business through past clients and their referrals. Therefore, they don’t need to spend thousands of dollars a year on these leads. Therefore, by contacting who you think is the seller’s agent, you may be contacting a Realtor relatively new in the business.

Hence, when a buyer wants to inquire about a property, they should first turn to their Realtor who they know and trust. It is never a bother, it’s our job. This is how we get paid, by showing property. The listing agent’s role is to represent the seller.

In each real estate transaction, there is “procuring cause” which refers to actions that begin or set in motion a series of events that lead to the final sale of the property. I am not an attorney and cannot advise on who would have procuring cause as it is very complicated. If you wanted to pursue this home, your Realtor might have offered the showing agent a portion of the commission. This “referral fee” may have satisfied the showing agent.

Thank you for your continued readership and good luck on your real estate journey!

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