Clients and Procuring Cause

No one owns a buyer.  Buyers, unless obligated by a Buyer’s Broker Agreement, often move from agent to agent.  After showing a property, there is a documentation created, but showing a property or sending information to a client doesn’t necessarily create an entitlement to the fee at closing.

What happens when one buyer is contacted by more than one agent…sometimes a number of agents, with the same information.   In small areas, with a scarcity of listings and a higher than average number of agents, this can be a common problem.

Are clients loyal and what happens when a client talks to several agents….all feeling entitled to a fee?  This does happen and can be awkward.  I tend to take it in stride and understand the average client might know a dozen other local agents.  The average buyer might think about friendship, professionalism, loyalty to a first contact or might prefer one agent’s personality over another.  A salesperson’s skin grows thicker with time.  I once worked with someone over a period of weeks, showing the same property 4 or 5 times.  On a final showing, the client called ahead to ask me to prepare a rough contract.  As listing agent, I felt fairly pleased to bring an offer to the owner, an out-of-state bank.   Anyway, a family friend came along for the last showing, never identifying herself as an agent until we were about to sign the offer.   Both buyer and agent made it very clear I was expected to grin and bear the bad behavior.  We made the sale, I worked both sides and life went on.  Was it fair?  Probably not, but I had a choice.  Make it work for the client or fight a losing battle.  “Half a win” is better than a loss.

There is a point.  Agents usually don’t own buyers.  I’d love to think every buyer will stay with me through contract, but many call one agent, then another, then another… before finally signing a contract with a second, third or fourth agent.   What about registrations?  Builders sometimes pre-register clients, but what happens if another agent brings in the same buyer?  In most cases, the agent considered the procuring cause is the agent/broker entitled to a fee.   Who writes the offer?  Which agent came last and which agent did the buyer point out?  Which agent was instrumental and present when a decision was made?   Was there a break in the relationship or was the contact continuous?  Were you the only agent working with this client?  What about a truly active buyer with “MANY” agents vying for attention?  Get used to being only one of many.  Procuring cause isn’t always clear and anything short of a written agreement for representation or presenting a signed offer, may not make you the procuring cause.   Just because I sent information to a client, doesn’t mean they’ll choose to work with me, I’m necessarily the procuring cause or they haven’t been contacted by any number of other agents before or after.

2 comments to Clients and Procuring Cause

  • Determining the procuring cause of a sale is often challenging and somewhat subjective because it can go to intent or meaning. Here’s an interesting procuring cause scenario to think about. Who do you think earned the buyer’s side of this transaction? http://realtormag.realtor.org/law-and-ethics/law/article/2005/11/procuring-cause-who-gets-paid

    • edboner

      I would vote for Barry as well. Several points…open houses do attract clients working with other agents. I would also consider Barry’s prior relationship and the relatively minor role played. See the date on the article as well. At the time, the agency disclosure may have given the buyer the impression the list agent was only representing the owner. Barry wrote the contract and, barring other inforamtion, looked like the procuring cause to me.

      Thanks for the comment on the blog post earlier. My wife and I were in Rye about a month ago. She grew up in Portsmouth and Newcastle, but moved here about 25 years ago. I’m a Florida native….but love your scenery and the people. Great place!

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