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Ask an Expert: Signing in without a broker at an open house

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Q.  If I go to an open house on my own and sign in under my own name (i.e., without listing a broker, because I’m not working with one), can the seller’s broker stop me from bringing in my own broker later? Or can I bring in my own broker at any time?

A.  According to the real estate brokers on our expert panel, it’s perfectly okay to bring in your own broker later even though it may make the seller’s broker (who stands to earn the entire commission instead of half by representing both sides) a bit cranky.

“The short answer is yes—the buyer can always seek representation,” says real estate broker Jacky Teplitzky.

Real estate broker Shirley Hackel says she actually prefers to work with buyers who have their own brokers. “Experience has shown that the deal will proceed more smoothly when there is separate representation on both sides.”

A seller’s agent who discourages you from bringing in your own broker would be “completely unethical” says broker Douglas Heddings.  “I would recommend reporting it to trade agencies like the Real Estate Board of New York, the Manhattan Association of Realtors and even the Department of State. A call to that agent’s manager may also prevent this type of behavior from happening in the future.”

Just because you are allowed to get outside representation doesn’t mean you should lose a sense of fair play. 

“If the seller’s agent works hard to help them, if asked to show [the apartment] again and again, he or she will not be thrilled to have a new face introduced, but it is a buyer’s choice and the broker must comply," says broker Deanna Kory.

And from an ethical point of view, she notes, “if a deal is negotiated and going into contract, it doesn’t seem right to bring a buyer’s broker in who had nothing to do with bringing about a meeting of the minds.”

Real estate broker Gordon Roberts agrees: "If, at the eleventh hour you decide to bring in your licensed salesperson Aunt Tillie, say, just before contract signing, that could raise some legitimate objections. It's something where common sense should rule – and if you want to bring in another broker, do it early in the game."

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