Can a buyer switch agents to submit an offer on a home they were shown by another agent?
Maybe. If the buyer entered into an exclusive representation agreement with the first agent, they are bound by the terms of that contract unless the first broker is willing to release them from that contract. If approached by a prospective buyer client, a REALTOR® has an affirmative obligation to make reasonable efforts to determine whether the prospective client is subject to an exclusive representation agreement with another broker. Failing to ask this question may result in a violation of Article 16 of the Code of Ethics. Further, REALTORS® should not be contacting other brokers to request that they release a buyer from an exclusive representation agreement.
If the buyer is not subject to an exclusive representation agreement, they are free to switch brokers; however, this situation may present a question of procuring cause if the property they purchase was initially introduced to them by the first agent. While the so-called “threshold rule” does not singularly determine procuring cause, the agent who fist introduced the buyer to the property is one of many factors considered. A buyer agent who finds themselves as the second broker working with a buyer in their home search should strongly consider entering into an exclusive representation agreement with that buyer to protect the broker’s interest in being compensated for the work they do on behalf of that buyer.
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® Legal Team