Going to a Sacramento Open House Without an Agent

Open-House-Sacramento-300x193There is a reason why a Sacramento real estate agent might be reluctant to talk about mortgages. It’s not that we don’t know anything about mortgages, because we know a great deal; it’s because we are not a mortgage broker, and what we don’t know about mortgages can be very important to a buyer. Same thing when the tables are turned. Most mortgage brokers know a lot about real estate, but the things about buying real estate that could be very important to a home buyer, a mortgage broker might not know.

I have the utmost respect for Michele Dillingham at Big Valley Mortgage. She writes about mortgages and finance for the Sacramento Bee. However, her piece this Saturday contains a confusing error. She basically told home buyers that they should not go to an open house. She says: “The problem is that if you don’t tell the agent at that house that you already have your own real estate agent, then your agent may lose out on the deal — and you lose out on having your own agent. The agent who has the property listed would be representing both buyer and seller.”

It’s not true. Not true how a Sacramento open house works. It’s true that not telling the open house agent that you have your own agent could cause bickering among agents, but you are under no obligation to write your offer with the listing agent or even with the agent who is holding that Sacramento open house. You can go to an open house without your own agent, and you’ll be OK. If you have an agent, it’s a good idea to tell the host or hostess of the open house that you are working with an agent, but that’s more for your own protection. If open house agents know you have representation, they probably won’t ask for your personal information, nor will they be likely to hound follow up with you.

Moreover, many of the agents who hold an open house are not the listing agent. That’s because many listing agents do not actively represent buyers themselves. They might prefer to focus their business on seller representation. In that event, they would allow an agent on their team or in their office to hold the home open. That way, the agent holding open the house can also pick up some residual business from home buyers. They can try to represent the open house guest by writing an offer on that home or maybe they can show the buyer other homes. But you, as an open house guest, have no obligation to work with the open house agent nor the listing agent.

The only exception to this is new home sales. Don’t even think about stepping foot on a new home subdivision or new home sales office without your agent. If you are considering a new home, call your agent FIRST. But resales and previously owned homes are a completely different story.

If you are looking for an agent to represent you, going to open houses is a good way to meet a variety of real estate agents and, in a casual way, figure out whether you might want to work with any of them. If you do, then ask that agent to be your own representation. Be prepared to sign a Buyer’s Broker Representation agreement, which is a legal agreement, a two-way-street, between you and the agent’s brokerage.

But whatever you do, don’t put off going to a Sacramento open house just because you are worried that the agent will have dibs on you. Nobody can have dibs on you without your express written permission.

Here are a few of my Sacramento open houses that you might want to visit this weekend:


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