Every agent has heard the objection, “I have an agent.” 

But do you know how to navigate the conversation when someone tells you that?

It may not be what you think. 

I’ll explain the three things that comment could mean. Because this comes up a lot

Before we dive in, I want to be very clear that we’re not advising anyone to violate contract law or interfere with agreements already in place. That’s not what we’re talking about here. 

But there are multiple reasons why people say, “I already have an agent.” So here are the top three scenarios—and how to respond to each. 

Scenario #1—They’ve already signed with an agent

The first reason is simple. The person you’re speaking with actually does have an agent they’re working with, and they don’t understand what happens when they click on a Zillow listing or make an inquiry on Realtor.com.

If someone has an agent and has an agreement, there’s nothing you can do with that.  I want to be very clear that we’re not advising anyone to violate contract law.

So let’s get that one out of the way. You should never interfere with a contract that’s legal. 

However, there are two other reasons besides this one.

Scenario #2—They have an agent who’s doing the bare minimum

Another reason is that they met an agent once and they feel like they have a relationship. Yet all that agent did was put them on a property drip and is now waiting for them to call. 

That’s not an agency relationship. It’s a contact. It’s a conversation. It’s a lead. It’s not an agency contract. 

Scenario #3—It’s a defense mechanism

Generally speaking, people don’t want to feel cornered into buying or committing to something. They definitely don’t want to be harassed by an agent with commission breath who will likely keep calling and calling and calling them with an approach that’s more aggressive than helpful. 

And who can blame them? I’ve worked with real estate agents like this in the marketplace, so I understand where people are coming from. 

How to Find Out if Your Lead Really Has an Agent

Let’s review. The first scenario—when a consumer has a signed contract with an agent— is not something you can work with. 

It’s the second and third scenarios where you often have an opening to dive into a deeper conversation. Here are questions and follow-ups you can do with those consumers. 

Question #1

The first question you want to try is this:

“Hey, totally appreciate you have an agent. How’s that going so far?” 

Then stop talking and listen. See what they say. If it’s going well, this person will tell you it’s going well. 

If it’s not going well you might hear things like 

  • I’m doing all the looking on my own,” 
  • My home’s not selling,”  
  • That’s why I’m reaching out to you. I never hear from my agent.” 

This is where you have an opportunity to ask more questions and continue to follow up with these folks. 

The reason there’s an opportunity is most agents have a three-point plan whether they are working with a buyer or a seller.

On the listing side, the agent will put up a sign, list the seller’s home on the MLS and wait for something to happen. 

Or, on the buying side, the agent gathers the buyer client’s information, meets a buyer client, puts them on a property drip and waits for the consumer to get back to them if they’re interested in buying something. 

That’s lazy follow-up. And if you’re reading this, you know your clients deserve better. 

Discovery questions

Based on a consumer’s reaction to the first question, you can ask additional questions like these: 

  • “Tell me a little bit more about what you’re trying to find.”
  • “Why do you think your home hasn’t sold?” 

Take all the discovery questions out of the numerous scripts that are out there that we teach and that most coaches teach. You should familiarize yourself with these questions. 

That’s where there’s an opportunity to have a conversation to see if you can actually help these people. 

Value-based follow-up

The third situation, when the consumer is saying, “I already have an agent” as a defense mechanism, usually happens when someone is just starting to think about buying or selling, and isn’t ready to make any commitments yet. By now, you’ve probably run into this scenario.

This is where it’s important to treat everyone like a client and make sure you follow up

So, ask the question, “Hey, how’s that going?” And get into discovery mode. Because remember, people do things for their reasons, not yours. No one wants to be sold. They’re going to do it because it’s important to them

When you ask the right questions, and you make it about the person and not the property or the sale, that’s where good things happen. 

In this situation, you can still, put them on a property drip based on what they inquired about (with their permission, of course). But don’t stop there: 

  • Are you giving them updated sales activity in their neighborhood? 
  • Are you following up making sure you’re in communication with them?
  • Are you sending additional information or pieces of value?

You can also try something like this: 

“Would you be open-minded to a financial planning session? I could show you how your payment could work.”

Or,

“Has anyone given you an update on where your home equity is right now?”

These are things people actually want to know about. So when you treat everyone like a client, and you do that on a regular basis, you’ll know exactly how to pivot and deliver value when you get someone who’s on the defensive. 

You will always find people that put up walls the instant they smell a sales pitch. But if you know what to say, they’re far more likely to open up down the line—as long as you’re continuously delivering value. 

Be curious

Now you have a better understanding of what it means when people say they have an agent. All the money is in the follow-up in real estate. Those first calls aren’t going to convert right away. 

It’s also important to remember that, if you’re talking to a seller or buyer and you realize they really do have a legal contract signed with another agent, you can’t do anything with that.

Focus on the other two groups. That’s where the conversion opportunity is. 

Most agents just hang up the phone when they hear, “I already have an agent.” They don’t bother to find out the reason behind that statement. They just assume, “Okay, well, they’ve got an agent. Nothing I can do about that. Moving on.” 

And while that response makes sense if the person actually does have an agent and is happy with the way things are going, it’s a wasted opportunity in the other two scenarios. 

When you stay curious, ask additional questions and offer something of value—that’s where magic can happen. 

You can’t control if the prospect already has an agent.

The thing you can control is how you respond. Be as curious as you are committed to serving.