What Does Procuring Cause Mean in Real Estate? A Complete Guide

Procuring cause in real estate is a fundamental concept that addresses the work and effort of a real estate agent that results in a buyer purchasing a home. It forms the basis for determining which agent is entitled to receive the commission on a property sale. The determination of procuring cause involves tracing the events and efforts that directly lead to the completion of a sale.

A real estate agent shows a property to a client who later purchases it. The agent is the procuring cause of the sale

In cases where multiple agents have interacted with the buyer, identifying the procuring cause can become complex. Real estate professionals must navigate these situations with an understanding of the factors that define procuring cause, as well as the legal considerations and precedents that influence these decisions. When disputes arise, clear documentation and communication are essential for resolving which agent initiated the uninterrupted series of events leading to the sale.

Key Takeaways

  • Procuring cause identifies the agent entitled to commission based on their efforts leading to a sale.
  • Disputes over procuring cause require careful consideration of the event sequence and legal guidelines.
  • Real estate professionals must maintain detailed records to support their claim as the procuring cause.

Understanding Procuring Cause in Real Estate

Procuring cause in real estate is a complex concept that hinges on which agent’s work led to the culmination of a sale. It determines which agent earns the commission in a transaction involving multiple agents.

Definition of Procuring Cause

Procuring cause refers to a series of events or actions by a real estate agent that results in the successful sale of a property. It must be a direct and continuous effort that starts with the agent introducing the buyer to the property and ends with the completion of the sale. To be the procuring cause, an agent’s actions must be more than just incidental to the transaction.

Roles and Responsibilities of Real Estate Agents

Real estate agents serve as intermediaries between buyers and sellers. Their responsibilities include:

  • Identifying properties: They introduce potential properties to buyers.
  • Negotiating deals: They negotiate terms on behalf of their clients.
  • Facilitating communication: They maintain an open line of communication between all parties involved.
  • Ensuring disclosures: They make sure all necessary disclosures are made and understood.

Principles of Procuring Cause

The following are key principles in establishing procuring cause in a real estate transaction:

  1. Unbroken Chain: There must be an unbroken chain of events provided by an agent or broker that leads to the ultimate transaction.

  2. Effort and Influence: The work of the agent must significantly contribute to the decision process of the buyer.

  3. First Introduction: Oftentimes, the agent who first introduces the property to the buyer is considered when determining procuring cause.

  4. Abandonment: If there’s a substantial period where the agent does not communicate with the buyer, it may break the chain of procuring cause.

By considering these elements, disputes over which agent is entitled to commission can be assessed more fairly.

The Impact of Procuring Cause on Commissions

A real estate agent presents a property to a client, while another agent shows the same property to a different client. Both agents claim procuring cause for the commission

In real estate, the determination of procuring cause directly influences who receives commission from a sale. This concept is foundational in ensuring just compensation for the agent responsible for successfully closing a transaction.

Commission Structure in Real Estate Transactions

Real estate agents typically earn compensation through commissions, which are contingent upon the successful sale of a property. These commissions are a significant portion of an agent’s income, often ranging from 5-6% of the property’s sale price. Importantly, this commission is shared among the listing and buying agents in a manner agreed upon within their brokerage arrangements.

How Procuring Cause Affects Commission Claims

Procuring cause refers to the series of events that lead to the successful transaction of a property due to the direct efforts of an agent. An agent who establishes themselves as the procuring cause is then entitled to the commission. Establishing proof of procuring cause requires demonstrating that the agent’s actions were directly responsible for the buyer’s decision to complete the purchase.

Common Issues with Commission and Procuring Cause

Disputes can arise when multiple agents claim to be the procuring cause of a sale. This may occur when a buyer interacts with several agents or when the buyer re-engages with a property after initially viewing it with a different agent. Such disputes are often resolved through arbitration, where the particulars of each agent’s involvement and the continuity of events leading to the sale are thoroughly examined.

Navigating Procuring Cause Disputes

A real estate agent points to a house while talking to a client. Another agent looks on, both vying for credit in a procuring cause dispute

In the real estate industry, effectively managing procuring cause disputes is crucial in ensuring that agents are justly compensated for their efforts in a transaction. As disputes arise over who is entitled to commission, a clear understanding of the typical scenarios, dispute resolution processes, and the function of a hearing panel is essential.

Scenarios Leading to Procuring Cause Disputes

Procuring cause disputes occur when multiple agents claim commission for the sale of a property. These conflicts frequently emerge when a buyer interacts with several agents or when there is confusion about which agent’s efforts led to the buyer’s decision to purchase. Some common scenarios include:

  • A buyer first tours a property with one agent, then makes an offer through another.
  • An agent claims their marketing and initial work with a buyer led to a later sale by a different agent.
  • Disagreement about the continuity of an agent’s service provision to the buyer.

Dispute Resolution: Arbitration and Mediation

When a procuring cause dispute arises, parties often turn to arbitration or mediation before seeking legal recourse. The key differences are:


  • Formal process with a binding decision.
  • A neutral arbitrator hears evidence from all parties.
  • The arbitrator’s decision is usually final and enforceable.


  • An informal, non-binding process.
  • A mediator facilitates negotiation between parties to find a mutually acceptable resolution.
  • Mediation can preserve professional relationships, as the solution is collaborative.

Role of the Hearing Panel

The hearing panel plays a vital role in resolving commission disputes through arbitration. The panel typically consists of real estate professionals with substantial experience. Their responsibilities include:

  • Reviewing Evidence: All documentation and testimony related to the dispute.
  • Impartial Decision Making: Panel members must remain unbiased, basing decisions solely on the evidence presented.
  • Final Ruling: The panel issues a decision determining the rightful recipient of the commission based on the procuring cause guidelines.

The use of a hearing panel usually follows a set of ethical guidelines, such as those developed by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), which can include procedures for selecting panel members and conducting the arbitration hearing.

Legal Considerations and Case Law

In the context of real estate, legal intricacies deeply affect the interpretation and enforcement of procuring cause. Case law and state-specific regulations define and refine its application.

Key Legal Precedents

Procuring cause is a legal concept used in determining which real estate agent is entitled to a commission on the sale of property. This determination hinges on establishing an unbroken sequence of events leading to the sale. The pivotal legal question usually revolves around which agent’s actions were the most directly responsible for the buyer’s decision to purchase the property. Case law in this realm has established that the eligibility for the commission depends on continuity, effort, and the broker’s role in negotiating the sale.

  • Continuity: The agent must show a seamless and substantial involvement leading up to the sale.
  • Effort: Demonstrating sufficient effort in bringing about the buyer’s decision is crucial.
  • Negotiation: The agent’s part in the negotiation process directly correlates with establishing procuring cause.

State Regulations and Variations

Regulations surrounding procuring cause can vary by state, impacting how cases are settled when disputes arise. Each state may have its own statutes and precedent-setting case law that influence procuring cause determinations, and agents must be well-versed in their particular state’s requirements.

  • Statutes: State statutes may define specific actions or sequences of events that establish procuring cause.
  • Precedents: Courts within the state utilize these statutes and previous rulings to resolve procuring cause disputes.

It’s essential for real estate professionals to understand both the overarching legal principles of procuring cause and the more nuanced state-specific rules that govern their transactions.

Best Practices for Real Estate Professionals

In the competitive field of real estate, certain practices can position professionals for success. These involve clear communication, understanding client needs, and meticulous documentation to ensure the procuring cause is honored.

Effective Communication Strategies

Real estate professionals must prioritize communication to build trust and clarity with clients. They should:

  • Establish clear communication channels: Whether through emails, calls, or face-to-face meetings, define the preferred method and frequency of updates.
  • Be responsive: Timely responses to inquiries and concerns reassure clients and can be crucial in negotiations.

Managing Client Expectations

A real estate professional adeptly navigates client interactions by:

  • Setting realistic goals: Clearly outline what is achievable in the current market.
  • Explaining processes: Walk customers through every step of the transaction to prevent misunderstandings.

Documentation and Record Keeping

Proper records serve as the foundation for establishing procuring cause and defending a commission claim:

  • Maintain a transaction timeline: Keep a detailed account of all actions taken, from the initial property showing to the closing.
  • Document correspondence: Store all communication with clients, cooperating brokers, and listing agents to substantiate the series of events leading to the sale.

Working with Multiple Agents and Brokers

In the realm of real estate transactions, engaging with multiple agents and brokers can be complex. It is vital for all parties to understand the intricacies of dual agency, co-brokerage arrangements, and buyer-broker agreements to ensure transparent and fair dealings.

Avoiding Pitfalls of Dual Agency

Dual agency occurs when a real estate agent represents both the buyer and the seller in a transaction. While this can streamline communication, it raises potential conflicts of interest. To mitigate this:

  • Parties should provide informed consent in writing, acknowledging the dual agency.
  • An agent must maintain neutrality, avoiding the advancement of the interests of one party over the other.
  • Disclosure of any dual agency should be made early in the transaction to all parties involved.

Co-Brokerage Arrangements and Open Houses

Co-brokerage arrangements involve partnerships between real estate agents to sell a property. They are common when an agent specializing in a type of property or area partners with another who has a potential buyer. With open houses, buyers might encounter multiple agents. To clarify roles:

  • Agencies should define terms of co-brokerage in writing before an open house event.
  • Agents should disclose their relationships with any party when interacting with visitors at an open house.

Understanding Buyer-Broker Agreements

A buyer-broker agreement is a contract that formalizes the relationship between a buyer and their real estate agent. It details the agent’s responsibilities and the compensation they will receive. Buyers working with multiple agents should understand:

  • The agreement often stipulates exclusivity, meaning the buyer should not work with other agents during the period.
  • It usually outlines the duration of the agreement, commission structure, and the agent’s duties.
  • Buyers should read and fully comprehend this agreement to avoid disputes related to procuring cause.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we address specific queries related to procuring cause in real estate, offering clear explanations on how it’s established, the guidelines surrounding it, and methods to prevent disputes.

How is procuring cause determined in a real estate transaction?

In a real estate transaction, procuring cause is determined by identifying the agent whose actions and efforts directly led to the consummation of a sale. This includes the initial introduction of the property to the buyer and continuous involvement in the negotiation process.

What are the essential guidelines to understand procuring cause in real estate?

The essential guidelines to understand procuring cause center around the continuity and effectiveness of an agent’s efforts in bringing about a sale. The National Association of REALTORS® often refers to an “unbroken chain” of events leading to the sale as critical for establishing procuring cause.

In what ways can a broker establish themselves as the procuring cause of a sale?

A broker can establish themselves as the procuring cause of a sale by demonstrating a series of actions that effectively connected the buyer to the property and facilitated the sale’s closure. This can involve providing essential property information, negotiating terms, and maintaining communication with the buyer.

What constitutes the key factor for substantiating procuring cause?

The key factor for substantiating procuring cause is showing a direct connection between the agent’s efforts and the successful outcome of the transaction. This typically means the agent played a pivotal role from the property viewing to the final transaction, without interruption by external factors.

How can real estate disputes over procuring cause be prevented?

Real estate disputes over procuring cause can be prevented by ensuring clear communication among all parties, thorough documentation of interaction and services provided, and upholding professional standards. Agents should also inform clients about exclusive representation agreements to avoid confusion.

Which actions would identify an agent as the procuring cause in a property sale?

Actions that identify an agent as the procuring cause in a property sale include establishing the initial relationship with the buyer, persistently following up with the buyer, and delivering essential services that lead to the ultimate decision to purchase the property in question.

About the author

Nina Sheridan is a seasoned author at Latterly.org, a blog renowned for its insightful exploration of the increasingly interconnected worlds of business, technology, and lifestyle. With a keen eye for the dynamic interplay between these sectors, Nina brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her writing. Her expertise lies in dissecting complex topics and presenting them in an accessible, engaging manner that resonates with a diverse audience.