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 julia_spir, Real Estate Pro in ,

After 7 months of showing properties, clients go to open house and buy without informing me with the listing agent.

Asked by julia_spir, , Wed Dec 12, 2012

After 7 months of showing properties, client goes to open house and buys without informing me with the listing agent. I did not have a representation contract as I became very good friends with them and never in a million years thought that this would happen and it never did before. I know there is nothing I can do from the legal stand point but wanted to get an opinion on the email I should sent to them?

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Seven months is a LONG time to hang in there with one agent - if, indeed, you were the only agent they were working with. Had you written offers on their behalf, and if so, how many?

A LOT of buyers in a market like this start to develop a sense that they'll be more successful in their negotiations by dealing with only the listing agent, and to a certain extent, that's a valid assumption to come to, especially when the agent they've been working with has not been successful in getting their offer(s) accepted. That is very frustrating to a buyer who's been making LOSING offers for 6 or 7 months, while watching prices go higher every month.

In addition, most listing agents are aware of this, many of whom are just unscrupulous enough to promote their listings in such a way as to "snag" those potentially disloyal "clients", by holding open houses, ( HOW DARE THEY?) or, tactics such as offering reduced commissions to cooperating agents. ( There is a growing number of new listings popping up offering less than 2.5%, for example, and it's not like they're just with short sales.)

So, the moral of the story? The same one I've heard for all of my 36+ years in real estate. It's better to concentrate on getting listings, than it is to work primarily with buyers. And, by the way, as much as it pains me to admit, I lose such a "client" in such a manner every couple of years. You'd think I'd get used to it, after 36+ years, but it still hurts every time - just like it has hurt you, Julia.

Obviously, there is something to be said for only working with buyers with a written buyer's agreement. If they won't agree to sign one, after a week or two of building trust, they MIGHT be the kind of "clients" who will end up hurting you, somewhere down the line.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 12, 2012
At this point it's best to take the high road and learn from your mistakes. Somewhere along the line there could have been a communication breakdown through which the buyers didn't have a clear picture of how you got paid. Or they simply could have been completely dishonest with you because as we know some people are like that. They simply don't care about anyone except themselves, but hopefully that wasn't the case with them.

As sales people we have all experienced something like this at one time or another and not only does it make us angry, but a lot of times we want to lash out in anger and send an email or leave a voice mail telling them how bad we think they are. And that is precisely what you don't want to do.

There really is a possibility that if they clearly didn't understand how you got paid. If you think that might be the case, you could craft an email that first congratulates them on their purchase, and then briefly describing how agents get paid.

Be sincere, and be genuine. If you can't be either of those then don't send anything at all. But I have used that method before and ended up getting referrals out of them out of guilt (though it wasn't my intent but I'll take it however they want to give it), or often the person they ended up with did such a lousy job that they realized on their own how bad of a mistake they made.

Lastly, if they were new buyers you really don't know what the listing agent said to them. I've seen where an agent has implied that the previous agent would get paid after close of escrow, but that all boils down to a he said-she said and is normally not worth pursuing.

Best thing to do is revisit the entire time you spent with them, extract areas where you might have been able to bring them closer to a buying decision, and try to get their next referral. If all else fails, then chalk up the lost commission as tuition for the School of Real Estate Sales. Good luck.
4 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 12, 2012
Don't waste another moment of your time with them. They knew EXACTLY what they were doing. The Listing Agent should have asked if they were working with an Agent (with or without a BRE). This same thing happened to me even though I had a BRE after 2 years and 125 homes shown, the buyer got their license and bought a house that I wrote an offer for them AFTER if went to REO. Not only did she eliminate my commission, she stole it for herself.

Here's what I learned; People like this will come along in our Careers. Take this one as a learning experience. 1) Make sure you have a solid BRE even with good friends or people that become good friends in the process; 2) Every month, send them a list of all the homes you've shown them; 3) Don't waste any additional time with people like this.

I wouldn't give them a second of your time in e-mail or otherwise.

Best of Luck,
Thom Colby
Newport Beach & Palm Desert, CA
3 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 12, 2012
"Congrutulations! You have found a lovely home where you and those important to you can thrive It was a joy working with you these past months. Isn't it nice to know you have a friend in real estate to whom you can introduce your family, friends and neighbors to who can use my help! I will be in your Irvine community Friday. When can I stop by?"
3 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 12, 2012
I wouldn't waste any time or energy sending a scathing email to them quite frankly. Be the bigger, more professional person, simply congratulate them and move on. This kind of stuff is unfortunately par for the course in the real estate sales arena. I do agree with one of the statements below. You should ask them politely "why" they chose to go directly to the listing agent - as opposed to trusting you to handle the transaction.

I wouldn't position the question to them as a result of feeling "scorned", but instead, as a continuous improvement check and balance to ascertain if there was something that could have been done or communicated better on your end.

Hope this helps!
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 12, 2012
Ah, sad but must gain client loyalty and thus the buyers' agreement...signed!!
It always amazes me how hard we work and the buyer does not seem to understand the hours we pour into finding them the right home.
I tell my clients if you go see a house without me you must call me and let me negotiate the deal for you...
Ethics among the brethren are sadly lacking.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 12, 2012
This shouldn't be handled over email, I'd ask for a face-to-face meeting. If they refuse to meet, let them go professionally and personally. These people are obviously not "very good friends" or they wouldn't have done this to you.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 12, 2012
unfortunately there are some people like this in the world. No good can come from going to them with anger, but you might ask them why they didn't use you since you had worked with them for so long. You might learn that you did something to turn them away that you can use later
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 12, 2012

Sorry to hear that, but welcome to the club. It's getting very difficult to find a home these days and buyers are just jumping at anything that comes along. I would just wish them good luck and hope that something goes wrong with the deal and they come back to you.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 12, 2012
Some buyers start to lose faith in their agent after looking so long and not finding anything. I'm not saying it's your fault, that's just how some buyers are. You've already wasted 7 months on them, don't waste any more of your time by sending them an email. Move on, hold an open house and find some new buyers.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 12, 2012
I am so very sorry this happened to you. As said below, some buyers will jump around from agent to agent without thinking twice. I experienced a similar situation my first year in real estate. A buyer I had been working with for several months visited an open house and chose to purchase a house with the listing agent only. I found out later and through the buyer's distant family member that the listing agent told the buyers that working with two agents would present major complications in a real estate transaction, and if they wanted to close on time and without complications they need to work with one agent. After the experience, under no circumstance would I agree to work with a potential buyer without a representation contract.

Buyers in today's market are very savvy and some may take advantage of any "free" opportunity to get what they want and at the expense of another with little consideration. I would suggest not sending an email or any communication and learn from the experience going forward. Good luck to you!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 12, 2012
Back in the day, we had a relationship with a Realtor who had worked very well for us when we bought our home. When it came time to sell, another Realtor was in our home Bible study every week. We couldn't look them in the face and not list with them. The first Realtor very professionally asked me if he had done something wrong. When we explained, he understood, and when our house didn't sell with the first listing, he got it and we got it sold.

A little different scenario, and I'm embarrassed to say I really didn't get what it meant to the first Realtor until I became one myself. I agree with Annette, but wouldn't hesitate to humbly ask for some feedback.

Sorry for the slight! But it is definitely why I always have a buyers rep in place. The agent may well have asked if they had signed a buyers rep with another agent - and they could honestly answer no.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 12, 2012
I've had this happen to me and it sucks big time. I still prefer not to use a representation contract but I know many agents would disagree with me. At this point, all you can do is think about is what you want to do (differently or not) in the next situation.

Whether to email them or a tough call. You probably have nothing to gain...they liked you but obviously did not respect you or your time enough to buy with you.

Think carefully and perhaps even discuss this with your broker.

I empathize.

1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 12, 2012
Welcome to real estate in a tight market. Unfortunately I would guess all that answered you (including me) and many others has had this happen. In my circumstance I had written a previous offer for them and they even called me about another house they saw and wanted to write on it after agreeing with the owner who was there on a price! So I felt pretty confident about them but then they went to an open house in an area I told them about (that they "didn't want") and what do you know... When I talked with them later I asked them about it (in a nice way) and they told me they were basically told if they wanted the house they should write with that agent (listing agent) since there were offers already in and she could give the sellers a better deal all around and get their offer through, I don't believe they really got a better deal but they do.

They were embarrassed and what could I do but report that agent on an ethics violation and assure myself of never getting another of my buyer's offer ever accepted on one of her listings, she does a good amount of work in that community. I was able to ask them just because I bumped into them in the area, their old email address changed and I was getting bounce email messages and no return calls (maybe a clue huh?).

Be PROFESSIONAL, be nice and congratulate them. Tell them you understand they had to do what they felt they had to do. You say you are "very good friends" now then ask them to refer you all their friends and family to make up for the business you lost (choose your words carefully). If you're really not that close and can't get past this then delete them from your data base and don't waste any more of your time or energy on them. Deleting a bad/disrespectful client can be very healing.

Good luck, now get ready for 2013 and kill it!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 13, 2012
Unfortunately this is the underbelly of real estate--it happens. You said you've become friends with them so use that friendship to gain referrals. Wish them the very best in their new home and let them know you would welcome their referrals. They know exactly what they've done so there is no reason to bring it to their attention and make a bad situation worse. As my Mom is fond of saying when someone gives you lemons turn it into lemonade.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 13, 2012
This will happen from time to time, Let it go some people are loyal to no one. I rarely see this because I build a trust relationship early on. If you think about it this client was not gravitating to you but was being chased by you for business. Great service will pull business to you, Stop chasing drifters and your transactions will go well.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 13, 2012
An agent friend who sold two lots outside a famous internet headquarters in No CA called told me she showed the same client a million dollar lot. Next day, the contractor went with the listing agent. The buyer somewhat apologized but it does little if anything to the relationship or bottom line.

With the internet few buyers can not find properties on line. Many do not need a buying agent. Internet has changed a lot the way we do business. Does anyone use a full service stock broker?

Your relationship with client is contingent upon your ability to find them what they want with their terms. You can fire an eMail to share how you feel. May be they will make it up later using you again if they feel guilty about it. I know as an agent I have presented full price offers on my own listings.
The seller cancels the contract with no reason given. Most have to do with greed.

Real estate is never an easy career. That is why so many dropping out and eventually get a 8-5 FT job that pays by the time you work.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 13, 2012

its the ones that are your friends/closest to us that hurt you the most. A lesson that i had to learn myself, the hard way!

I would send an email with the truth of how you feel, but keep it as professional as possible. maybe come from the standpoint that as a professional realtor I wanted to learn from this experience as to how or what, was done or not done to satisfy them as clients.

Maybe, you did nothing wrong but just get feedback as to why they used someone else after I am sure many miles and homes visited with them.

good luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 12, 2012
Dear Julia,

Ouch! I feel your pain...believe me I do!
Well what can I tell you that you don't already know? There isn't anything you can say to them that won't sound unprofessional (lol)....some lessons are really painful to learn, so onward and upward and better luck (exclusive buyer contract) next time.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 12, 2012
So sorry...I know firsthand how disappointing this can be. I had a similar situation happen to me earlier this year, while I had my clients' current home on the market! As was said below, both the agent who worked with them and my clients had to know they were in the wrong. I didn't berate them as I had to sell or rent their condo quickly so they could move to their dream home in the suburbs. I wound up renting out their condo instead of selling it, so hopefully I'll get another shot at it. I agree with taking the high road so that hopefully you can reap at least some benefits through referrals in the future. Again, so sorry!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 12, 2012
Open houses not only have listing agents attending, but often other agents from the listing office wanting to make a sale. That's why it's so important to keep reminding your clients before the weekend, to tell any realtors in a open house that they are already "working with an agent", ask if they would like you to print out a list of open houses, or that you are available to meet them at any open houses. I had this happen to me, however, in my case, the agent knew they were working with an agent, and the agent acted unprofessionally.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 12, 2012
One of the perks of being an agent...I'm with Tom on this one!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 12, 2012
Thank you so much for taking time and responding to the question:)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 12, 2012
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