Question Details

Housesearcher, Home Buyer in 08833

Are we obligated to use a realtor?

Asked by Housesearcher, 08833 Mon Jul 19, 2010

In Feb, a house came on the market, for sale by owner, near where we currently live. We had been working with a realtor looking at houses in a different area at the time. So she called and set up an appointment for my husband to see it. However, she did not make the half hour drive to see it with us, or provide any additional information on the house. I never saw the house, and around that time, we decided it would be better to wait a few months to buy. Now, 6 months later, the price has dropped, and we are feeling more secure in our jobs. So I finally went to look at it and loved it. The owner mentioned that if he didn't have to pay a realtor, he would cover closing costs (which will be a huge help in getting to a 20% downpayment). And I also feel that there will be much more room to negotiate on the price. We are well past the 90days legal obligation. But are we morally obligated to use her? We are uncertain (i.e. I feel one way, my husband the other). Any opinions?

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First you do know most lenders are not requiring a 20% down payment for conventional loans don't you?

That aside and 6 months later even if you had an exclusive buyers agency agreement I would check the dates on the agreement however all this time gone by and if you're not in communication with that agent over all that period I'd say they have given up on you and they would have a hard time proving procuring cause or for that matter that it is still enforceable.

Check your contracts first but my guess would be that you can do it on your own or at least with a good real estate attorney in your corner.

Victor Kaminski
Broker of Record
Jersey Brokers
2056A Lincoln Hwy. (Rt.27)
Edison, NJ 08817-3330
Office: 732-650-9911 Ext.302
Cellular: 908-884-5757
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 19, 2010
Certainly, offering her compensation of any sort would be appreciated. I also think it's very nice that you are seeking advice and are concerned with trying to do what may the "the right thing" .

All too many people would walk away, not care, and not look back.

Yes, it would be Kosher to do any ot the things you mentioned.
The decision you need to make is whether you want her to represent you or not, then you can plan accordingly.

Best wishes............
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 19, 2010
Just curious if you found out about the home on your own, since it was a FSBO, or if your agent brought it to your attention?

In any event - she didn't take you to see it - I don't thnk that is working for the buyer, especially if she had a buyer broker agreement with you.
Time has elapsed, and from what you said, I will assume any protection period in the agreement has expired.

OK barring any legal obligation you may have - which I don't think you do have - I would take issue with the fact that she didn't put herself out for you in regard to this home. You could have made your own appointment to see a fsbo. She did , according to your rendition - not follow up in regard to this home in any way.

Has she been in touch with you in the past 6 months? Has she updated you on the market? Has she looked to cultivate an ongoing relationship with you?
Take the answers to the above questions into consideration.

Personally - I wouldn't expect a buyer to find me - after 6 months elapsed - to buy a fsbo unless I stayed in touch..... and at least emailed them periodically, or tried to keep them in the real estate loop during the past months.
If I neglected them - shame on me.

Moral obligations are up to each individual. That's between you and your husband.

Now, most agents would agree it would be good business to be represented by an agent - that's a whole other discussion, and that's not exactly what you asked.

As far as how to handle this - if you and your husband want to compromise on your different positions - you might want to offer her - if you feel she was a competent agent - a reduced commission to oversee this sale.
That might keep the peace in your home, and still offer you some more flexibility in the purchase give you representation.

Bottom line - it's up to you!

Good luck.............
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 19, 2010
Ok. A follow-up. The realtor did not find this particular property for us, and in general, since we are rather picky and had a good idea of what we were looking for, most of the houses we saw with her were ones that we had found ourselves. BUT she did take the time to show them to us, maybe 6 to 8 houses, and did help us through one offer that in the end wasn't excepted. And two or three times since, she has sent us a listing or two, but nothing really interesting (not her fault - there is not too much on the marker and we are picky!) So I feel that she has earned some sort of compensation, but $10,000 (what the commission would be) seems excessive for the services rendered, when regardless we will hire a real estate attorney.

A couple of you have mentioned that we could either 1) contact her about taking a lower commision, or 2) give a thank-you check (to her or to the broker?) to let her know that her services were appreciated, even if we didn't use her. We had actually considered these options, but we weren't sure if these types of things are kosher, or how she would respond. Any thoughts on whether these types of things are acceptable?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 19, 2010
The answer lies with you, not with us. If you would feel comfortable bumping into your agent at the mall and telling her that you bought that house she set up for you, then, it's okay.

Often, real estate agents provide value to homebuyers through education - when we show houses, we help buyers get more in-depth knowledge of the particulars that affect market value, that sort of thing. So if you feel that your agent has provided value, you could write her (broker) a check for some amount as a "thank you" for helping you realize that THIS is the place.

Or, not. It's entirely up to the two of you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 19, 2010
Unless you are still under a buyer's contract, if you ever signed one, you owe the agent nothing. I can think of no reason a buyer should ever pay a realtor to be their agent. If you want representation, get a real estate attorney and get something for your money. Otherwise, save money and get a home inspection, negotiate a price and work through title agency.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 19, 2010
I would say no. She didn't take you to see it, it's been six months and you have not purchased anything through her. Did you sign any agreement with her? If not, how in the world has she earned anything by passing along a listing to you? Get a good real estate attorney, a good mortgage broker, and go for it!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 19, 2010
As already noted, whether you're morally obligated to use her is something only you can answer.

Contractually, it depends on anything you may have signed. You note you "are well past the 90 days legal obligation." Make sure you're reading that correctly, but--if you're correct--then contractually you're OK.

Let me guess: You want to buy without the Realtor. Your husband disagrees. (Just sensing that from your answer, though what follows is advice I'd give in either case.)

I'm getting the sense that the party who wants to not use the Realtor thinks she (if my guess is correct) can get a better deal without a professional on your side. The closing cost assistance "will be a huge help" and there will be "much more room to negotiate on the price."

That's where you may be wrong. I'm not arguing in favor of the Realtor you used in February, but it would help to have some sort of professional representing you. First, do you know what the property is worth today? Even if your Realtor did a CMA on the property back in February, you need another one, now. It's possible that the property was overpriced in February and, even with the price reduction, remains overpriced today.

Also, while there may be more room to negotiate on the price if the seller doesn't have to pay a commission, a professional might be a better negotiator than you, and so the net savings could be greater if you used a professional to help you. And there's a lot more to negotiate on than just price.

So while you may be off the hook contractually--and may feel that morally you have little or no obligation to the February Realtor--you'd still probably be better off being represented by someone.

Hope that helps.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 19, 2010
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Burke, VA
If you were under a buyer contract with her, and she was the one who made you aware of the house, yes. If the realtor showed you a bunch of houses and worked many hours with you may want to use her. If you think you can get a better deal thats great, but in every transaction over 200,000 or so, it is best to have representation so you don't get burned.

Always take the higher road.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 19, 2010
The realtor never showed you the house. The realtor never did anything with that house.

If you did not sign an exclusive buyers agreement with that realtor you have no obligation. If you did sign such an agreement look at what was signed for the answer.

If your area changed most realtors would not cover a different area. Thus as the area is different and the agent was not involved I would say no.

The only exception would be if you signed a buyers agreement saying you would pay them when you buy a house. If no such contract exists you are free totally and completely to choose another agent, or to go without one.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 19, 2010
Only you can answer the question as to whether or not you are "morally" obligated to use her. Whether you are legally obligated depends on many factors including the verbage of your contract with your agent - assuming you had one?

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0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 19, 2010
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