Question Details

Lulu, Other/Just Looking in Charlottesville, VA

Is it legal for a listing agent to charge me transaction fees if I do not have a buyer contract with them?

Asked by Lulu, Charlottesville, VA Sun Jan 8, 2012

I am under contract to purchase a foreclosure in FL. I used the listing agent to see the house and therefore is the buying agent. However, I never signed anything and she only showed one listing to me. No other work or services were rendered. After purchase price negotiations, I received a document from her informing me of a $195 charge. I asked her what this is for and she said it goes to the broker not her and it is for administrative services. Can I refuse to pay this? Is this legal or ethical?

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Answers

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Why, oh why would you think it is ILLLEGAL!!!
You pay additional fees to your bank, cable company, cell phone carrier, auto dealer and you do not consider them ILLEGAL. Inconvenient yes, Illegal, No. Just like those other fees, you can challenge them. Doing so can have consequences or result in the fees disappearing. The suggest such fees are illegal is silly. Licensed professionals in nearly every discipline are regulated regarding the service for which they are able to charge a consumer. That is the benefit to the consumer for this bureaucratic oversight.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 9, 2012
Lulu,
I can't speak to the legalities, but I don't believe this is a wise business decision. This agent is getting the full listing commission and the buyer's side commission unless they had a different arrangement. If you did not agree to this fee up front, before anything was signed, I can't imagine how it would be enforceable.
You could always call their bluff and just offer to rescind the transaction. I suspect they would find a way to get the fee waived then.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 8, 2012
If you did not agree in writing to this fee, it is possible for you to negotiate not paying the fee. The agent may have to gain permission from the broker to waive it, but that depends on their company policy. If you did not agree to this, just tell the agent you are not willing to pay the fee. I am sure you will be able to work this out. This is a legal and ethical fee as long as there are specific services tied to it. Some companies have specific personnel that is paid to oversee the documentation process, completeness, storage and copying expenses. As a real estate transaction is a major purchase with many legal ramifications, careful documentation is crucial to protect all parties. Just talk to your agent. Communication usually clears things up. Good Luck!
Web Reference: http://tiastanley.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 8, 2012
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