Home Buying in Northborough>Question Details

Emily, Home Buyer in Northborough, MA

Is it legal for a realtor to show up at someone's home and badger them into signing them on as a buyer agent?

Asked by Emily, Northborough, MA Tue Jun 9, 2009

My Mom and Dad are 79. They have contemplated buying a new house. A realtor who has an office near them showed them several properties several months ago. They have not contacted the agent since. Then out of no where the agent shows up at their house and spends over two hours badgering my Mom and Dad until they sign papers making her their sole buyer agent. Isn't this kind of practice illegal? Shame on Coldwell Banker!

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Is it legal? It is not illegal, but is it wrong, totally inappropriate and out of line? Hell yes! However, I would suggest that no one can make someone do anything they do not want to do. Of course, I am not talking about waterboarding or holding a loaded gun to your head. I have clients that are well over 79 years old and they are still very acute, even savvier than some x-gener’s I know. So I think you would need to elucidate as to your meaning of ‘badger’. Pitching one’s services is something most agents do, be they seller or buyer agents. This is a very competitive business, but experienced professionals know that the hard sell does not work. No one likes to be ‘sold’, and being pushy will actually drive most people in the opposite direction. I would suggest you have your parents write a letter to the agent’s principal stating their displeasure and asking to be released from the agreement. I would bet the agreement will be nullified and from now on your parents can tell anyone soliciting them to speak to you first. There are a lot of very good responses to your question, I am just adding M2C. Also, some licensees present the Mandatory Agency Disclosure form as being a contract; it is not.
Web Reference: http://www.SplitRockRE.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 2, 2009
Shame on them ruining the reputation of all outstanding agents abroad! Call or write/email the agents broker and complain. Also file a complaint with the agents board of Realtors and the Massachusetts
Licensure Board. Here is the link

Please file the complaints as this kind of behavior makes it very hard for genuine agents to change the perception. Hopefully filing complaints will get this agent out of the business so it doesn’t happen to other consumers!

Good Luck...feel free to contact me for any ethical non pressured RE information!
my blog: http://www.annmariesblog.com
(508)523-2676 cell/text
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 30, 2009
Hi Emily,

So sorry to hear your story about your Mom and Dad. Please do not judge all of us realtors on the action of one agent. Standard practice for what is asked of us when we first meet a client and show them a property is to have them sign an Agency Disclosure Form, which basically states the definition and responsibilities of a Buyer's Agent, Seller's Agent, and a Dual Agent - that's it. If the client refuses to sign this document, they need to check off the statement at the bottom saying so. There is another contract called the Buyer's Agency Contract, which then goes into certain terms stating that the buyer will work with us exclusively, having us as their Buyer's Agent, and for a certain period of time as stated in the contract and agreed between both parties. This is more binding in that it is an agreed contract between both buyer and agent, but can still be terminated within reason.

That being said, I always present the Agency Disclosure form to buyers I work with on our first meeting so they understand how I would work as their Buyer's Agent. I ask them to sign it so as to give me a fair chance to see how we would work together to find them a home. If people refuse to sign it (which most don't), then to me, that tells me that maybe they won't be as loyal to want to work with me in the future, so maybe I shouldn't put as much time in with them either. If I am going to be loyal to them in helping them find a home, I would expect the same chance in return from the buyers. Then if we're not a good fit for each other and they wish to work with someone else (or maybe I decide we're not the right fit), then we part ways.

Now, I am curious about one thing here - why did your parents not contact the agent again after showing them multiple properties months ago? Did they not like the way the agent was working with them or maybe wasn't showing them the homes they wanted to see? In any case, the agent shouldn't have gone to the home and made your parents feel uncomfortable about signing any documents that really should have been presented upfront and in a more professional and explained manner. I'd write up a complaint against the agent and submit it to the Broker of the office, as well as to the Worcester Realtor's Association. Again, what the agent did was probably not "illegal" but it definitely wasn't most ethical!

I hope your parents aren't shunned away from using a realtor now when thinking about buying a home. As you can see from the responses, we are also outraged with that one agent's performance and unprofessionalism! I have worked with many different buyers, from the first time home buyer to the more seasoned home buyers in Worcester County, so if you'd like some help with your parents' situation, feel free to contact me and I wish your parents well on their search for a home. The home buying experience shouldn't start off that way.

Angela Dolber
Prudential Prime Properties
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 10, 2009
Absolutely not!!! It is not OK. A true professional would not badger anyone. I am a Coldwell Banker agent and I sure hope you do not judge us all by that action. Ann Scott Rodgers
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 10, 2009
Hello Emily,

The first course, and potentially least agravating and aggressive, is to approach the brokerage with the issue and attempt to resolve it there. That leaves out all of the headaches and aggravations, etc. If they signed a contract make sure it is completely null and void to prevent complications later if they do choose another Agent/Broker.

If your parents feel that they have been taken advantage of, coerced or otherwise forced into signing papers they never would have under normal circumstances then they do have recourse. They may not want to take legal action in so far as an Attorney is concerned but if they do here is a MA State backed WEB site that lists legal resources available to them http://www.800ageinfo.com/links/index.cfm. The MA Attorney General also offers a consumer complaint and free mediation service if needed http://www.mass.gov/ag. If your incident is better served by a local agency they will refer you there. The MA State Government and AG has many elderly services to help protect their elderly residents.

You can most certainly approach local, state or national association they belong to and lodge a complaint with them. However, unless MA is different, associations have no power over the persons license and generally can only expell them from the association. The person will still be licensed to go out and repeat any transgressions again. Additionally this is just one more step you would have to go through complete with any delays, aggravations, etc. The MA Board Of Registration has control over RE Agent/Broker licensing and hence control over their license http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=ocasubtopic&L=4&L0=Home&… They would have the authority to investigate, or request an investigation, into any unethical/illegal conduct of a licensed member.

Good luck and hope it works out.

Emmanuel J. Scanlan
PS Inspection & Property Services LLC
214-418-4366 (cell)
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Knowledge is power, but sharing knowledge brings peace!!
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 10, 2009
BTW just to be clear, only the agent is REQUIRED to sign the mandatory disclosure and present it to all prospective clients.

Though prospective buyers and sellers are encouraged to sign them to acknowledge receipt of them, they are not required to sign them and there is an option on all the forms that indicate that the client refused to sign.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 10, 2009
If I may, I'd like to put a different perspective on this.

First of all, regardless what they signed, of course your parents have the right to fire the agent. Also, in Massachusetts, there are mandatory forms and disclosures that are NOT contracts that must be signed in order to proceed with any real estate business with a real estate professional. I presume that your parents specifically signed an exclusive buyer's agreement IN ADDITION to these mandatory disclosures.

BTW If the agent has not taken them to see any properties since signing the papers, then the agent has no "work" to lay claim to. To be complete, your parents can put their "dismissal" in writing and send it return receipt to the agent's office and refuse further communication from the agent. But no one can force someone to accept his/her services.

Second, it is in everyone's interest to work on contract (both the client and agent). This is the current standard of professionalism in the real estate world. You wouldn't have a builder begin work on your kitchen without a contract, why would you initiate a real estate effort without a contract? On the other hand, if it were YOUR job, you wouldn't begin your work without a letter or some other form of contract of employment from the employer, why should a real estate agent work without a contract? Contracts can be terminated ... but if there isn't one, then there isn't anything to reference should things not work out right (in fact, there wouldn't be a clear definition of what "right" was!)

What probably should have happened is that a contract should have been drawn, even if it was for a day or a weekend, for the time the agent spent in taking your parents around those several months ago. It would make clear what was done, what wasn't done and what was to be done. And it would have ended on whatever the end date of that contract was.

Last, but certainly not least, if indeed the real estate agent with whom your parents were dealing truly is a Realtor ... then he/she violated the Realtor's code of ethics if he/she was working with them WITHOUT an understood contract up front. http://www.realtor.org/MemPolWeb.nsf/pages/COde ... of course, if there is no work to be done, then there is no need to have a contract. If your parents aren't currently in the market to buy a house, terminate the contract.

If the agent is indeed a Realtor and has indeed violated the Code of Ethics, which provide rules of engagement above and beyond the law, then complaints about a Realtor who violates the Code of Ethics can be brought before the board for proper handling.

The bottomline, what the agent did may not have been illegal, but it may have been unethical ... and in real estate, there is still something that you can do about that.

I hope that helps.
Web Reference: http://www.commonmoves.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 10, 2009
Are your parents concerned about this? How were your parents coerced? I think it is funny that everyone is expressing outrage, but we don't know to what.

Do they want to buy a home? Is she going to help them?

Your parents are thinking of buying a home; an agent that had shown them property before came to their home. The agent spent 2 hours with your parents. Your parents signed a buyers agency agreement with her.

If your parents want out, it is probably not that hard to get our of the agreement (I don't practice in MA, so don't rely on this) if they haven't acted on it. But, if your parents want to buy a place, hiring a buyers agent who is willing to meet with them and spend whatever time they need with them, is a good thing.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 9, 2009

That practice is totally uncalled for! I would report them to the Worcester Regional Association of Realtors and also put in a complaint to the agents manager. Congratulations to your parents for their endeavor on buying a new home! I would suggest you put on paper that they are firing their agent and the reason(s) why. Then submit the letter to the agent and the agents broker. Your parents need an agent that is going to be thinking of them first. When I work with a buyer or buyers, I do not require them to sign a buyers agency agreement. Not all relationships are a perfect match. My next suggestion would be to find an agent that is an SRES certified agent. SRES (Senior Real Estate Specialist) are agents that have gone through a two day training and are certified by the National Association of Realtors on knowing the special requirements needed when dealing with senior buyers/sellers. Each buyer has special requirements or needs and their agent should be knowledgeble on how to best deal with them.

I am a former Coldwell Banker agent and agents such as this one give all realtors a bad name. If I can be of assistance in helping you find out whom to contact to register a complaint, please feel free to contact me. My email is jmansfield@weichertnewengland.com. I wish you and your parents the best!

John Mansfield,ABR,SRES
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 9, 2009
Ew! Sounds very unprofessional to me. A client should never be forced or coerced into signing documentation. I am so sorry to hear about such a bad experience.

On the flip side, it is great that your parents are looking for a home and they have a daughter who cares so much for their well being.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 9, 2009
This is why traditional agencies are quickly going out of style. Its not ilegal per se but disgusting! Based on this story, your parents should fire them immediately (write a note to the head broker cc'ng the agent stating the exact above story and let them know you are terminating the home buyer relationship). Sorry you and your family are dealing with this -certainly takes any excitement/enjoyment out of looking for a home. Feel free to reach out to us if you need any guidance through the situation: help@territoryre.com or 617-848-5407 extension 704
Good luck!!! http://www.territoryre.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 9, 2009
Oh that is SO awful ! You can also call the Board of Realtor's. That is hideous behaviour. I certainly hope there is another side to this story. 79 and buying a house ! Pretty cool !
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 9, 2009
Of course, I don't know all of the circumstances of this incident, but If I were you, I would call that agent's employing Broker at the office, explain how the signatures were obtained and request that your parents be allowed out of the contract immediately.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 9, 2009
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