Home Buying in Massachusetts>Question Details

Chris Gerace, Home Buyer in Amesbury, MA

Listing agent husband flips houses, she shared sellers counteroffer with him as he made a cash offer that was accepted. Is this legal, any recourse?

Asked by Chris Gerace, Amesbury, MA Sat Dec 29, 2012

The offer was $180,000 for a home listed at $219,000. The sellers came back with $192,000. Contemplating a counter I find out that the house is under agreement. When I reached out to my buyer agent, who just happens to own the real estate agency the house was listed under, she confirms that the house is under agreement. Her agent who had the property listed claims a cash buyer came in with a "strong offer" stating they would not do an inspection, when the house has many of issues that would make an inspection paramount. The listing agent's husband happens to own a company that specializes in fixing up and flipping houses. Because our offer is only a week old and this house has been on the market without much interest since Sept. I am assuming she made her husband aware of the low offer/counter-offer as we were never informed by the selling agent or our buyer agent that another offer was made. This company still has my $1,000 check from my offer and never made me aware o

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Hi Chris,
Please keep in mind situations like this happen frequently in our area. The Amesbury market is very competitive right now as you are experiencing. Combine this with the unusual situation you have described and the fact that your buyers agent doesn't seem to be providing you with the information you need it's easy to feel as though you have been left out of the loop.

If the seller didn't accept your offer your check may not have been deposited.

When you received the counter offer from the seller it most likely came with a deadline for response to accept. In the future a good thing to keep in mind is that until you have a written contract with all terms agreed upon the seller does not have any obligation to you.
Counter offers can be withdrawn at anytime and sellers are not required to notify any other parties if they are moving to accept another offer.

The amount of available homes is lower than usual right now in town but right around the middle of January you will start to see a drastic increase in inventory as the spring market sellers start to list their homes.

I wish you the best of luck the next time around. If you have any questions feel free to call me.

1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 29, 2012
Problem #1:
Never work with a "buyers" agent that takes/has listings OR works for a firm that takes/has listings. Get yourself an exclusive buyer's agent so that your interests are protected at all times.

The below is in response to and based on the limited information given on this forum:

In regards to the check, if an offer contract was not fully executed by both parties it should be returned to you immediately. The check should not have been deposited either, again, unless there was execution of an offer contract by all parties. I suggest you get a real estate attorney involved should you run into any more issues as it relates to the deposit.

We are not real estate attornies - and if you want to know if you have legal recourse you should retain one - however we deal with multi bid scenarios all the time and unfortunately there aren't any laws in Massachusetts that protect buyer's (or sellers) in them. Therefore it is well within the sellers right to accept the deal of their choice. That said, it appears based on the (one sided) info you provided the ethical nature of how this deal was handled by the agents involved could be in question and therefore it may behoove you to make a complaint to the MLS. As an agency working exclusively with buyers that sees/hears these kinds of terrible stories all too often we would encourage you to make that complaint to the MLS. Our mission is to make sure buyers are educated and protected equally to sellers under the system.

Hope that helps!

Massachusetts Premier Buyer Brokerage
617 848 5407 x701
Web Reference: http://territory.com/
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 7, 2013
You should be consulting your attorney rather than this forum.
There is too much info not in your question to provide an opinion/answer that would be correct or useful.

(Please note: when you choose an answer as a Best Answer, or at least give a thumbs up, it helps those who answer questions here.)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 1, 2013
If I were a seller and someone offered me a cash offer with no inspection on an old home that may have some issues it would be an attractive offer. You don't know what other agreements went along with that, but there are other homes out there ...it's a buyer's market.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 29, 2012
You most definitely should get your $1000 back.

As for all the appropriateness of everything else, that gets a bit trickier. The seller's agent must act in the best interests of the seller. The buyer's agent must act in the best interests of the buyer. Whether these agents did so may be up to the interpretation of the Real Estate Board.

Given the relationship between your agent and the listing agent, a lot of questions come to mind. Does the company practice seller/buyer agency or do they practice designated agency? If your agent is also the broker of the agency, you may have a dual agency situation. Were you made aware of this? Did you sign the consent and notification forms?

It's hard to tell without knowing all the particulars. As with most things legal, I recommend that you consult an attorney or perhaps the Massachusetts Association of Realtors to get judgement on this case. All we can do here is speculate.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 29, 2012
Sounds like you have a buyers agency agreement with the agent owner of the office. Also contract law says that they presented you the counter offer which you could either except or not, within a reasonable time.

The listing agent took your information and provided to a 3rd party her husband, sounds as though she unless she had the sellers authority is in violation of her fuduciary obligations to get the highest price for the seller.

I would contact my attorney, let the owner of the office know that you are going to seek every legal option available to you including 93A

But be sure it was her husband.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 29, 2012
As a selling agent, our job is to work in the sellers best interest. When an offer is received the selling agent normally calls all other interested parties/agents to let them know and hopefully elicit a higher offer. We can't share the offer price, but often it does end in a higher offer coming in. It is the sellers decision in the end what to accept.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 29, 2012
It is the SELLER's choce, who's offer they accept, not the Listing Agent.
Any DISCLOSURES are between the Principles; in this case, the Seller, the Buyer and the Realtors.
You are not part of that circle; you didn't have a Contract with any of them.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 29, 2012
The listing agent works for the seller, so the claim would be the seller against thier listing agent. In your case the list agent would have to give you the counter unless the seller choose not to counter you and only go with a cash buyer. You can always call your state real estate commission which can look into it or hire an attorney who can review your offer and details.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 29, 2012
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