Before you go so far as to file some sort of formal complaint...you might want to start with contacting the managing broker for the office that this agent works for. If this is a larger/franchise type office, there should be a higher authority that this agent answers to who can look into the situation and explain what may or may not have happened.
Beyond that, if this agent is a Realtor member of the Sacramento Association of Realtors, you may file a complaint there. Realtors (as opposed to plain real estate licensees) must uphold the Association bylaws and a code of ethics. If SAR investigates and discovers that there was a violation, that Realtor may be fined or receive some other sort of discplinary action. You can find out more about SAR's dispute resolution here - http://www.sacrealtor.org/dispute-resolution.html
If this agent is not a Realtor, and rather just a CA Department of Real Estate licensee, you can file a complaint with the DRE if that agent committed a fraudulent act. Here is a link to the DRE's comsumer complaint site - http://www.dre.ca.gov/cons_complaint.html
Aside from that, to echo what some of the others have stated - you do not have a binding offer unless it is in writing and signed by both parties (buyer and seller). Unfortunately (and this is not necessarily in defense of any of the agents involved), the banks make and break their own rules ALL THE TIME. I hate to say it, but that world is the wild west. Good luck to you in your home search, and I hope you find a great home soon.
However, take this lesson with you - You DO NOT have a contract until you have the executed contract back and signed by all parties. I know this seems tricky with foreclosures and short sales, but if the bank has truly accepted the offer, you will get the signed documents back. I'm actually looking to purchase in California right now, and I can say from experience there's way too much verbal negotiating there.
Best of luck to you.
In dealing with short sales and foreclosures, where the bank, an entity, has room for decision, you will find problems. There can be problems in any transaction. The thing to remember is the house is not yours until the deal is done and the title has been recorded. It sounds to me that your agent acted in good faith however the listing agent that said you have the house acted in bad faith. Agents don't make decisions for clients. They can not say yes its yours. They can say yes we can submit it and it looks good. Are you sure of what they said exactly? Patience and persistence is the key.
Harold Sharpe - Broker
So Cal Homes Realty
California Department of Real Estate License # 01312992
It's easy to think that this is uncommon and that you simply had a bit of bad luck. Unfortunately this scenario can occur frequently. This market is volatile and can be stressful for all parties involved.
To echo some of the other comments I would agree that you need a strong and experienced agent on your team. That alone would have fixed most of what went wrong. Secondly, document the timelines of events and all communications with email so that if there were improprieties you have evidence to support your claims.
The agents managing Broker (direct supervisor), local Association of Realtors and ultimately the Department of Real Estate will be able to handle your complaints.
You can look up licensed agents at http://www.dre.ca.gov/ to check their status, length of license and if they have any restrictions.
You need an experienced realtor who's a strong negotiator in this market in order to succeed to your ultimate goal of obtaining a house, for a great price at a great loan rate. But expect that whomever you work with, the effort will be fraught with frustrations for both you and the realtor....whether it's a short sale or foreclosed property.
I might suggest that you get informed on the challenges and nuances of each of these two types of listings. Reading through some of the other conversations on Trulia might help. One thing that I think I might have picked up from your question is that you were putting one offer in at a time. Most are not in this market, because there's no guarantees on timeframes for lender approval on short sales, and because of the highly competitive bidding on foreclosures.
I'm not saying your realtor did everything perfect but I'm more inclined it's a matter of not understanding the natural frustration in this market than in anything illegal or immoral that your realtor did.
As a 'Frustrated buyer', you're not alone.
...and since I just noticed that you are listed as under 95660;, I thought I'd give you a heads up on a listing coming up. Since I don't represent both buyer's and sellers on the same transaction, you or your realtor can call me on it. It's a short sale but I expect (hope) for a quick approval. The house is gorgeous.
I am involved in a foreclosure right now, and if I explained everything that has gone wrong with this deal it would take me 10 pages: bank did not have a record of the buyer raising their offer, bank did not respond to listing agentâ€™s phone calls, bank would not speak to me, bank switched listing agents midstream from one only 50 miles from the listing to one 500 miles from the listing (believe it or not), bank moved asset offices to another building causing no communication for 2 weeks. I could go on. Bank had a phrase in the contract stating they had 10 days to accept the buyerâ€™s offer, after they ACCEPTED his offer, or why would they have sent out contracts. Thank God my buyer is patient and trusts me. He doesnâ€™t trust the bank at all, though, but I think itâ€™s just ineptitude on their part, not any kind of monkey business.
You can also file with the state. But again, in order to be successful, you need to format your complaint so as to show a rule that the agent has violated. These are usualy something like fraud or intentional mistake. Being sloppy or lazy will not usualy work.
Show the Broker this question you posted here on Trulia.
See if they can justify their actions.
Working with short sales and banks can be very difficult even for seasoned Brokers.
They may have a valid excuse.
Are you obligated to work with this Real Estate Broker?
Do you have a signed Buyer Brokerage Agreement or similar Contract binding you to work with them?
If not, perhaps you should move on to another Real Estate Agent.
If you feel a complaint is justified:
You could speak to their Broker or Manager if they are not a Broker-Owner.
If you feel they violated a Law,
you can complain to the California Department of Real Estate
Best wishes to you,