bridgesofswr…, Both Buyer and Seller in Florida

Listing Realtor changed MLS without consent. Pressuring me to sell low and move on with my life. If I don't, can he sue for full commission?

Asked by bridgesofswranches, Florida Thu Nov 7, 2013

Day 1: Realtor presented 3 possible “net to seller” amounts and we signed 180 day listing agreement.
Day 46: Had independent appraisal done. It was lower than realtor’s 3 presented price points.
Day 70: Realtor represented me in purchase of 2nd home in preparation for sale of this home and downsizing move. He was confident we would sell soon.
Day 80: Realtor made three $100 reductions in price without my written consent.
Day 89: Realtor in sent email to me saying I’ve rejected 4 offers. I’ve only received 1 in writing. I’m afraid to get sued by broker if I say or do anything with which they disagree.

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BEST ANSWER
A lot of stuff here. No one can force you to sign a deal. The listing agreement may state whether or not you wanted to be presented with verbal offers, if you did not, maybe he counted the other 3. During your purchase I find it hard to believe that you didn't discuss the need/strategy to sell your current home and what marketing/price strategy would be needed to make that happen. Doing small price reductions is a strategy that gets your listing sent out to everyone that has a buyer in your price range. It keeps your listing in front of the Realtor community.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 7, 2013
Gary, thanks for such a quick response.
(1) Yes, the listing agreement displayed options about receiving offers. The realtor had marked "not to inform us" but I crossed that out and asked to be informed about all offers. He counted 3 verbal and 1 written. What I regret is that I didn't ask to see something in writing related to the 3 verbal offers. Its the tone of the text messages. As if I rejected them and their figures were great.
(2) Yes, we did discuss the need to sell our current home first. We assured and reassured by the broker, the agent, the office manager, the realtor's associate that I should be grateful this realtor was my listing agent. Everyone was confident we would sell and sell at a good price. Literally 12 hours after we closed on the townhouse, the realtor's associate sent an text saying we were in a hard to sell location. We needed to re-set our expectations. Most listings expired without sales. We needed to be reasonable. I'm devasted.
Flag Thu Nov 7, 2013
Good Morning ,

Clearly we do not have your realtor's perspective here as a point of reference, but with that said based on what you are describing, the actions of your realtor are far from professional and completely an unacceptable way to do business. Without know the listing agreement you signed and the provisions for cancelation it is hard to provide you with guidance. As a realtor, I can only provide guidance, not legal advise. Most listing agreements do have ways in which you can cancel the listing agreement prior to the expiration date. The realtor has violated the terms by lowering your price without your written consent, that is a big no no, and not the best way to market your property. Any changes in price must be approved by the seller. Yes a price adjustment can generate some interest in a property, but so too can an open house, as does your agent sending out email to all agents that may have already shown your home. With an active real estate market here in South Florida I can attest that homes that are properly priced do go under contract within a matter of days, as we have a low inventory and many qualified buyers. Your listing agreement may have a clause that by paying a cancellation fee, you are able to cancel the agreement. The general idea of a listing agreement is to protect both the seller and the realtor, and at the end of the day, it is for the most part an employment agreement between a seller and a realtor. If a realtor is not doing the job as required, they can be fired, it happens all the time.

My suggestion would be to cancel your listing agreement with the realtor and if there is a cancellation fee, pay it. I would advise the realtor that should he/she not release you from the listing agreement that you will file a complaint with the local board, and the Florida Real Estate Commision. You can request these complaint forms from these organizations and then forward all the pertinent documents along with your complaint showing the violations. You need to set out to find an agent that is very familiar with your area and a proven track record, that in turn knows how to work like a true professional.

I wish you the best.

Lila Lopez, CRS, CPDE, e-Pro
RE/MAX Advance Realty
homesbylila@yahoo.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 8, 2013
Lila,
Sorry, my thanks and post splt into two. Here is the rest:
3. Realtor urged us to buy the townhouse – only to later admit that houses in our area are very hard to sell. Most realtor listings expire without any sales because we are in a remote, lesser known area. This information was not disclosed - until after we bought the townhouse.
4. Realtor changed our MLS 3 times without our written consent. When confronted, the listing agent said, ”Oh, I thought you had signed it.”

And most important: Thank you.
Flag Sun Nov 10, 2013
Lila, thanks for your response. Great advice, we checked the listing agreement, no cancellation fee clause. I do plan to complain with the Florida Board of Realtors about the listing agent/realtor about the following:

1. Realtor suggested selling and listing price that was too high and he did so to get the exclusive listing. When we purchased an independent appraisal a month later, he kept urging us that the house would sell even higher than appraised value – until after we bought a townhouse. He never presented comparable listings.
2. Realtor promised to have our home displayed in a prominent local community magazine ad. We killed ourselves to have the house interior and landscaping made “picture perfect” in order to meet that magazine deadline and have the pictures taken. When I asked a month later about the ad, the realtor said print media never worked. He had not submitted the pictures to the magazine.
3. Realtor urged us to buy the townhouse – only to later admit t
Flag Sun Nov 10, 2013
Are any of the 4 offers (if he finally produced them) anywhere near the price you had agreed to sell for or the appraised value? If you signed a listing agreement for 6 months I am pretty sure the desire to sell and move on was in there, right? Why are you worried that you will get sue by the Broker? Are you trying to walk from the listing agreement? I don't know where your home is located but more than 60 days on the market with no "interesting" sales activity is a clear sign of an over-priced property taking into consideration the lack of inventory in South Florida. If your home is located in Miami Dade or Broward County please email me the address and I will be happy to look at the value for you, I have been doing property valuations (BPO) for the past 7 years and I can provide you with a pretty accurate estimate of value. A CMA generated by MLS which is typically what most Realtors use as indication of value in their listing presentation is not always the right approach.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 8, 2013
Ms. Diaz,
Thanks for you response:We’re worried about the broker because the price kept going down and down on the MLS until we stopped it. If we had not caught it and a full price offer according to the list price came in, we’d be liable for the commission, so we thought.

90 days on the market: 30 days at the realtor’s suggested listing price: not the realtor’s suggested listing prices – which was $64,000 above appraisal. 30 days at $44,000 above appraisal. 30 days at $10,000 above appraisal. Now back up to 30-60 listing price – which at least seemed to generate one verbal offer close to appraised value.

The highest verbal offer came in between the 30-60 day mark. It was below the market value and we countered “verbally” and suggested the written offer be increased three thousand ($3000) more. The prospect never responded back or made a written offer.
Flag Sun Nov 10, 2013
Very trying situation, and difficult to fully evaluate without the agent's perspective. Bottom line, though, you need to either get the house sold or take it off the market. $100 price reductions aren't really price reductions at all, they are, as Gary pointed out, a means of getting your listing at the top of the list on MLS and in front of many realtors simultaneously. There are clearly frustrations on both sides of the table and we, as humans, respond to our frustrations differently. Your agent needs to be professional and you need to be as unemotional as you can. I suspect, and I'm no attorney, that your concern over being sued is unwarranted...your agent has a weak case against you if he grossly over-inflated the value of the home as indicated by the appraisal. More importantly, however, you need to get the house sold, which is going to likely require some major adjustments in price. Do NOT take the appraisal as gospel. I've seen many appraisals that were absolutely awful, so it's entirely possible that the agent's value estimate was better than the appraiser's. Consider getting a BPO (Broker's Price Opinion) from a disinterested third party agent. You'll pay less for that than an appraisal. Shop for it with great care...ask around, find someone known for their acumen in pricing real estate and see where their opinion comes in relative to the other numbers (agent's price and appraisal price). Then, with a better understanding of the value of the home, price it aggressively and get it sold. If you're really unhappy with your agent, you can likely change, but you'll need to carefully review your listing agreement to fully understand the options involved there. Best of luck, and remember...try to keep the emotions at bay and get your house sold!!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 8, 2013
Jim,

Thanks for the great advice. I recently paid to have the house fully inspected top to bottom. House passed with flying colors.

I mention the inspection because that cost us several hundred dollars. The appraisal cost money. And before reading your post, I was literally going to call to have another appraisal scheduled and performed after Thanksgiving. All these things at our cost – but independently done. We just feel more comfortable learning the truth – good or bad – from independent sources at this point.

I’ve never heard of a BPO. I will “Google” it and find out more about it and see if I can find someone independent and disinterested who can look at the house with a 3rd pair of eyes.
Flag Sun Nov 10, 2013
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Instead of lowering the price, try increasing the Buyer's Agent Commission in the MLS and I believe you'll see a big change.

When realtors see that extra money being offered on the MLS search, you can bet your home will be included on their list of properties they'll show their buyers.

==
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 8, 2013
Steve, we definitely will keep that in the forefront of our minds. Is that something that we can state in the MLS ourselves? Our agent may not want to do state that in the MLS for us.
Flag Sun Nov 10, 2013
I agree with Ann. Ask for physical copies of each offer and contact an attorney. Speaking with broker might also be a good idea too.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 7, 2013
Danielle,
Thank you for such a quick response. All of you have been great resonding so quickly, and so late in the evening too. I will try to find out if there are any physical copies of the propect offers.
good night and thank you so much.
Flag Thu Nov 7, 2013
First, ask him to send you copies of these 4 offers you've rejected.

Second, go have a chat with a nice real estate lawyer. You need to have a frank and confidential discussion with someone regarding the legalities of the situation.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 7, 2013
Ann, If they were "verbal" prospect offers, would a realtor keep a record of some sort? Yes, I did go see a real estate lawyer. I was so frightened by the tone of their emails, their texts. The attorney advised that I make sure the MLS showed the price I wanted to receive, so that if a buyer was found, everyone would be happy: the realtor, the buyer, the buyer's realtor, and we would be happy. I'm just horrified the realtor set the price so high. He has 25+ years experience. Now, I realize were listed $60,000 more than what an appraiser would later tell us during those first 30 days. Again, thank you, Ann. I guess I have to wait out the next 90 days until this over and try to find another realtor that is frank and honest from the beginning.
Flag Thu Nov 7, 2013
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I'm not the biggest fan of realtors, but I'd like to hear the realtor's side of this story.

And yes, your realtor can sue you if you have defaulted on your contractual obligations, so make you do what you have agreed to do per your contract.

---
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 7, 2013
Steve, absolutely!! We want to sell the house.
We've kept the house immaculate. We even received a lovely email from a prospect saying how well the house presented. We've made the home available to any and every request for a showing. We tried 2 open houses. I just don't understand the sudden "turn". When I asked what else we could do, what else he could do, he told me he knew what he was doing. The communication style doesn't seem open and cooperative as with realtors I've dealt in the past. I've been frank, honest, and showed 100% effort in getting the home to sell. I wouldn't have closed so quickly on the townhome had I known that my home would take longer than 180 days to sell and it would sell at a much reduced price than led to believe in those first 60-70 Halcyon days.
I'm gutted, but I appreciate your quick response.
Flag Thu Nov 7, 2013
This was long ago - I realize -
But same rules apply today -

In any case where you feel your rights have been violated -
There are remedies in place to allow for clarity -

This certainly sounds like some rules have been broken!
Realtor's are licensed professionals and accountable to the licensing bureau.
Start there then - call upon the Realtor's Association.

They will not rule - simply assist in providing clarity as to the rules...
More than likely, this would be a dead issue after these contacts are made.

I would wager to say more Realtor'f fear being sued - than ever consider suing...

25 year "full time" South Florida resident
I know the area - I understand the market.

And I know the rules!

Realtor
Gary 561.306.7653
Web Reference: http://www.garyyoungman.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 4, 2015
REALTORS, why just why would one "present" an oral offer? Yes, I understand an oral counter, but in my mind, 1st offers should always be in writing so that all conditions are understood. An oral counter is OK with me , , , , e.g., we accept all conditions, but the price is $ XXXX. Every time I have some agent wanting to make a verbal, I tell them reduce it to writing so we understand what is going on.

Call me crazy/
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 16, 2013
It sounds like your agent did not perform ethically by making price reductions without your consent. What is in writing is what counts legally, and I'm a Realtor, not a lawyer so this is simply an opinion, but it seems that as long as he has not brought you a written offer with the terms as listed in the original listing agreement, or any written and agreed upon amendment to such, you are not obligated to pay a commission.

I would speak with the agent's broker and voice your concerns. The broker may assign a different agent to service the balance of your listing term. This agent does not seem to be on the up and up.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 16, 2013
Devasted in South Florida,
Everything you have shared with us perfectly aligns with the greatest fears all sellers face. When confronted with staring down those fears, trust in your team is essential. Trust is a quality that is the result of proving one's loyality. Very often those whom we should trust the most are the very ones who impede us from doing whatever we please. Those who are fortunate are able to see the calamity avoided rather than the smoldering ruins of bad decisons.
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There is always the other side of the story. The other side often reveals selective hearing and a nauive understanding of an environment they do not know. I write this to make clear my response is based on 1/2 of the available information. 1/2 of the available information is like having only two wheels on your car....it simply does not perform as intended.
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At the time the listing agreement was signed, your REALTOR (R) shared the recent sales data with you that inclued trends, the most recent sales, sold prices, discount margin and average days on market. What in your current experience is conflicting with the data shared with you at that time?
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Did you override your agents suggested list price (what the data showed) and did you add on a little for negotiaon room, a little more for those new kitchen fixtures, and stacked the professional fees on top? This usually results i a list price 30% above what the property will sell for. A knowledgeable buyer and their agent will forego the official 'offer' and test the water with a verbal, simply to gauge if the seller willl reassess their value position or if the seller will not negotiate at all. When priced 30% above reality, the latter is more commmon than you may think. Such a buyer will lurk waiting for signifcant price reductions in the 10% or more range.
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The crisis was created when you agreed to purchase a home while under the obligation of an existing mortgage. At that moment, the entire objective and goals of selling your existing home changed DRAMATICLY. Time become a crucial factor. Did a corresponding change occur in the selling strategy? I read nothing regarding a change you have made other than your agent attempt at a new startegy (perhaps fully funded by your agent) for which you now protest.
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You were in possion of information, for which you paid, that stated you were overpriced and you did nothing.
You made decisons that dramaticly altered the sale goal, and you made no changes.
You have created a crisis and now want to blame your agent.
Come to think of it, this is ALWAYS the way the story is told, it's the agents fault.
Nothing new.
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To answer you question, YOU are the only one who can sell your home. The owner is ALWAYS the seller. Real estate professinals do not buy or sell homes. they assist others is doing so.
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If the offered price is not the LISTED price, you are under no obligation to sell and the agent can not pursue compensation unless there is some sneaky thing in that listing agreement. I doubt such senarkery exists.
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You can choose to:
1. Make changes to your selling strategy with your current agent
2. Ask for an unconditional release from your current agreement and pay the penalty if any.
3. Wait until the current aggrement expires and hire a new agent. NOTE: Hiring a new agent is critical and can negate former agents claim to future compensation.
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What you really, really, really should do is print this Q and A.
Then ask for a meet up with your current REALTOR(r) and have a real heart-to-heart. Your FEARS are blinding your vision. Your REALTOR is not your adversary. However, you both need to understand what the current goals and requirement are and create the pathway to success. Second guessing your Realtor, soliciting the opinions of strangers on the internet, are not the best ways to accomplish what you need to accomplish.

Best of sucess
Annette Lawrence, Broker/Associate
Remax Realtec Group
Palm Harbor, Fl
727.420.4041
Move to the Front of the Line (FirstLookHomes.us)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 8, 2013
Annette,

Last part of my response (had to split it into 3 sections):

In your closing sections you had wonderful suggestions:
“(1) Selling strategy changes…”
We did. We tried open houses, we tried lowering the price. Now we know we are in a “longer to sell” location. Wish we knew that earlier.
“(2) Ask for unconditional release from your current agreement and pay the penalty if any. “
We will look into that too.

Most important:
“ (3). Wait for expiration and hire a new agent…”

#3 was a dim reality (gun shy, I guess) UNTIL I saw all the amazing, fair, realistic, and ethical responses to my concern about my current realtor. I am better educated from reading all the blogs and answers on this site. I am also more confident that the next realtor will be that fair and ethical person that will give us realistic timelines and strategies from the beginning and guide us through the process.
Finally: Thank you. You gave a detailed response, and I appreciate that.
Flag Sun Nov 10, 2013
Annette,
Had to continue in this separate response:
I completely agree with you that we made “bad” decisions, but we were guided wholly by our listing agent and his assurances – until we bought the townhouse. At that point he became more truthful and honest - and we saw who we were really dealing with in this situation.

Thankfully, our current home has no mortgage. We plan on renting out the townhouse until we decide what’s true about our area. We are not “distressed” sellers or in a crisis – but appreciate your input and comment about that possibility.

Our stress is due to our inability to trust the person whom we thought we could trust. We have dealt with the 3 other realtors in the past (selling and buying) and have never ever had this type of experience. That’s the disheartening part of all this. The good news is that after reading many of the responses, we see that there still are ethical realtors out there.
Flag Sun Nov 10, 2013
Annette,
Yes, there are always two sides, of course. But there is no doubt or regarding the following:
(1). The listing agent never showed us sales data, trends, etc. Only his suggested 3 prices. In fact, his exclusive listing was PREPRINTED and had HIS suggested listing price for our house - before he even entered our home. It turned out to be $99,000 above our one and only written offer.
(2). We always went with the listing prices and MLS changes suggested by the listing agent until this month when we noticed the changes done without our consent.
(3). The listing agent continuously told us not to worry – our house would sell and sell for a good price – as he showed us townhouses to purchase in preparation for our upcoming “sale”.
(4). There was never any mention about expired listings being common and sales taking forever in this area – until 36 hours after we closed on the townhouse.
The 4 issues above now make us distrust all his suggestions.
Flag Sun Nov 10, 2013
Think for just a minute. Think.

If Realtor had a independent appraisal done, and IT was lower than "realtors 3 presented price points"
Just how much do you think your house is worth???? Guess what, its very possibly worth what the appraiser said it was worth, less, it appears, than what you were offered in 4 contracts. NOT likely you are going to sell for more than appraisal. You can wish any dream you want, but you will sell at best, for the appraised value.

Example, you have a $100 dollar bill in your hand. You request to get 7 $20 bills for it ($140). An Appraiser tells you it's worth 5 $ 20 bills. You are offered 5 $20 and one $10 and you turn it down ($110 dollars for $100). Just why would one expect 5 $20's and one $10 for $100????
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 7, 2013
John, Thank you for your response. I paid for the independent appraisal, not the realtor. I was concerned that after 6 weeks, there were no offers, there was no traffic. When I received the report and shared it with the realtor, the realtor was the person who tried to reassure me that house was worth more and could be sold for at least the lowest of his 3 suggested price ranges.
It was only after we bought the townhouse that the realtor now indicates that we must sell - and sell for thousands below the appraisal. I don't want to do that but I feel pressured by everyone in his office, his associates, etc.
thank you again for your explanations.
Flag Thu Nov 7, 2013
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