Question Details

Nef, Home Seller in California

Is this legal?

Asked by Nef, California Sat Feb 9, 2008

We listed our home with a realtor according to his comps. He is now telling us unless we lower the price of our home he will drop our listing as it is over priced for the market. We now have lowered it the $100,000 he wants and we are still waiting for the papers to sign for the price change. We are legally bound by a contract to him for a year, why is it he can drop us any time he wants? I am really amazed by this!

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Answers

22
Hi Nefertiti ,

On Trulia, I am not one to quickly suggest that a client try to break a contract or drop an agent. But, if an agent clearly is not working in your best interests, and is suggesting that you part ways, I would suggest that you give that serious consideration.

From a period of Nov through February, it is reasonable to hear from an agent more than 4 times.

I encourage sellers and buyers to enter longer listing contracts, and to get all commitments in writing, and to spell out rights of termination to the contract if the agent fails to deliver. That longer time period allows for more commitment and energy investment on the part of the agent. You just need to have the ability to terminate for failed performance clearly defined.

As a Broker who does budgets for advertising and marketing for our listings, I can tell you that longer listing periods bring benefits to you as a seller.

I would consider it a highly reasonable request for you to ask your agent/broker to come and meet you for an appointment at a mutually convenient time. Ask him to bring comps, updated CMA, and a recap of the planned marketing for your property. His response to your request will give you an indication of his commitment to the marketing of your property.

If that commitment is not there, then it is in your best interests to pursue a release from the listing and find a different representative. I suggest having a candid discussion w/ your current agent before making any decisions. It doesn't seem that you have had that much contact w/ your agent, and it is possible that a discussion may clear the air and lead to a productive relationship. Don't hesitate to set forth expectations of your own.

Best of luck
Deborah
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 10, 2008
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Red Bank, NJ
MVP'08
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Thanks for clarification, Nefertiti. Now I feel better about my recommendation.

From what you said, I agree with Elvis, sounds like the agent does not want to bother with the property anymore (BTW, $100,000 may or may not be too much, all depends on the property and the original pricing). Good chance to make a change.

Again, make sure when you interview the new agent, lay everything out in front and get somebody who is willing to the work for you on this very unique property. .

Best luck on this. Spring is a good time to get started, I am seeing mroe buyers out, but we might not be in the same market place.

Sylvia
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 10, 2008
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Novato, CA
MVP'08
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I, too, am hesitant to recommend dropping an agent, when i clearly don't know all the details. But in this case it sounds as though your agent handed you the opportunity to cancel the contract by not agreeing to lower the price.

I understand that you have to adjust to a changing market, but $100,000 price change sounds pretty dramatic, and I presume that he's presented you with his comps and reasons to adjust so drastically. Still, with his incommunicative style, and lack of enthusiasm and courtesy, I have to feel that there is an agent out there who would serve your needs better and more pleasantly, and it sounds as though you current agent might even be relieved.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 10, 2008
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in 60201
MVP'08
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Nelertiti:

I really don't understand what you are thinking? Is he the only realtor in town and you have to use him? You sounded desperate and have to use him somehow. Why?

Middle of November, then holiday season, and now, finally, spring, a great time to sell.
My question for you is why are you still so attached to this Realtor, who does not seem to be interested (or even mad) in representing you because you do not want to reduce your price; you only talk to him 4 times, he wanted a one year listing and accepted your high price listing, and now he wants you to reduce the price by $100,000, and then when you did not want to, he got angry, wanted to cancel the listing' then you agreed, but he wont' give you the paper to reduce the price?

And you still want to use him? Why?

Normally it will not be too easy to cancel a listing agreement (if they don't want to), but you are getting a great excuse now.

Middle of November, then holidays and raining January, now almost spring, just a wonderful time to sell. .

Sounds like a great time to go and interview a few reputable Realtors who will actually be happy to be working for you and represent you for the sale of your property.

Service is very important in this business. Why don't you want one who will serve you? .

Sylvia
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2008
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Novato, CA
MVP'08
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You shouldn't be so concerned with making your Realtor happy, he should be concerned with making you happy.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2008
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in 60201
MVP'08
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Hi Nefertiti,

The best advice will come from Realtors in your State/Marketing Area, but I'd like to give you some food for thought. First, did the Agent provide you with comps that support his recommended price reduction? I am not surprised that your listing price may need to be lowered, as home values have taken a hit in many areas of the country. Ask to see the latest comps so you understand the current values in your marketing area. That being said, I am concerned about the threat to "drop your listing." There is a better way to communicate. It is true, if a listing is overpriced in today's market, an Agent is throwing their money out of the window by continuing to advertise it. In addition, it is very stressful for a Seller to have a home linger on the market for a long period of time due to it being overpriced. Communication needs to improve in this situation. You need to address your concerns with your Agent - is his Broker wiling to release you from the contract at your request? Many Brokers do not want to hold an unhappy Seller to a contract - just not good business and certainly won't create referral business. Not having the paperwork within 2 business days (in person, email, fax, electronic signature) without a really good reason, is just sloppy. This is a tough market, you and your Agent need to have trust and good communication in order to work together in a productive manner. An unhappy relationship with your Agent is just going to add to your frustrations. Talk with your Agent and give him a chance to improve your business relationship and regain your trust. If he is not interested, talk to his Broker. Most Brokers will attempt to resolve the situation to your satisfaction. You may need to find another Agent and start fresh.

Best of luck to you.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2008
Thank you Ruthless and Deborah for answering my post. I am going to call him and try and talk this out and if it goes nowhere then I think we will just have to look for a new agent.
I want to thank all of you who responded to my posts I really appreciate it and it was great to have your input into this mess.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 10, 2008
Nefertiti:
I wish I could give Elvis a dozen thumbs up for "You shouldn't be so concerned with making your Realtor happy, he should be concerned with making you happy."

As I was reading through, I kept thinking the agents were missing your comment which you just repeated about commercial/residential. This makes a difference when it comes to the skill and target marketing of your property as well as a huge price difference. I think you need to interview a few possibly new agents. One that specializes in residential, one that specializes in commercial and another that frequently handles both.

Keep in mind that Realtor's are hesitant to talk with sellers currently listed with another agent. But their code of ethics says that this is perfectly fine if YOU contact them, then they can freely explore options with you.

I appreciate your commitment to honoring your contract but feel that your agent already emotionally nullified the contract so now you should probably legally cancel it.
Good luck,
Ruth
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 10, 2008
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558
MVP'08
Elvis I think you are probably right. He deals in commercial property and maybe when the interest in our property became only as a rental property and not the commercial property it was listed as, plus with the price being lowered so much he just lost interest in the whole thing.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 10, 2008
Sylvia,
I met by meeting him half way that we have done everything he has asked of us and now the ball is in his court, so to speak. The thing that baffles me is he had no problem listing the property at the price agreed to and when the interest was not from the commercial market but from people who were interested in it as rental property, he said the price needed to be reduced and we agreed to do that and now he can't even get the papers to us to sign for the lower price?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 10, 2008
You are most welcome, Nefertiti! I know my answer below would not be popular with agents (promptly received a TD), but I just think that sometimes agent uses the contract period to hold onto a client and your agent is nice enough to allow you to cancel the contract.

Not knowing all the details, but from what you described below, I am fine with his asking you to drop the price if the current comp is different from when you just listed, and also O.K. with property not sellling during the holiday season just because the market is very slow, but I do question why he would not reply to your agreement on dropping the price and start aggressively market your property after the $100,000 drop. Unless there is special reason behind that, it leads me to think the agent is not interested in representing you in this case anyway and you want an agent who is interested in you and your property. .

Sounds like you might be getting a new Realtor; but either way, you should sit down with the realtor (whether current or new) and really talk about how he/she is going to market your property and how you can communite with each other. Set the expectation and make sure they deliver that. They are working for you.

I have another question - what does meet you halfway mean? I thought you are doing everything he asked you to do? Sometimes everything is in the details - that could be the hold up.

Sylvia
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 10, 2008
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Novato, CA
MVP'08
Contact
Sylvia,
The main reason we are trying to work things out with him is because we do have a 1 year contract and we are trying to make this situation the best we can within our contract. We just believe when you enter into a contract you are to honor it. Having said that we also feel we now have done everything we possibly can and if he doesn't want to meet us half way there is nothing more we can do.
Thank you for replying to my post.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 10, 2008
Thank you Elvis and Tammy for your replies. I will take your suggestion Tammy and give it a try, I would think he would be getting the papers to us soon. I sure thought since we are are reducing the price as he suggested that he would cooperate a little more. If he doesn't want to keep our listing I wish he would just say so. We have done what he wants, I don't know what more we can do. I feel reducing the price as much as we did was showing we are trying to follow his advice. I am stunned by this whole experience.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2008
Tammy, TYVM for your response. He is the head broker and I am just at a point I don't know what to do, I really am not unhappy with him I just don't understand his complete turn around I guess. We are willing to drop the price $100,000.00 and he still can't seem to get the papers to us to sign. It is very difficult to talk to him as he really isn't very nice any more. I am trying to give him the benefit of the doubt because he could have things going on in his life that are difficult right now. I want to try to work with him but he seems to have lost interest no matter what we do. I feel dropping the price as he suggested is showing good will on our part, I don't know what else to do to make him happy.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2008
Thank you all so much for your response. We really have only spoken to him about 4 times since we listed the property. I know that having to list a property is expensive but other than posting it on the MLS and putting a sign in the yard and a box out front with fliers i don't think it has cost him that much. Our property is commercial/ residential and he comped it on the commercial aspect. It is were we all felt the value was but he said the only calls he has received on the property is people wanting to purchase it as rental property( it is a duplex).
I have not been unhappy with him, I know it takes time to sell in this market. It is just strange though how friendly he was before we signed with him and how short he is with us now, but then in this market it must not be easy for him either. We lowered the price as I stated but still no papers from him to change the price. He did ask us if we had a printer so we could print the document ourselves and return it to him but our printer is broken.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2008
Nefertiti,

If the REALTOR is an agent, I would suggest calling the his/her broker and discussing the issue.

Look for a statement in the listing agreement that reads like:
"This agreement will be terminated without recourse upon written notice by either party."

Getting down to what is legal is best determined by reading the contract and ultimately speaking with a real estate attorney.

The other point of course is that it doesn't appear he wants to work for you and therefore is probably not the best person for the job. I would interview at least 2 agents and explain the situation and find one that wants to get the job done!

Good luck,
CJ
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2008
A YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why in the owrld would you let a Realtor get you tied up for a year. I don't even ask for more than 6 mo. for my clients. I feel that if they are happy with me after 6 mo. they will relist. This sounds like one of those listing agents that gives you high price getting your hopes up and you sign with him and then he immediately starts hammering for price reductions. Those agents are scumbags.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2008
LEGAL is the wrong word. Yes it is legal. Can attempt to collect from you if you fire him. Sure, if it is in the contract. Will he be successful? Who has the better attorney?

My advice would be to MAKE him fire you. Then move on to the best person you can find. I would interview several and find the one who has a team that works in your price range the most.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 13, 2008
Thanks for clarilfying. If I had a client who has any concerns,for any reason, I would want them to let me know so I could have a chance to address the issues. Please still ask for a meeting face to face. Ask him about a going forward marketing strategy and please ask a lot of questions.

If the issue is only getting the papers to sign in order to reduce the price, call him again and give a specific time, place, and date about when you would like to sign and hold his feet to the fire.

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2008
Ask your agent to meet in his office along with the principal broker. Discuss your concerns and ask to develop a strategy moving forward.

Read the contract carefully to determine who can cancel it and who can't. It MAY be that the agency cannot drop you either. Consult with your attorney if you feel you need to take this action.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2008
Cheryl, We put the property on the market the middle of Nov.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2008
How long has your home been on the market? Perhaps there has been a dramatic decrease in the market where you live. A contract can be canceled at any time in writing, however unless you stated that in the original listing agreement you are bound to that brokerage company. If I were you I would ask to speak to his broker and get some of your questions answered. Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2008
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