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Bob, Home Seller in Cambridge, MD

A buyer's agent, who was and still is unknown to me, removed the key to my home from the lockbox and gave it

Asked by Bob, Cambridge, MD Thu Mar 6, 2008

to the buyer for her use later in the day. The buyer and her agent were having scheduling conflicts, so this was the agent's bright idea to get past the problem. The reason why I know this happened is because I walked in on the buyer and a friend while they were *rearranging* my belongings. My listing agent says it's okay because the buyer is well known to the buyer's agent and in a buyer's market, sellers need to be flexible. I say someone needs to go to jail. Any thoughts? The buyer's agent's actions were unethical, were they illegal?

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Bob, if I was your listing agent I would have been absolutely horrified about this situation! Did your agent know this was going to take place? If so I believe your agent should have informed you and asked your permission for this to happen. If your agent did not know that was going to happen...Yikes! I am not 100% sure, but I would believe this to be an ethics violation on the buyers agent for sure and your agent as well if the listing agent had knowledge of this taking place and did not let you know ahead of time. I don't think you should have to give up your right to privacy because an agent could not work her schedule out with a buyer. The buyer's agent should have found someone to cover for her in this instance in my opinion. I don't think filing complaints would be out of line in this situation.

I hope this information helps! Best Wishes to you!
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1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 6, 2008
This is wrong on so many levels, I am appalled. I cannot believe your listing agent even made an excuse for the buyer's agent.

"My listing agent says it's okay because the buyer is well known to the buyer's agent"

Great. Actually, that sounds like the perfect scam for a con man. Become "well known" to an agent. Arrange it so you just have to see a house when it is inconvenient for the buyer's agent and convince them to give you the key. That would make a good Lifetime movie. Anyway, I'm not saying it was anyone's intent to rob you but this action was 100% unethical and I would not tolerate it, as a Realtor or as a client.
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3 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 7, 2008

I think I speak for all of the contributers to this discussion that we are all delighted for you that this violation of Realtor protocol has resulted in a contract for the purchase of your property. However, please advise your Realtor to withhold any complaint against the offending buyer broker until after the closing. Once the sale of your property closes, advise your broker that you expect her/him to file a complaint or, if s/he refuses, that you expect her/him to provide you with the information to do so yourself. Your privacy and "castle" have still been violated. Fortunately, the result, at this time, appears to be favorable to your position. But things still could turn adverse to your position, so hold on for now. Keep us advised on the progress of the transaction so we can continue to provide you with our thinking on the situation.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 8, 2008
The buyer should never be unaccompanied in your home. Period.

If your agent knew about this, and agreed to it (without your permission), you need to have a long talk with him, and set him straight. Also, what if you'd had another showing during the day, between the time the buyer's agent picked up the key, and the buyer brought it back.. the lock box would have been empty.

If the buyer's agent was having a scheduling conflict, he could have arranged for your listing agent to meet and show the property to the buying agent... or he could have arranged for someone from his office to accompany... he should never have allowed the buyer unaccompanied access to your home.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 7, 2008
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in Evanston, IL

Deborah's comments have some merit, but your property has been trespassed upon. I think you have a valid reason to call the police. I don't recommend that but someone has violated your trust and your privacy and that person is the broker who gave the key to your property to a "potential buyer". I don't care how much of a "buyer's market" we are in, that is not acceptable behavior. Talk with your Realtor and ask about the process of filing an ethics complaint against that "buyer's agent".
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 6, 2008
Very wrong, I would fire the agent and tell his broker why. A buyer should never be allowed access to a home unaccompanied.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 7, 2008
Totally unethical and should be reported the Broker of that buyer's agent and to the Board. Your Realtor can also accompany any Realtor for future showings if that would make you feel better.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 7, 2008
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 6, 2008
Mr.P, Other/Just Looking in Arizona
The person authorized to access your home is a REALTOR, not their buyer. You may have an inexperienced Realtor, or one exercising poor judgement. I concurr with the idea of asking your Realtor to lodge a complaint with the Broker of the buyer's agent.

If you are really serious go to and down load the Code Of Ethics for Realtors. I did a quick pass and did not observe any violations, however it might be helpful. Trespass may be the legal explanation, and if warranted (re-arranging your belongings) filing a greivance with the local association of Realtors would be in order.

The greivance would be filed with the association, then the greivance committee would determine if the complaint was legitimate (not if the buyer's agent was guilty, simply that if the facts put forth were true, then it is possible for their to be liability or wrong doing). The greivance committee passes the finding onto the Professional Standards committee, who will make a determination as to the appropriatet course of action.

Contact to obtain more information. it may be a buyer's market, but our clients deserve our protection.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 6, 2008
Keith Sorem, Real Estate Pro in Glendale, CA
Thank you all for your comments. A quick update: that buyer did put in a contract on the house. The agents feel vindicated, but I still don't feel the end justify the means. I accepted the contract, perhaps foolishly so, and now need to keep a wary eye on every detail on this process since I no longer have faith in my agent. Wish me luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 8, 2008
In most cases, each local Board of Realtors has established guidelines for accessing property. You didn't mention if you were aware that they were going to access your property (I am assuming they did not inform you). I think your agent's answer to you was wrong. You are still the owner and it is your home. If your agent was aware that the buyer wanted access they should have contacted you to to confirm that it was OK to enter and if they did not they may have violated one of their board rules. It almost sounds as if your agent may have known about this and said what they did to cover their error in judgement. I agree with Deborah that there probably was nothing illegal about their entry, but it probably did violate a rule established by the loacal board and you should probably contact your agent's broker about the situation and maybe contact the local board of realtors that services your area.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 6, 2008
This is not a legal opinion. The viewpoint of an attorney or law enforcement official may differ.

In my opinon, there was no criminal intent in the action, so I don't see that this is an action that would have any criminal charges associated. The buyer was not entering your home for any illegal purpose.

The buyer agent exercised extremely poor which should be reported. There isn't any excuse for this lapse of judgement. It seems like the lisitng agent was attempting to minimize the impact of the decison.

I recommend that you phone the broker of the buyer agent and discuss this situation. While I don't see it as criminal, neither should it be brushed under the rug. If you are not satisfied w/ the results of your discussion w/ the broker, you may also report this action to the local association, and/or state regulatory body.

Sellers should have confidence that the lockboxes on their homes are used only as authorized.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 6, 2008
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Brick, NJ
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