Ethics and law do not always run parallel. There are times when a consumer, whether it be in a real estate transaction or other business transaction, is held to the legal terms of an agreement, when that same consumer may have been morally and ethically wronged. Likewise, there are times when a legal loophole allows things that shouldnâ€™t be.
I have seen several buyer broker agreements enforced, and I have seen those that were not enforced.
I do not agree w/ Laurie that all consumers will be honorable. Some will and some will not. When I was an agent, I had more than one unsolicited offers to help a consumer â€œoff the booksâ€ with their contract so there would be no broker split, and the consumer could simply pay me directly. I spoke with another agent, who I still hold out as one of the most admirable Realtors in our biz, and she told me this had happened to her, too. I have had contractors, innocently, suggest that they will pay me a commission if I refer them to work. When I explained that I am not interested, nor can I do that legally, even if I were interestedâ€¦.I have had contractors suggest that â€œno one would know.â€
As a broker, I have had a buyer call me and tell me that one of my agentâ€™s sellers was trying to contact them directly to work out a deal directly that would avoid the Realtor commission. It was the integrity of a buyer who brought to light that our firmâ€™s seller was doing this. The buyer was not interested in the property, and was surprised that this seller tracked them down via their name and published phone number to solicit them in this manner. I called the seller, as the broker for the company, and asked if his agent and our company were servicing his listing properly, and he said yes. When I told him, with the buyerâ€™s permission, of the news I had heardâ€¦.he laughed, and said, â€œCanâ€™t blame me for trying to save a buck.â€œ He thought it was funny. An prime example of both good and bad behavior. While I would like to look at the world with rose colored glasses and assume that all people willingly do the right thing, the fact isâ€¦.many will, and some will not.
There are also numerous situations in every walk of business and life where any one of us might initially have one position or opinion, but after thinking things through, or hearing other input, may alter our opinion or position. One might not have intent to wrong anyone, but simply forget to consider all the facts. Upon such evaluation, they may stand on their original position or see things in another light.
I agree w/ Laurie that I might well simply release the agreement. (We have easy exit releases for both listing and buyer broker agreements and we explain that to clients in the beginning.) Nordtroms has a different return policy than Target or Macys. Each broker and agent (within the guidelines of their brokerage) makes their own release policies.
There is no insinuation about Kimberly. I do not know enough details. I stand on my original advice.
If you believe you should not be held liable for buyer brokerage fees, and you do not want this buyer broker to represent you, review your agreement, have a candid discussion and seek a release. If both parties agree to a release, and you are confident that you understand the terms, you might still choose to have an attorney review the documents to make sure. Even if you get a voluntary release, you will need to clearly understand if that applies from the date of signing forwardâ€¦.or it will release you from this FSBO which was discovered while the agreement was in place. That clarification is necessary, and for that reason, the posters who have advised you to consult an attorney have provided worthwhile advice.
If the broker will not agree to a voluntary release, you can seek legal advice on your options.
Before you make a decision, review the facts of what services were provided, what was not, what you agreed to and if the buyer broker fulfilled, in your mind the terms of the agreement. Asking you to review the facts to determine what is right, ethical, and fair is not an anti-consumer statement. And, finally, do give thought to the value of representation through the transaction before deciding to try to go it alone.