What is the fudiciary responsibility of a real estate list agent? Can she sue us for the commissions after we listed with another Realtor?

Asked by Freedo28, Lansdale, PA Sun Oct 25, 2009

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Mack McCoy’s answer
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Wed Nov 18, 2009
Let's put aside her "fiduciary" responsibilities to you.

You know that it is her Brokerage, and not "her," that you had the listing contract with, right?

OK. If you sign a listing agreement with another brokerage WHILE you are under contract with another brokerage, and you accept an offer while the FIRST agreement is still in force, then, she's probably quite entitled to a commission, too - and yes, she can sue you for it.

Whatever her fiduciary responsibilities to you, they do not extend to relieving you of the obligation to fulfill your end of the contract.
0 votes
Russ Angely, , Lansdale, PA
Wed Nov 18, 2009
Hello, Freedo28,

The answer to your question is based on the status of the Listing Contract you had with your first Agent/Broker.

If you had an Exclusive Right to Sell Listing Agreement with you first agent and that agreement had not expired it is very possible that you will be held to the letter of the law for that contract. Therefore, you may be obligated to pay commission to your first agent/broker.

If your first Listing Contract expired then you have every right to hire a new Agent/Broker Agency to sell and List you property and you are not responsible to pay commissions to the first agent/broker.

If you and your first agent changed the Listing Agreement Status To "Withdrawn" and there was no documentation stating that you were released from your legal obligations of the Listing Agreement the first agent/Broker still owns your Listing Contract until the Listing Expiration date. Therefore, you could be responsible for commissions if the property is listed & sold with another agent/broker before the expiration date of the first Listing contract.

If your property expired and you hired another agent/broker who sold your property to a buyer who had seen/previewed your property while it was under by your fisrt agent/broker and there was not the required time lapse between the first and second agent/brokers you could be responsible for commission payment to the first agent. However, these type situations are generally resolved between the Brokers with no obligation to the seller.

If you Listing Contract had Easy Out statements that released you from contract obligations due to specific circumstances -- and you provided your first agent in writing that you were terminating the agreement based on an easy out reason -- You may well not have to pay your first agent commission.

As you can see it is necessary to have very clear understanding in dealing with real estate contracts/agreements. In most cases, real estate contracts are straight forward, easily understood and are designed to protect all sides in a real estate transaction. It is always a good idea to review those items of a contract that can lead to problems. It only takes a few more seconds and can save a lot of headaches in the long haul.

Straight Talk – Thoroughness – Attention To Detail – Informed Decisions – Lead to Satisfactory real estate transactions and Happy Experiences.
0 votes
Jim Wieszczyk, , 19034
Sun Oct 25, 2009
A listing agent must always act with responsibility and professionalism in carrying out the real estate duties established between the client and agent. That said, the relationship is two-sided: the agent towards the client/homeowner, and the client towards the agent. If the client has signed a valid listing agreement designating the agent as their sole representative for a stated period of time to to assist them in selling their home, the seller has a contract with that agent that carries specific performance requirements for both. Neither side can end or "break" that contract without the consent of the other. So the client/owner then uses another agent to sell the home, that client is likely responsible to the 1st agent for the commission as agreed to in the original listing contract.
If, however, the original contract has expired, the seller is free to enlist the aide of another agent for the task. In this case, if the buyer "found" by the 2nd agent was originally introduced to the property during the time the 1st contract was in effect, the seller may still be liable for a commision to the 1st agent. Typically there is a time limitation in a listing agreement to cover such a situation.
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Emily Landis…, Agent, Lansdale, PA
Sun Oct 25, 2009
If you still are in a contract with the original listing agent/brokerage and have an exclusive right to sell contract, then you very well could owe that brokerage a commission. If the contract has expired, then that's a different ball game. Also, were there any provisions for early termination? Some agents have easy exit plans that they include in their contracts which allow for a termination.The best advice I can give is to consult an attorney and do not enter into another contract until you have an answer. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have.

Emily Landis Torres
RE/MAX Central
1110 N. Broad Street
Lansdale, PA 19446
215-362-3100 ext 1793
direct: 267-640-2327
email: emily@emilyshomeinfo.com
0 votes
J R, , New York, NY
Sun Oct 25, 2009
Can you expand your question? I don't see anything involving fiduciary responsibility in what you've written.
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Cheryl Olsen, , Malvern, PA
Sun Oct 25, 2009
The answer depends on whether or not you have a contract with that agent, and if so, what type of contract it is as well as its terms. If you have not signed a contractural agreement to list your property with her, then you have no responsibility to her.

If, hower, you signed an exclusive right to list contract with the agent, check the terms of the contract. How long does the contract run (all contracts in Pennsylvania require a start and ending date), how much notice are you required to provide if you want to terminate the contract, and in fact, is termination is allowed.

If you have signed something with the first agent, other than the Consumer Notice, I would urge you to contact an attorney to review the original listing contract and certainly make the second agent aware that there may be a conflict.

Good luck!
0 votes
Renee Porsia, Agent, Newtown, PA
Sun Oct 25, 2009
Hello Freedo28,

If you actually hired a Realtor and signed the listing contract and then listed with another Realtor before the listing contract ended with the first Realtor, yes, you will have some legal responsibility to the original Broker.

I don't know all of the facts but you should consult with an attorney because if you have two Realtors you could have some legal responsibility to both Brokers.

Can you provide more facts?

Renee Porsia
Associate Broker
(215) 669-0589 Direct
(215) 358-1100 Office ask for Renee
0 votes
Sean Dawes, , Philadelphia, PA
Sun Oct 25, 2009
Did you have a listing contract with her and then relist it with another agent as well?

Sean Dawes
0 votes
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