When buying a home, is it common practice for the seller's agent to withhold a necessary document until the buyer pays a city assessment?

Asked by Kathleen Webster, Minnesota Fri Apr 13, 2012

My daughter and her husband are closing on their first home soon and last week found out there is a city assessment on it. The seller's are refusing to pay it and say if my daughter tries to force them to, they will sell all the appliances in the house in order to pay the assessment. These appliances are listed in the purchase agreement as being included with the home. My daughter's financing agency requires all appliances included be listed on a separate signed personal property addendum and that is the document that the seller's agent refuses to hand over unless my daughter agrees to pay the assessment. Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't withholding that document in order to get money from my daughter amount to extortion?? The seller's agent admitted on the phone with my daughter's agent that what he's doing is highly unethical but that he will do whatever he has to to get his clients what they want. Does my daughter have any recourse other than walking away at this point??

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Susan Hoffla…, Agent, Shoreview, MN
Sat Apr 14, 2012
Hi, Kathleen!
Holy Cow!!! This is really out of the ordinary. And, I feel just TERRIBLE for your daughter. This kind of thing will color this experience, that should be a joyful one, instead as very stressful.

That said, there are a couple of issues that need to be mentioned. On PAGE 1 of the purchase agreement are a series of boxes that address special assessments. Those boxes are checked either SELLER SHALL PAY or BUYER SHALL PAY. If the assessment is already in progress, it depends on which box was checked on the purchase agreement. If the sellers just received notice about the assessment, then the default language says that the sellers have to notify the buyers and that everyone agrees to negotiate how that's going to be taken care of. So, if it's this 2nd scenario, then it's not automatically the sellers' responsibility.

Now, this doesn't make what the seller is doing right! I agree with all of the other agents on this forum, it's time for your daughter's agent to get the broker involved. Without knowing all of the circumstances, it's hard for us to say for sure how it should be resolved. But, this sounds like an issue that needs to be discussed between the 2 brokers to determine what's fair.

I hope this gets resolved soon so your daughter can start to feel good about this again. Believe me, this is the kind of thing people talk about WAAAAAAY more than they talk about the good experiences they've had!!

Good luck~
Web Reference:  http://www.homestosellmn.com
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Michael Emery, , Minneapolis, MN
Fri Apr 13, 2012
If the facts are as you have stated, and both buyer and seller have signed the personal property agreement which states the appliances are being sold to the buyer for a nominal sum, then it would appear that the listing agent is encouraging their client to breach their contract with you. This doesn't fall under the heading of 'protecting' your client.

If there is a pended assessment against the property it is up to the sellers to pay the assessment. And even if your daughter backs out of the agreement, the sellers will STILL have to pay it unless they have the next buyer accept the assessment. And guess what? The next seller will reduce their offer by the assessed amount.

If this agent belongs to one of the larger brokers (Edina, Burnet, Remax etc), their license is being held by and they are supervised by a broker. All your daughter needs to do is find out the home office of the agent, and request to speak with the managing broker of that office. If the facts are as you have stated, this should all your daughter would need to do to get this transaction back onto course.

Caveat: If your daughters agent failed to put the appliances into the purchase agreement or if the personal property agreement has not been signed by all parties, then your daughter won't be getting the appliances. I had a listing where the buyers agent omitted the personal property agreement from the purchase agreement and they failed to mention personal property on the purchase agreement. The seller at that point was under no obligation to give them the appliances or sell them for a nominal sum.
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Elizabeth Fu…, Agent, Wayzata, MN
Fri Apr 13, 2012
Agents vary; all we can say is what is ethical to each of us personally, As a buyers' agent, I would seek the assistance of my broker who would then take this up with the seller's agent and broker; this situation could be one your broker would report to the Board of Realtors and possibly the Department of Commerce depending on the actual facts. I would not presume to advise anyone without having a complete review of all documents including the listing agreement, disclosures and purchase agreement. Your agent's broker would make the preliminary review. Put it in his or her hands. Liz, 612-986-4105
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Mike Sullivan, Agent, Gainesville, FL
Fri Apr 13, 2012
This is not a good business practice...you may want to bring the broker for your agent into the conversation, and have them discuss with the seller's broker. You might also want to consider filing an ethics complaint against the seller's agent. All that said, how bad does your daughter want the property, and at what cost......what's to say that this is all there is which stands in your way?
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Christopher…, Agent, Bloomington, MN
Fri Apr 13, 2012
Yea this is pretty bad your agent needs to take this to the broker and then our board and even commerce department if need be. It all comes down to what was agreed upon in the contract good luck!
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