Would you consider this ethical behavior for a real estate agent?

Asked by Paezle, Malvern, PA Mon Jun 4, 2012

A real estate agent tells her buyer to bid high on a property that has multiple bidders, claiming that the property won't appraise for that amount anyway. The sellers accept the bid of this buyer. The property does appraise but now the buyer doesn't want to pay the amount that he bid and seeks to get out of the contract. Was the real estate agent's advice to the buyer ethical?

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John Krapf’s answer
John Krapf, Agent, Fairless Hills, PA
Sat Jun 9, 2012
Real estate agents are not appraisers. The agent should have looked up some comps and let the buyer decide what to offer. I always let my buyers decide what to bid, that way I cannot be blamed.
0 votes
Tomas.sledge, Home Buyer, Yardley, PA
Wed Nov 18, 2015
Real estate agents are commonly not looking ethics. They are doing real estate for getting benefit for them also. Any how before selecting agents review his details and make sure you can trust him.
@ http://www.clazwork.com/
0 votes
ffforbes1, Home Buyer, Fountain Hills, AZ
Tue Sep 8, 2015
Is it ethical for a sellers real estate agent to contact the buyers lender and VA appraiser.
0 votes
, ,
Mon Jun 4, 2012
Hello Ron,

I believe the buyer stupid by trying to outsmart everybody. However they relied on the advice of a Professional and the comment about the appraisal was iresponsible. That encouraged the buyer into this reckless behavior. A prudent buyer will want to get as much leverage as possible. Its up to their Realtor to warn of the consequences, not encourage them with false statements.
As a Professional in your industry you have to be accountable for EVERYTHING that you say. It's up to the realtor and the Mortgage lender to manage their clients expectations by providing accurate information. The correct approach should have been to say that if the appraisal comes in you are stuck at that price.....but maybe you catch a break and the property appraises low.

As Paezle has pointed it, not managing expectations here here has created a huge problem.

0 votes
, ,
Mon Jun 4, 2012
Sounds like "Deal-Making 101." The Buyer wanted the home. The Agent was trying to help the Buyer get the home. The comment is misplaced because the Agent can't predict how the property will appraise, but it doesn't sound like the comment is unethical. It sounds like the Agent worked the deal to help the Buyer win the house.

As for putting in a complaint to the Local Board of Realtors about the Agent's conduct, I'd say this: prioritize what you as the Buyer are trying to accomplish. If your goal is to buy a home, and you are truly that upset with the accepted price, then get yourself out of this deal and move on. If you have suffered some material "harm" such as expenses incurred, you need to consider that, too.

Do you want to get into a messy dispute with the Realtor over a misplaced comment? Or do you want to buy a home?

But since the house did appraise, then the Buyer has purchased the home at market price. The other bidders were below market.

I'm curious to know just how much higher the bid is above what the Buyer "really" wanted to pay. With interest rates so low, the payment might literally be a couple of dollars more than the imagined "ideal" price in the Buyer's mind. In which case, if the Buyer is "in it to win it" and become a homeowner, this whole discussion is moot. The Buyer got the house; end of discussion. Deal Made. Deal-Making 101.

Trevor Curran
NMLS #40140
0 votes
Paezle, Home Owner, Malvern, PA
Mon Jun 4, 2012
Thank you all for your responses.

Here's how the rest of it played out:

Once the seller "won" the bid and the property appraised for the amount of the bid, the seller backed out of the deal after unsuccessfully trying to get the purchase price reduced by asking the seller for significant cosmetic changes to the home.

The buyer's agent told the seller agent that if the house wouldn't have appraised, then the buyers would have proceeded with buying the house at a lesser amount than what it had bid and that the buyers didn't feel that the house was worth what it had bid.

The sellers suffered damages by selling at a lesser amount to one of the other original bidders. In addition, they had to carry two homes because they had purchased a home after accepting the buyer's bid.
0 votes
Thanks for the clarification and the subsequent results!
Flag Mon Jun 4, 2012
Ron Thomas, Agent, Fresno, CA
Mon Jun 4, 2012
Let's not put all the blame on the Agent:
The Buyers put their shorts on one-leg-at-a-time too.
And they got the darn house for Market Value or less.

It just that not, they realize that they could have gotten the house for less, MAYBE!
and they want a fall guy!

They wanted the house,
They outbid the multiple offers,
I don't see a problem, just a lot of sour grapes!

If they hadn't gotten the house, would they blame the Agent for telling them to bid TOO LOW??!!
0 votes
, ,
Mon Jun 4, 2012
Hello Paezle,

Unethical? NO!
Stupid? YES!.

The Realtor has NO CLUE what we as loan officers are dealing with when it comes to appraisals. The only time the Realtor hears about an appraisal issue is when it comes in low or when repairs That being said the Realtor had no basis for such a comment. I can tell you that appraisals have become very inconsistent but the values are more consistent on purchases than refinances. Give an appraiser NO point of reference ( ie purchase price) and they are all over the map. I have challenged appraisals and had the value increase from $385k to $465k which shows to me the incoinsistency, but that does not guarantee that all appraisals will come in low.
It was a stupid comment and not representing their clients best interests. Had the Realtor said that the property MAY NOT appraise, then that would not have been so innacurate.

Alan Openshaw
Cornerstone Lending Inc
Southampton Pa 18966
215 953 0800
cell 267 992 7276
NMLS ID 143960
0 votes
Kim Rock, Agent, Langhorne, PA
Mon Jun 4, 2012
Unfortunately this is a case of very bad advice given to you. No one can predict what an appraisal will be, and even more so no one should be offering a certain amount on a property based on what they "guess" the appraisal will come in at.. I'm very sorry you or someone you know is in that position.
0 votes
Sharon Sapp, Agent, Reading, PA
Mon Jun 4, 2012
There should have been a long discussion on what could happen with a high bid. I agree that the agent was not acting in the agent's best interest and if you feel it was unethical, you could always report her to the local board. Their grievance committee will review the complaint to see if it violates any of the provisions of the code of ethics. A buyer should never agree to offer an amount on a property that they are not comfortable with - no matter what.

The buyer can still terminate the contract. If the escrow was already paid, they may lose that. If they cannot qualify for a mortgage at the higher amount AND the offer had a mortgage contingency, they may be able to cancel the contract and get back their escrow. It all depends on how the offer was structured, but I'm assuming that if the appraisal was done, the buyer qualified for the higher mortgage and would have already paid for any inspections, the escrow, some lender fees and the appraisal - these would typically be forfeited.
0 votes
Carol Cei, Agent, Maple Glen, PA
Mon Jun 4, 2012
Hello, Paezle,

I think the error was a judgement call....the real estate agent should NOT have indicated that the property wouldn't appraise. Even if the agent were a certified appraiser and rendered an opinion of value, there are no absolutes. Two appraisers can appraise the same property with somewhat different results.

Whenever there are multiple offers, it is always a good idea to come in with your highest and best offer. If the buyer did not want to purchase for this price, the buyer shouldn't have done that. It appears that the buyer may have only wanted the property at a low price and not at the true market value.

Hope this was helpful.

Carol Cei, ePRO, Realtor
ReMax Platinum Club
Five Star Professional
ReMax Actionb Realty
215.643.9661 Cell
215.358.1100 x1223 Office
Web Reference:  http://www.carolcei.com
0 votes
Laura Feghali, Agent, Stamford, CT
Mon Jun 4, 2012
Hello Paezle,
I'm in agreement that it is not a matter of the agent's ethical behavior but rather the agent assuming the to know the appraised value. Yes, agents have a pretty good idea on what property values are based on research of comparable sales, but the agent should have made it clear to the buyers that the possibility existed for the home to appraise at the buyer's offer price since she is not an appraiser. She should have explained the risk involved more clearly. At least, the buyers know that they would not be overpaying for the home.

The buyers still may be able to back away from the purchase if they cannot qualify for financing.

Good luck to you!

Laura Feghali
Prudential Connecticut Realty
0 votes
Frank Dolski, Agent, Lahaska, PA
Mon Jun 4, 2012
I don't know if ethical is the correct or incorrect word. I would say that the advice is not advice that I would give. Have you asked the agent or spoke to his/her manager about the issue? I would see how the agent reponds to your question as this is what advice thaat was given to you. I'd be curious to the response.
0 votes
Alan May, Agent, Evanston, IL
Mon Jun 4, 2012
Seems as though the agent's advice was wrong... but not sure it breaches ethics.

The agent, and the buyer both, had to imagine that there was a possibility that the property might appraise, and having put the bid in writing, there was a possibility that the buyer might get caught, and have to pay that amount.
0 votes
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