my realtor has been remiss in communicating a written offer to purchase to us throughout negotiations, only

Asked by Love To Fly, boston metrowest Tue May 20, 2008

presenting it to us after the expiration date for signature, and not providing us with time for legal counsel review. this realtor only told us the offer and then pressed us to sign the expired offer immediately. when we asked for a new copy and a delay for review prior to accepting the offer, we lost our buyers. we don't have any confidence in our realtor at this point, but live in a tiny town and fear reprisals if we switch. also, we have now lost a good sale. any suggestions for recourse? i have communicated directly with both agents, ours and the buyers, but have not heard back. our market is soft and slow, but not terrible, and our house is in perfect condition.

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Cameron Piper, Agent, Forest Lake, MN
Thu Jun 12, 2008
Love To Fly,

A real estate agent is duty bound to present all written offers to the seller by the realtors code of ethics. It may make you feel better to file a complaint but it is not an easy process and in the end unless it is a repeat offense little will likely happen. That said I am a strong proponent of the work of all of the local professional standards committees and have served on mine throughout the years. Be sure to submit as much detail in your original complaint as possible.

If you buyer walked on a contingency (if they still had one left) their deposit is most likely off limits since they indeed walked away correctly. Ask your attorney to review the situation and get his/her opinion. Be sure to ask for the deposit in the mutual termination agreement (in most states you will need this in order to sell to someone else), make them say no, don't just give it to them. In MN they would have you over a barrel though since you need them to sign the cancelation more than you need their earnest money.

To file a complaint find out the name of the local board of realtors that you agent is a member of and call and ask to speak to someone about filing a grievance for an alleged violation of the realtors code of ethics. I hope that helps!!

Cameron Piper
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Love To Fly, Both Buyer And Seller, boston metrowest
Thu Jun 12, 2008
for anyone who was kind enough to reply -- the buyers came back on board, the realtor did a number of other things that were just plain unethical, the broker of her agency took over. we spent two weeks negotiating the p&s, with four extensions requested by the buyers, and today when we were all supposed to sign, they decided to walk away, claiming that we were supposed to pay for an electrician to install a light fixture (which was never part of the deal). legal fees, aggravation, time off from work, and a loss of a total of four weeks market time. plus i had found a house that i had my offer accepted on (with a contingency for the sale of my home), and i am so upset! my attorney requested we sign a mutual termination agreement but i just don't understand why we do not have any recourse, and why we should not have access to their deposit -- they failed to meet a number of the obligations in the offer to purchase. now we are stuck with legal fees and back to square one (although i am definitely hiring another realtor). worse, the timing is now all messed up for the start of the school year. any suggestions other than to just take it in stride and move on?
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Pacita Dimac…, Agent, Oakland, CA
Wed May 21, 2008
Sometimes, a buyer's agent may submit an offer days after it was originally signed by the buyers, but the expiration date may have been unchanged. If this is the case, and if it happens again next time you receive an offer, and you want to continue the dialogue, you can counter the offer and include the provision to extend the date/time for responding to their offer.

Why would you fear reprisals? Realtors compete among themselves for the business. If anything, they may be knocking on your door as soon as you cancel your agreement with your currnet realtor.

Please remember, you are the client. The realtor is your service provider. He works for you. If you are unhappy with his service, you can:
1) communicate your dissatisfaction to your realtor by giving him this feedback;
2) give advance notice that you expect to be apprised immediately when there is an offer;
3) review your contract. Know your rights and obligations and see if you can back out of your agreement with the listing agent and under what circumstances;
4) terminate his service if you are still dissatisfied even after telling him what your expectations are.

Good luck.
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Stacey A. Ma…, , Westfield, MA
Tue May 20, 2008
Hi Fly, it sounds like this buyer has definitely moved on. I don't think it is safe to assume that your broker or the requests that you made, were the reason that they decided to look elsewhere. It is actually surprisingly common for buyers to get cold feet. If they were truly committed to your house from the beginning, a brief delay for a clean offer and review should not have been enough to make them skittish. It can be frustrating negotiating at arm's length because it is sometimes difficult to get an accurate read on what is happening. However, if these folks jumped ship at such a small request, I am afraid they might have been real trouble for you in inspections or in obtaining loan commitment. By then, the house would be showing as "Under Agreement" and "Back on the Market" in the MLS system, which always makes subsequent buyers ask - what went wrong?.

A couple of other thoughts, it is common in the area of MA where I practice for the expiration date on the offer to be seen as more of a goal than a specific technical deadline. If both parties are happy with the terms presented, and we are moving along, then it is not usually seen by either party as a crisis if the offer is not signed by the expiration date. Of course, the date and time of expiration can become critical in multiple offer situations, but it doesn't sound like that is what you were dealing with. Also, it is unusual, again, in my experience, to have an offer reviewed by attorney's for either side before being signed. The offer usually used is the boiler plate, fill in the blanks variety which doesn't leave us lay people too much room for legal wrangling. We usually leave that to the drafting of the Purchase and Sale contract, which the attorneys for both sides are very involved in. Was there something specific in this offer which was making you nervous? If not, and you just are the kind of folks who like to have your t's crossed and i's dotted - then I would recommend reviewing the offer forms used in your area with your attorney, before any new offers arrive. This way, when the next offer comes in, you will be comfortable with the terms and will be able to act quickly.

Again, I don't think we have enough information to lay blame at either the brokers actions or at yours. Look at the positives of the situation instead - she(or he) brought you a buyer, willing to make an offer which was in the right ballpark. So pricing and the marketing plan are not a problem. I would hang in there a little longer, be clear that you were disappointed with the way this played out, and with what steps you will both take to avoid this in the future. Have faith that for whatever reason, this was not meant to be and there is a better buyer out there for you. Best Wishes, Stacey
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Love To Fly, Both Buyer And Seller, boston metrowest
Tue May 20, 2008
unfortunately the realtor is one of the owners of the agency (the co-owner is the spouse). i am frustrated because i have no idea how our concerns were presented to the buyers, but it must have been in such a way as to make them withdraw their offer. now we are back to square one, entering the summer market, with a realtor who is blaming us for losing the sale.
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Kristin Coll…, Agent, Chicago, IL
Tue May 20, 2008
Since you have already voiced your concern with your agent, I would advise that you speak with the agents Managing Broker; that is if you are not already working with a real estate broker who owns their own agency. Call the managing Broker of the company your agent represents and they should be able to handle the situation. Your agent is not only losing a sale for herself and you but their company as well.
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