How do we Handle Double-Dealing Buyers' Agents?

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Pat Kapowich for the San Jose Mercury News

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Q: Our listing agent recently called and informed us the buyers were canceling our transaction without an explanation.  Our agent stated that since it was early in the look-and-see phase of inspections, disclosures and so forth, they did not have to justify a cancellation.  The very next day, an appraiser called our listing agent for access to our home. On a hunch, our listing agent then called the cancelled buyers’ loan officer directly who accidentally admitted that these buyers had made two offers, on separate properties, that were both accepted.  My husband became incandescent hot with anger and plans to meet with a lawyer.  Our listing agent claims that although this unsavory practice is a problem, we should put it behind us, and focus on selling, not suing.  How can I assist both my husband and our listing agent while keeping the peace?

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A: Easy.  Since the two-offer “practice” was not disclosed to you, the sellers, or your agent, a colleague of the buyers’ agent, there are several options.  Let your husband keep his legal consultant as long as it is with a real estate attorney and make sure you and your agent attend all meetings if possible.  There might not be a deposit in escrow to “fight” over. If that is the case, it was not an accident.

 

If their is a deposit in escrow, the buyers will be trying to rescind the sale and release the deposit as well. The real estate attorney might instruct you and your listing agent to cancel the sale only and not release the deposit.  Your listing agent can use an Ombudsman at a local real estate association to help streamline any paperwork “delays.” You will need a release of contract before you put your home back on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).  You and your spouse and/or your listing agent can also file a grievance with the real estate association.   Once the grievance is deemed legitimate, it is then forwarded to the Professional Standards Committee for a hearing.  All parties will attend and attorney(s) are welcomed, too.

 

There can be multiple levels of punishment/re-schooling, as well as monetary damages dealt-out by committee members if they have good cause to “police their own.”  You do need to earnestly sell your home with real or imagined enthusiasm. Greet all visitors warmly, with a smile and when buyers’ agents are calling to schedule showings, make sure your smile can be “heard” over the telephone.  This goes especially for your husband. The final sales price versus the rescinded “contract” price will play a role for the almighty “how have you been damaged” question.  Either way, that double-dealing buyers’ agent will soon be staring at a series of losing hands.

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Contact Pat Kapowich, The Santa Clara County Association of Realtors President's Choice Award Winner for 2013 at (408) 245-7700 and/or Pat@SiliconValleyBroker.com