Merc News Market Wise Q&A: Buyer's Agent Keeps Ignoring Deadlines

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Pat Kapowich for the San Jose Mercury News Q: We have a sale in progress regarding our personal residence.  The problem that keeps arising is that the buyer’s agent is constantly ignoring each deadline.  Our listing agent keeps threatening to remove the buyer from the sale, which falls on deaf ears.  This precarious situation make us very uneasy about making solid plans for the future as well as committing to our moving vendor.  How can we get this buyer’s agent to perform professionally?

 

A:  This industry has changed over the decades.  Real estate professionals used to go out of their way to help their respective clients meet deadlines.  These days, many agents are operating without proper training or supervision.   These particular agents don’t see deadlines as time limits and finishing dates, but more akin to recommendations.

It’s important that your listing agent put the buyer’s agent on notice before a deadline.  Real estate attorneys frown on letting any deadlines come and go unchallenged.  It indicates that the seller and the listing agent are just as relaxed about timelines as the undisciplined buyer and buyer’s agent.  If that’s the case, it makes it difficult to later enforce deadlines previously agreed to in the purchase contract.  It is also hard to kick a buyer out of sale for missing deadlines that were discovered after the fact.

The chain of command at a real estate office begins with an agent working directly with the public.  He or she works under the supervision of a sale’s manager.  The sales manager in turn reports to the broker-of-record.  The broker-of-record could report to a firm’s unlicensed owner or board of directors.  In this scenario, you or your listing agent should get the sale’s manager involved in the sale immediately.  If the sales manager and broker-of-record is one of the same, all the better.  (However, since 80% of the nation’s agents work for firms with 5 or fewer agents; the buyer’s agent in your case could be all of the above). If the buyer’s agent in your transaction is the broker/owner of his or her firm, you’ll need to contact the agent’s local association of REALTORS (trademark symbol) to start the complaint process.  Then an ombudsman or the person in charge of professional standards will contact the buyer’s agent.   This tactic usually will get a sale back on track.  If not, a well-crafted letter from a real estate attorney will.

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Realtor Pat Kapowich, Kapowich Real Estate, is a Certified Residential Broker. Contact him at (408) 245-7700 or SiliconValleyBroker@gmail.com

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In 2014, Pat was the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors “President’s Choice” Award Winner.For demonstrating the principles of good real estate practice among brokers; for promoting and protecting home ownership and property rights for all; and for distinguished service to the members of the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® and the community at large.”