Fischer: Proof that real estate isn’t an occupation for everyone
“If we were to ask for closing costs, how would I write that on the contract?” This question was from a buyer’s agent who was attempting to write up an offer on one of my listings.
“Well, I replied, not only would that be a really good question for your broker, but it is also an irrelevant question on this particular listing because my seller has directed me to inform all agents on incoming offers that they will not be agreeing to pay for closing costs.” As a postscript I had to ask, “How long have you been practicing (in air quotes) real estate?”
“Oh, for the past five years. I took a break last year though. It was just too hard.” I will spare you the commentary on his last statement. Suffice it to say, he should know that there is a specific form that is available to all Realtors on the MLS (multiple listing service) addressing closing costs. It is literally just filling in a couple of blanks.
Don’t get me wrong, if there is a new agent on the other side of a deal who needs some guidance, I am happy to point them in the right direction. We were all new once, so I get it. However, this guy had been licensed for the last five years. Perhaps he should not have been left unattended while writing an offer at this point in his career.
Either way, he did write up a full price offer for his client with no solicitation for closing costs. He sent it over. After requesting a prequalification letter, which he sent, he called me. “We are offering full price, but there is no way it is going to appraise for that, in which case your seller will be forced to lower the price.”
“No sir, he will not be forced to lower the price. If an appraisal comes in lower than the offer price, that is a time when we renegotiate. The seller has choices, as does the buyer. If the seller refuses to lower the price, the buyer can pay the difference in cash at closing, or she can walk away. She can get her earnest money back, since it is contingent on appraisal, but my client is not forced to accept the appraisal price.”
“Huh, I’ve never heard of that,” was his response. After picking my jaw up off the floor, I assured him that this was fact and that he should probably let his client know. He may or may not have, but either way, he did want his offer presented.
Meantime, my client had talked to his wife and family and had decided that selling this custom-built vacation home was not something they wanted to do after all. Although they didn’t spend as much time there as they had initially planned, the time they did spend together was worth holding onto it. Despite receiving a full-price offer, they decided to reject it and take the home off the market.
I called the buyer’s agent and explained this to him. “He can’t do that,” was his reply. “We could sue him. I brought a ready, willing and able buyer with a full asking price offer. Your client is now obligated to accept it. At the very least, he owes me my commission for bringing the buyer.”
Holy cow in a field of chickens, where did this dude attend real estate school? “He actually can do that; it is in his legal right. I would recommend reading the real estate purchase contract through, alongside your broker. If you continue to have questions, there is a legal hotline that is available for all Realtor members. I can give you the number.”
“Well, this happened on my own home and I was forced to sell and we didn’t even want to.”
“Then you were a victim of some bad advice,” I retorted.
“You can at least force them to pay you a commission,” he offered.
And that, my friend, would be bad business. I would never do that. My seller may or may not ever sell his vacation home, but either way, I will be available to help. As for the other Realtor, I hope that he can either solicit some relevant training or pick another profession. This gig is truly not for everyone.
Jen Fischer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or firstname.lastname@example.org.