Closing costs, response time, purchase price, deadline, property description, code of ethics; all part of the vernacular of a licensed Realtor. At least it should be. Before last week, it used to be an assumption. It was something that I simply took for granted — the fact that every Realtor is familiar with the pronunciation and meaning of these basic terms that we use every day in our business. It’s Real Estate 101. Sadly, gone are the days when I can make such a bold conjecture.
It started last week. My clients expressed an interest in a listing that I had sent over earlier. I printed the listing off with all the relevant information on it and set an appointment. We met over there later that day and spent some time looking through the home. It is a very unique home with some great features. However, the listing mentioned that there was both a kitchen and a fireplace in the basement. Both myself and my clients looked with all of our might and could not see even a slight indication that there were either. Yet, we moved on. Neither of these things were deal breakers for them.
The listing had been on the market for several days. In this market, that is almost unheard of. It was a unique house, however, so it made sense that not everyone would love the way the home had been remodeled. My clients did. They decided to make an offer. I called the agent and told him we were sending an offer over. He explained that this was actually his parents' house and he would get the offer right over to them and, after I explained the terms, he said he was sure they would accept and he could get it right back to us and get it under contract so we wouldn’t have to compete. The response deadline was 6 p.m.
The deadline came, and it went. No word from the agent. I called and texted. He finally got back to me and said his parents decided to wait to respond until two other couples went through the home. I told him that was fine; however, we were technically out of contract and they run the risk of not getting another offer and us moving on to another house. We continued looking.
The next three days passed with no response, and then a phone call. “Your clients asked for $6,000 in closing costs. My title company can do it for much less.”
“I’m sure that theirs can too. Closing costs include the cost of the loan.”
“Why does it cost that much?”
I explained to him that the amount my clients were asking for wasn’t even close to the cost of the loan. It was just a percentage. I asked him if this was his first transaction since he didn’t know what closing costs were. He didn’t respond. I looked up his production. Unfortunately, this was not his first transaction, so that wasn’t an excuse. Oh dear.
The agent finally sent over a counter to my clients' (expired) offer. He didn’t address the response deadline in the counter. My clients decided to take another look at the house to see if they wanted it badly enough to sign the counter and address the deadline ourselves. While we were at the property, the agent arrived with a client of his own. As he was showing this client the home, he fully disclosed my clients' offer and then editorialized his thoughts about the offer and his assumptions about my client. My client heard the whole thing.
That night I called him. He didn’t answer. I texted him and told him that I would be sending him an email explaining why my client was not accepting the counter. I told him that he had completely offended my buyer with his assumptions. It was unprofessional at best. While it is not illegal to disclose another party’s offer to a potential buyer, as long as the agent has permission from his seller to do so, it is probably not in the seller’s best interest. That puts a cap on what the other offer would be.
Here is the moral of the story: If you are going to hire a relative to help you buy or sell one of your largest financial assets you will have in your life, be sure they can at least put their own pants on in the morning by themselves. If this had been handled by a true professional, his parents could have, very likely, ended up with more money in their pocket and a smooth transaction to boot.
Jen Kirchhoefer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-645-2134.