Unethical real estate agent may be taking advantage of seller

20 Replies

I have a quandry.

I am looking to buy a property and the seller is an older gentlemen who is sick, possibly very sick. I contacted his agent and it is actually two women, mother and daughter, that represent him. They have been extrememly pushy and trying to get me to the table. Very high strung type personalities. So far they have made these blunders:

1. I sent a list of questions via agents that I needed answered before I even looked at the property. They responded several times saying they had talked to him and everything was good and we should meet. They set up a meeting with an attorney this thursday, BFD deal, and we have half an hour slotted to ask/answer questions. The attorney is doing it for free, but I explained to them I don't need an attorney yet, I just need exact answers to the questions so I can decide if I need to move forward. Seeing that I didn't get that I asked them if they had even asked their client the questions. instead of answering me directly she steered toward the meeting on Thursday and said that's the time they expect me to ask questions and get answers on the items I needed. I stoped her, and asked again, did you ask your client the questions? She again tried to steer away. I cut her off and asked her again. She finally admited no, she had not. I explained that I needed those quesitons answered because if her client was not willing to at least entertain my terms then it would be unecessary to go further. She got upset with me and said that if I had a certain dollar limit then I should just let my agent know and she would tell her and they would ask the client if it was enough. She was rude and unprofessional and basically told me she didn't ahve time to ask her client the questions.

My agent is also having a hard time with them. She contacted them to say I was interested in the property and would like to get some questions answered and schedule a showing. They said sure, but then called her twice that day to ask if they were going to get a contract signed by COB that day. She explaine to them I have my due diligance to do and needed to ensure it was a buy I wanted. They seemed miffed that it would even take that long.

She also noticed on the MLS that they had marked the comission as 30% not 3% and when she called their office to let them know, they seemed indifferent to it. It got changed later, but she explained to them it was a serious violation of realtor practice and could have put their client on the hook for a huge comission.

So here is my questtion/concern. I believe these realtors are fully taking advantage of this old man, and I don't know if I should call him and let him know what's going on. I know I may lose the deal, but I have signed nothing and don't know if I will get in trouble for letting him know.

Any thoughts?

What are the questions you were trying to get the agent(s)/owner to answer? There are plenty of things that the agent does not have to ask/answer and may not want to ask/answer.

Some agents are just incompetent and/or bad at their jobs. Some don't want to spend a lot of extra time/effort for a low commission sale. And as you are alluding to, some are probably perfectly fine with taking advantage of somebody who cannot take care of themselves. It's hard to tell what category these two fall into.

Given what you've described, I'd be hard-pressed to assume they are taking advantage of him. MLS typos are commonplace. I'm no legal expert, but I can't imagine that the info provided on the website is binding in any way (the contract is what dictates all terms of the sale).

What type of sale is this that you're scheduling a meeting with the selling agent and an attorney before even having a contract in place?

I don't think you're reading it right. The 30 verses 3% obviously was a typo. The commission paid by the seller is determined by their listing agreement with the agent, not what's posted in MLS or even in a purchase agreement. Exactly what types of questions are you trying to get answered. Sounds you're looking for owner financing, and the agents are probably justifiably leary of this, especially with a sick elderly client. I, as a listing agent, wouldn't go through the exercise of trying to iron out these kinds of details with someone who hadn't even seen the property either, and I certainly wouldn't set a meeting with an attorney and buyer at this point.

This is a Bond for Deed sale. The gentlemen is basically wanting the property management side taken over. My agent said the MLS typo could have been taken by an unscrupulous agent, printed, and presented at end of deal when everything is signed. She said items on MLS can be binding, and he would have to sue to get his money back if they managed to go through with deal.

I didn't schedule the meeting, they did. And it was in response to me asking to meet with the seller to discuss the details of teh BFD to determine what his terms would be, i.e, two year finance, how much over mortgage he wants, that kind of thing. I think they are pushing for a contract far too soon. I have not even seen the property personaly, and I have some basic questions that need answered, which will determine if I can even do the deal. Here are the quesitons and my agents email

1. I can't make much, if any, down payment. Most of the money I will

scrape together will be to pay for the attorney, and agent commissions and

other such items. Even then, I don't know if I will have enough. So, will

the seller accept little or no down payment?

2. What is his current mortgage and all monthly expenses on the

property? i.e, does he pay water, electricity, gas?

3. It will take me 2 years to get enough capital to try and buy him

out with a conventional loan (guess), is he ok with the bond for deed for

2 years then I try and refinance under a conventional loan?

4. I want to reserve the ability to be able to continue the bond for

deed if I am unable to refinance at the 2 year mark. Is he ok with that?

In addition to answers to these questions, please provide copies of all

current lease agreements.

My client is planning on meeting with the bond for deed attorney on

Thursday but may not be in a ready position to sign docs at that time as

he would like to do all of his due diligence ahead of time.

Thank you,

As far as taking advantage, what do you mean? They obviously are not operating in his best interest unless his best interest is to hide something from you, the buyer. In that case, I would contact the agents' managing broker. If they are the managing broker, report them to the Louisiana RE Commission or their association of Realtors. On top of contacting the appropriate authorities, I would not make an offer on the property until you get all of your questions answered, but it sounds like you already knew that.

Oh, and I own a simliar property right down the street. I know the kind of condition it's in and am fairly comfortable with the property, i.e, i'll do the inspections and all, just need to know if my terms are ok. I had set up a meeting before and they said they would only let me see two units. I said I wanted to see all and the agents said no, that the owner has tenants and doesn't want to risk losing them. I don't even think they asked him.

And I know my terms for the BDF are steep, but that's why I am asking him first before wasting anyones time. It's the position I am in. I can get the 13-15k for comission and fees, but not the 50+k for down payment at 20~%. I wanted to be upfront and let him know my position and what I can offer. Instead, the agents are continuously pusing for meeting with attorney and seem to be ignoring my agent an my concerns. It's frustrating.

I think you are jumping to far too many conclusions, based on zero facts. You have an agent, let them schedule a showing. It may be the listing agents client is elderly and not able to represent themselves, therefore; the sellers attorney will represent the seller in setting terms, etc.

If your agent isn't able to get the answers from the listing agents that you need, your agent should contact the listing broker. If that doesn't work, then it's up to your agent to contact the local board and file a complaint, or ?

It may be that the agents realize you don't have the ability to purchase the property right now and just don't want to put time and energy into it. The deal you are trying to do is very unlikely to happen. Sorry.

By taking advantage, I mean they are not presenting him with my offer. They are just pushing him to the table. I don't think they have explained the BFD to him completely and made him aware of my terms. He should be offered the terms my agent presented and be given the option to decline, amend, or agree, from there we can meet. This has not been done, instead they are puysing straight to meet with attorney.

Agreed, Karen. I think it is very unlikely to happen. But I can only be told no. I don't mind the no, just not when it takes a smeeting between real estate agents and an attorney to get there. If the agents don't feel he will accept the offer, then fine, but then say that. Say, my client won't accept that, or if not, then present it to him and let him decide. Why waste his time, the attorney, and mine just to ask him a few questions that could be answered over the phone in less than 2 minutes and we move on. And I asked if the meeting was for the client, they said the meeting was for me to ask the attorney questions about BFD, which I don't need answers for. Confusing. So yes, I am maybe jumping to conclusions, but I have to admit, my agent and I are completely baffled by their actions and seemingly unorganized approach. I am seeing the consesnus here though, let my agent deal with it. If she feels need then she will file complaint. Thank you for your view on it.

Your agent is Wrong that something posted in MLS would be binding on the seller or title/closing agent. It would be binding only from the listing agent to the selling agent, and would be dismissed as an obvious error. Actually, with offering practically no money down, I wouldn't waste a lot of time talking to you. No offense, but my job is to do what's the best for the seller, not find a way for a buyer to get in with no money down, and put the seller at a higher risk, especially with someone that doesn't look like they can refi out in 2 years, and Especially a buyer apparently with no cash reserves for repairs/capex.

@Ryan Ruiz

As @Karen Margrave mentioned, perhaps that attorney is representing the seller's interests and will be able to negotiate terms on his behalf? I also agree with Karen that this is a pretty big stretch of a proposed deal, so if you really want it, why not invest that half hour with the attorney and the seller's agents and find out what they have to say? Seems like you have already spent way more that trying to get your questions answered via the agents - your meeting might get you closer to the source.

Incidentally, it seems rather unlikely to me (though I might be off on that) that a seller would share existing lease documents and such without some sort of offer or at least an LOI.

I agree about the leases Andrew, it was just something my agent tossed in, but in any case, there are no leases.

I will be all ears at the meeting. I am very interested in his terms. I have 15K reserve, so there is cash, but I don't know if/how we need to handle it. If he wants it as a down payment then I won't have the ability to pay comission, or if he wants 10k. I can do that, and swing the rest to commissions. I have some cash, just not 50k. I'll go to the meeting and see what he needs. Hopefully I come away with more from there. I just don't liek being rushed into something and that's what this feels like.

Unless it's a very odd listing agreement, the seller wouldn't be in jeopardy for the MLS typo, even if a selling agent could press the case with the listing agent. It's also so blatant an error, it would be hard to make a case that you actually thought commission was going to be 30%.

Many listing agents don't like getting questions in stereo -- from both the principal and the agent. If you're working with an agent, funnel communication through them. If you don't trust them to represent you, then you need a new agent.

It's not uncommon to not show all units until there's an accepted offer. I also wouldn't turn over leases as an owner or recommend that a seller turn them over without an accepted offer.

As said previously, the lawyer may be representing the seller and the agents are acting in the sellers best interest by setting that meeting up.

I would take a buyer more seriously with a written offer that explains your terms, that contains all contingencies to allow for your due diligence (leases, inspection of all units, verification of expenses, etc.), to present to my seller.

It looks like you are new to the business. Meet with them and ask your questions at that time. Now let's say they want cash can you closed the deal if not you are wasting your and their time...

Joe Gore

Thank you all. I will meet and ask/listen then. I understand about the stero piece, the questions went through my agent. I think I will just show up at the meeting and see how it goes. I just will make sure not to sign anything.

On another note, since I am the buyer, am I expected to pay any comission? Could I not just offer the seller the 10-15K as downpayment?

It is funny how your perspective changes depending on where you are sitting.

I could imagine those two agents posting on an internet forum for real estate agents, talking about the lengths they had to go to to protect their elderly, seriously ill client from an unethical, fake buyer who was trying to take advantage of him with some sort of scammy-sounding "creative" offer that leaves all the risk with their client while requiring the "buyer" to put essentially none of his own skin in the game.

Not saying that's you, but I could see it.

Yes, thanks for the pespective. I am a ful time VA employee who works with elderly disabled veterans all day. I have no intention of taking advantage of him, in fact, I understand he needs to just get rid of the burden of the property and I want to make sure can. In fact, should he deny the offer id like to come back and offer to manage it for him since I have a property down the street. I'd collect and give him the rent for free even. I feel his pain.

To go along with what @Wayne Brooks said about commission, when you sign a listing agreement, it is between the seller and the listing agent (let's say 6% for this example). The Listing Agent (LA) then negotiates with Buyer's Agent (BA) for the buying agent's compensation. You can make the MLS listing part of the contract, but the BA's compensation is not the responsibility of the seller.


Just to update everyone. I met with the attorney and the realtor today and was completely shocked at the outcome. First off, the seller was not there. Near show stopper at that point. I had decided to listen in anyway at this point and see what I could see since I was worried I was jumping to conclusions. Without the seller there I only had one question for the attorney, how much does he charge, so I asked it and the sat down. The sellers agent asked the attorney most of the questions, which were all about what a bond for deed is and the things she needed to know to ask the seller. It became strikingly clear the meeting was not really for the seller, but for the agent to find out what a bond for deed was. I was shocked. She should have already known this. The attorney was shocked too. He tried to politely tell her the seller should have been here and that this is pointless without him. She said he was supposed to be there and wasn't sure why he wasn't (I found out why later). So me and the attorney began educating her on bond for deed, even with my limited knowledge on the topic it was obvious I knew way more than she did. It came to the point where I realized she did not even ask the seller any of the questions my agent had requested, and at that point I had to interject. I asked her if she had presented any of the questions my agent had sent her to the seller, she said no, that she didn't want to just go on verbal questions because she didn't think it meant I was serious. The attorney cut her off at this point and asked me what the questions were. I listed them and he flat out told her those were absolute pertinent questions needed for my agent to write an offer. He basically told her that if we put an offer together before knowing those answers and more, it would be a waste of time for the agents and myself. He said in a bond for deed the seller needs to be involved early and often. Since we have started this it's obvious the agents have kept the seller shut out of almost everything. I was completely shocked.

I knew I was just answering questions and finding information today so I didn't bring my agent. I specifically told the other agents this when they called to give me the time and place for the meeting. After the meeting they sent my agent an email accusing her of standing them up, yet their own seller was not there, the most important piece of the puzzle.

I felt completely justified in doing what I did after I left that office. I decided to let the deal go, and follow my ethics. I called the seller and explained the entire situation from day one on what I had been dealing with. I found out the agents had never even told him the time and place for the meeting today. He had been waiting for a phone call the entire day and....nothing.

I gave him the number to my agent and told him if he feels he needs confirmation to please call her, and I gave him the number to the attorney we had met, which they had failed to provide him as well. I told him I wished we could have come to a deal, but I felt better about making sure he was not messed over by agents who obviously had no idea what they were doing. He was surprised by all of this and had no trouble believing it as some of the things I was saying were confirmed by events on his end. I hope he dumps them and finds agents who better work for him, and not against him.

I'm going to try and report these agents somewhere. They were horrible and absolutely did not support their client.

Wow, it always amazes me that agents and people try to get away with things especially when their business is managing clients expectations and customer relations.

I had purchased a property not long ago at an adult community. Long story short I had asked my agent a few times what the hoa fees were as the margins were thin on this property. She repeatedly told me 342. The whole closing process was a nightmare their attorney was unresponsive while the selling agent was accusatory claiming i was delaying the process. Lots more off the point drama. Finally less than a week before closing i was looking at the paper work realized HOA was $400 a month. I was really pissed. I went ahead with the deal but i raised hell. My agent said she was reaidng it off teh mls and i was pissed and the sellers agent said woops i must have looked ta old listing...(even though i later found out it was never that) I told them i was going to file an ethics complaint with MLS and the Realtors assoc. They obviously dont want it as they can be held liable for damages and cost them lots of money. The manager at my agents office was very nice and essentially took responsibility and they dropped their commission $600. In the end i didnt follow through will filing a complaint against the negligence of the sellers agent mostly because i just wanted to move on. (She made all sorts of excuses through the attorney at closing about family issues etc...)

In the end you never know who you are dealing with...

I was told by my new agent she has asked a selling agent to get a signed form that the seller was told the deal when she thought they were being shady... and in the end she realized they forged the sellers signature to get her off their back...She pushed to a point but let it go thats when she became my new agent.

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