Listing Agent Unethical Behavior Towards Older Vulnerable Seller

3 Replies

Can I, and how can I, help protect a seller I was working with from being taken advantage of by her Listing Agent? 

Through trying to purchase a house in Longmont, I have come upon a Listing Agent abusing the powers of his license. The seller is an older Indonesian women and the LA is her pastor. He is not physically or verbally abusing her. She lost trust in him, so she asked me to ask her LA to release her as a client to an attorney to oversee the transaction, since the LA was doing the services for free. The LA refused. LA told the seller and myself he was not taking a commission, but the offer the LA wrote states the LA is taking a commission. The LA also told the seller he had listed the house on the MLS over 1.5 months ago, but the LA just listed it yesterday.

It seems the Realtor Associations don't have much power beyond a few hundred dollar fine and required classes.  I'm speaking with them currently, but I'd like to help this seller out NOW if possible. Is there anything I can do, or should I just let it go?

Tell her to go see a lawyer and if she refuses let it go. If people are not willing to help themselves, when advised by someone they trust like yourself, then there is nothing you can do to help.

On the other hand if taking a commission is the only problem simply make that clear to her and again walk away. Taking a commission is not the worst thing in the world.

I can not for the life of me understand why people believe pastors are in some way special. They are not and can not be trusted any more than anyone else. I know first hand.

It sounds to me like you're saying you wrote up an offer using the seller's LA because he told both of you he was doing it as a free service to her, but that he wrote a commission into the offer?  Have you read the listing docs as they should state exactly what the fees are.  He might have listed it at his broker's minimum where he won't receive anything?  Either way, it still might be worth moving forward if seller is okay with her net, and an attorney may cost just as much or more.   I also find it misleading when listing agents state that they'll sell your home in x days or sell your home for free, when the small print says it's their listing commission part that's free, not the 3% selling side that seller would still pay, usually along with other requirements like a broker transaction fee, so "free" is not actually free.     

For whom did the listing agent write this offer in which he's taking a commission? Is he maybe doing the listing for free, but then also bringing a buyer and charging a buyer-side commission? If so, those are different things though may be hard for the (any) client to understand the distinction. Also, if he's working both sides of the transaction, in CO that has to be done via Transaction Brokerage which often times requires additional paperwork and disclosures depending on how the initial listing agreement reads (top of first page -- Seller Agency vs. Transaction Brokerage).

The seller really needs to review her listing agreement with a lawyer to see what her outs are. As you likely know, some allow for "fire me anytime" and others specify a specific length of time. If nothing else, she can just wait that length of time and then move on to another listing broker. 

Re the MLS actual listing date, it should be in their listing contract in section 3.6 the exact date that it was supposed to appear on the MLS. What's the recourse if it wasn't actually listed on that date? Other than reporting him for possible association and real estate division sanctions it would be something else to pursue legally if she wishing to do so.

Unfortunately, there's nothing I can suggest that goes towards the "what can I do for her NOW" other than moral support, and as others said if she's not willing to pursue this with a lawyer there's not too much you can do. 

I applaud you, though, for being outraged on her behalf and trying to help her address it. Let us know how it goes?

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