URGENT: Can a buyer real estate agent be changed before closing?

42 Replies | Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi guys,

I need some urgent advise. 

I am experiencing something that I didn't think could be the case.

I am about to close on a condominium in Virginia Beach and am completely out of sync with my buyer side agent. I don't know if I will be able to close unless I change my representative.

As much as I am not feeling good about doing it, I cannot see the alternative.  And I know for sure, I am not going to work with her on further transactions.

So, the question is, how can it be done with least pain?

I still want her to get at least a portion of commission and would hope that a new agent will share it with her as practically all the leg work is done.

We just need to submit closing extension (today) because there is no way I can close on Monday, logistically.

Now, I don't know how the seller could view the agent change at the same time as I am requesting a closing extension. He might grant it, he might not.

My offer was cash, no inspection, 10 days closing. I don't believe it should be as hard as it's been so far with this deal.

I really need help with this.

Close the deal, and find a new agent for next time.  Don't let personal feelings get in the way of closing deals.  There is no practical way to switch agents at this point without being required to pay the full commission yourself.

Additionally I would caution against these super quick 10 day closing windows.  It never ceases to amaze me how many fast closings require extensions which isn't fair to the seller, and I've seen numerous sellers deny those extensions.

Thank you @Ben Zimmerman,

Well, I can't imagine it to be true that is it is not fair to the seller.

I have received HOA pack only on Thursday evening and it was missing half pages. On Friday (yesterday) was my settlement day. If I received it earlier, at least within a week, and if I got information I needed from my agent on various items, I would be able to close just as planned. Instead I have 3 days and now it's weekend - I cannot call HOA to clarify number of critical CCR items.

Now, why am I required to pay the full commission to the agent whose quality of service is the reason for termination of my contract with them? 

I am in consulting business. If I to get my contract terminated because I deliver awful service, I wouldn't get paid and wouldn't expect it. 

If I to terminate the contract with my agent it is for cause. It is very inconvenient for me as I am risking to lose the deal. But I am not willing to work with someone who is extremely (!) rude, doesn't not respond to my requests etc. I believe we all have to be help to our professional standards, and if we fail to meet them our compensation must reflect it.

What am i missing?  (besides maybe that by law I don't ave options)?  (which i don't know whether I am).

You can fire them, but they will still be due the entire commission regardless if they continue to represent you or not. The payment to then is coming from the listing brokerage who has offered compensation to an agent to bring a ready, willing and able buyer to purchase and to close. If you close, theyve fulfilled the obligation to the person offering them compensation. 

Thank you guys, that sounds like a bummer... And it doesn't sound like it protects interest of the buyer at all.

There must be some way out of this situation... I can't believe that the agent can behave in any way they chose to and perform or not perform, and you are still obligated to pay them and cannot switch to a service provider who will actually represent your interest in to any degree satisfactory manner...

@Olga Kostrova ultimately, the broker is the one responsible for the agent, and I would bring it up with them.  As far as changing agents mid-stream, I don't know if it's possible.  I would talk to the supervising brokerage about your options.  Your best course is likely to trudge through this closing, and find a different agent for next time like @Ben Zimmerman said.  I also agree with him on the 10 day closing issue.  I do 21 day closings for my "quick" close transactions, and even then sometimes there's an extension necessary.

The best advise I can give is read your contracts both the buyer broker agreement and your contract for sale.

Your options should be spelled out pretty clearly concerning timelines and default by the parties. 

You may already be I. Default if your settlement date was Friday, and a termination was not served due to hoa contingency.

Agent is more than likely owed the full commission at this point regardless of if you close or not, he or she is the procuring cause and the contract was executed.  Unfortunately wether you were happy with the service or not has no bounds on the contract. If you do not close and are in default the broker can come to you for the commission owed, again you have to read your contract

Thank you, Douglas Mcqueen.

Question... "You may already be I. Default if your settlement date was Friday, and a termination was not served due to hoa contingency."

I requested my buyer agent in writing to file extension yesterday (when the settlement day was), and it doesn't seem she did.

So, if i default it's the brokerage responsibility, for both - their commissions and my deposit. Is it not?

Plus if I received HOA on Thursday night and settlement day was Friday (yesterday) the settlement day should automatically be moved to Sunday night deadline, is it not? As per my understanding I have an automatic extension for 3 days if HOA docs arrived so late? No? (This was not in the contract but this is what the agent told me)

Again read your contract, more than likely (especially if it’s a REIN standard) an extension can be granted for 10 days based on title alone, anything else you would have had to sign and seller would have had to sign, if you didn’t sign a document it was not done.  The agent is not responsible for meeting deadlines the contracted parties are.  I know this is not good news but it is the reality, good agents will take care of everything and provide that level of service, this does not mean all agents will take care of everything.

Much like when you buy an investment, you do your due diligence, and you make your money when you buy not sell.  You have to shop for an agent the same way, do your DD ahead of time, read and understand the contracts you sign before you sign them.

A 10 day close does not leave much room for error or time to digest any new or unknown info, barely enough time for tittle work.  If your going to close in 10 days you have to have all the info ahead of time or be prepared to close without it

Thank you, Douglas Mcqueen.

I hear that... Yes, i will double check the contract with them, but regardless...

Question". "if you didn’t sign a document it was not done. The agent is not responsible for meeting deadlines the contracted parties are."

Ok, but the only way I can sign an agreement is if the agent prepares the extension request and I sign it.  I in writing asked t=her to file extension, and I did never receive a document.  How the agent is not responsible in this case?

How could I meet the deadline if I am not provided with documents and steps that need to be taken for passing those documents to the seller?  I am having a hard time to wrap my head around it.

The agent is not an attorney, they have standardized forms they use (fill in the blank) a closing extension for due dilligence/hoa/etc... is not a standard form or ask without an inspection or due dilligence contingency.

Also when was this requested? If it was a week ago I can understand the frustration, if it was Thursday for a Friday close then the expectation was unreasonable, if it was Friday for a Friday close you were essentially already in default.

Your best bet at this point is to call the managing broker, they are ultimately the only one with the power to amend your contract with the agent and try to make things right. Your contract is with the broker not the agent, in VA all agents fall under a broker, the contract belongs to the broker. You should be able to call them now, they all work saturdays. The next step is to talk to your closing attorney and see what your options are.

The thing to remember is the agent/brokers are simply that, they broker the deal, they represent you.  The deal and contract however belong to you, the benefits and consequences of both, what your agent does or does not do falls on you, and what you allowed.  

If the broker doesn’t get you the answer you are looking for the next step is to take it up with DPOR, the Virginia licensing agency, and if they are a Realtor then HRRA.  But again I would not get your hopes up as it sounds like you are displeased with the service as a whole but does not sound like the service was in breech of the contract in which case as unfortunate as it may be equates to closeting the deal and going your separate ways.

Take it all as a learning experience and grow from it, see the value in the education.  

@Olga Kostrova , I understand the frustration and I'm sorry you're going through that.  You don't explain what the real problem is though and it appears that is just a personality conflict?  If there is a real problem and the agent isn't representing you correctly, I think there are a couple areas to explore.  First, is the agent employed by a managing broker?  Call that broker, and have them get involved.  Or, is the agent the employing broker or single person entity that has no one else helping keep them accountable? If so, then do your best to get the deal done.  If you have to help explain the situation (if it's a real issue) to the listing broker, I think it could be okay to call that broker and explain why there is a need to extend if your buyers broker isn't able to help you there.  Then, again, IF it's a real problem, then you can report them to what we have in Colorado, the Department of Regulatory Agency (DORA), or what it looks like in Virginia DPOR.

Thank you @Justin Hoggatt. Ops, not sure why it's bold font.

I have been requesting my agent to file extension for a week now - in writing and during calls. Instead she just talked to them and got a verbal extra day, not 4 days formally as requested, which pushes me to close when I am not logistically able.

But that's on top of extremely rude behaviour, screaming and calling me names on the phone because I keep requesting to have certain information before I can go ahead and proceed with closing - I needed to confirm on. match with a certain criteria.  I needed certain information before closing WHICH I REQUESTED EVEN BEFORE WE MADE AN OFFER, as it was my original attribute for picking the property in a first place, and I am not able to obtain it myself. She finally provided partial information but it was more of a "he said", "she said", and I am ok to go ahead with that, fine.  But I am not ok with the way how this communication handled.

So, yes, it's a personal conflict that i will not accept from my representative, and second - she is putting my deal in jeopardy, pushing me to close when I ma logistically unable (need fore time for funds transfer since it's cash and it's in investment account) and she puts my deposit at risk by not complying to my continuous requests to file the extension.

I just had to email the listing agent and ask for the extension or termination, as I don't see another way to resolve it. I don't want to deal with her brokerage and it's Saturday, who knows what they will put this whole thing through...

Originally posted by @Russell Brazil :

You can fire them, but they will still be due the entire commission regardless if they continue to represent you or not. The payment to then is coming from the listing brokerage who has offered compensation to an agent to bring a ready, willing and able buyer to purchase and to close. If you close, theyve fulfilled the obligation to the person offering them compensation. 

Russ, I suspect a lot of this falls on the listing agent.. sounds like a CCR issue or HOA issue.. when taking the listing the listing agent should get all those docs up front and load them into the MLS system as links PRIOR to putting it on the market.. And HOA's can be terrible about getting their stuff out.. they are not on time lines of the buyer seller.. CCR if that is an issue these have to be produced by a title search and if its like many East coast states that takes time.. its not like our WEst coast title plants that can get anything that is recorded in a matter of hours e mailed to you..

If buyer formally asked for written extensions and agent did not do it.. then thats an issue.. but seems like the buyer does not really know the flow of how CCR and HOA data is produced and then disseminated.. Just like cities that have Water bills etc that are liens on title it can take title folks week or more to just get those numbers.. I never understood why closings took so long in those states until I understood how it all worked.. for our markets utls are not a lien and never brought into the title closing function.. HOA CCR for sure those need to be and buyer is Very wise to read those and understand them before they close.. I saw folks buy rentals in Madison MS and not realize the CCR precluded the homes being rented at ALL they could only be owner occupied.. things like that.

 

Your last post makes it sound like you’re lucky the Hoa wasn’t ready. You say your cash still isn’t ready after 10 days? What if they had been ready on Friday? Then you’d be begging for an extension without a good reason. 

As long as it’s not a great deal you should be fine. Otherwise the seller should be asking for cash payments for each extension or going with another offer. 

Ps. Just another reason to always put in backup offers, even if the seller if confident their fast close cash buyer will perform. 

@Bill Brandt, I don't know if "lucky"...

I didn't want to move cash form my investment account till I actually qualified the property. Otherwise I would be in disadvantage withdrawing from it.  I am not an investor (just yet). For now, it's my residency till I start buying other properties and actually will become an investor. But I am not doing volume. For now it's a single deal and I wanted to do it at the pace that makes since for me.  And if the documents were ready earlier than I would still have at least 3 days to deal with cash, which wouldn't be a problem. I don't see a problem there... And I did discussed potential extension with my agent from the very beginning, because she was pushing me for a 10 day close which for me sounded very hurries and I was quite nervous about it...

The deal is fine... But I am not attached to it. It's just a deal...

Originally posted by @Olga Kostrova :

I wanted to do it at the pace that makes since for me.

A 10 day closing isn't the time to do things at your pace, a 10 day closing is peddle to the metal while you engage the afterburner.

You mention some HOA stuff, but later go on to say that ultimately you are ok with the HOA stuff, except you don't like the manner in which it was presented, and instead the real problem is that your agent is pushing you to close when you aren't ready to close due to funding. Why would you try to fire your agent for pushing for you to get your finances in order like you said you would when you put an offer on a 10 day closing.

If you're making quick close, cash offers, you need to have your finances already lined up, the fact that you aren't ready isn't your agents fault.

The investment account should have been liquidated the day your offer was accepted, that way the funds could transfer and settle and be ready to go on closing date. Trying to leave the funds in the account for an extra few days trying to squeak out a few extra cents in interest while you 'qualify' the house seems silly. If I was the agent and my clients money wasn't ready to go after we had offered quick cash close then I would be losing my mind right about now.

A 10 day no inspection, quick close, with cash offer should only be used when you know you want the house no matter what. It's not the time to be picky about subsections of an HOA agreement nor is it the time to slowly start getting your finances in order.

I'm genuinely not trying to be mean here, we've all made mistakes in our investing careers, myself included.  Making mistakes is how we learn and improve ourselves.  However I think it's important that we first acknowledge that a mistake was made, as we can't learn from our mistakes until we recognize that we have made a mistake in the first place.  Not having funds available on the date of closing on a cash deal is a pretty big mistake.

 

Just close the deal and pick a better realtor next time. No good realtor is going to take you on as a client right before close as they know there will be a conflict or lawsuit between brokerages for who gets the commission. Technically the first agent is the procuring cause of sale. The only way I can see it working is if the original agent and their brokerage signed something agreeing to X % commission only. 

Ben Zimmerman, seems you were not reading my posts.  (Bold font again, not sure why).

I know what my agreement with my agent was, and i know that the steps are not followed. If you cannot see it in my posts, you are just skimming it.

I know what I agreed to - which is quick close IF I get an extension if I need to, otherwise I was not willing. She wanted a sale, she wanted our offer to win, it did, great. BUT, I know that I didn't need rush or stress. It maybe worth to some, it's NOT worth to me.  I have a good business I like, and real estate is not my survival. I am buying this property for myself, to live in now, to rent later, it's not a volume thing that I have to be in a marathon for. I was very clear with her, she said "we will ask for extension if it will be to tight on time, I have your back".  I went into 10 deal closing ONLY with this agreement, that i will ask for more time if I need to (wterther the seller will extend or not it's upto them, if not I will move on). I asked, repeatedly, she avoided filing driving her own agenda that it will scare the seller and we will lose the deal. BUT I AM WILLING TO LOSE THE DEAL, it's upto me to decide it. If someone wants to chose stress in real estate it's their choice. i chose terms that are congruent with my desire for peace and a calm. I make choices that work for me, seller is welcome make their own and accept or not my extension request, but it MUST be made by the agent if the client requests it, especially if agreed on before the offer is even made. So, there is no such thing "you should have done this, and you should be ready with money that". It is and it should be what 2 people are agreed on. Period.

It is MY choice when as a buyer I decide to deal with funding - and my choice to transfer money from my investment account, considering current market, only IF and when the property is qualified to my needs.

 I also know how any service provider should NOT communicate with their clients (including real estate agents), UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES (it is called professionalism) or with any people (it is called kindness, compassion and politeness).  There is also such things as keeping one's word and following agreements to represent client's interest, not pushing your own agenda..

In any case, guys thank you for all your suggestions... All the good learning stuff.

Originally posted by @Olga Kostrova :

Thank you guys, that sounds like a bummer... And it doesn't sound like it protects interest of the buyer at all.

There must be some way out of this situation... I can't believe that the agent can behave in any way they chose to and perform or not perform, and you are still obligated to pay them and cannot switch to a service provider who will actually represent your interest in to any degree satisfactory manner...

Why use an agent at all?  Is this out of area? 

Ah, It is OOS.   You've just highlighted why some of us go solo.  The principal / consumer is not protected in an  agency contract.   They are 9-28 pages of CYA and pay or else. 

Yes, @Steve Vaughan, out of area. I am in California, buying in Virginia Beach and didn't even know the real estate buying process in Virginia, which is as I've learned is very different from what i know to be in Canada or some other US states.  Like for example in Virginia it's a buyer's responsibility to investigate, not seller responsibility to disclose property defects.  Very different from let's say, California where sellers are legally obligated to submit detailed disclosures and be liable.

Solo does sound like something I would do when I am a bit more equipped. :-)

I'm sorry this is so stressful for you.   Hopefully it's one of many great RE deals.  

If a closing date falls on a weekend or holiday, the date is automatically extended to the next business day.  Your escrow should have given you a timeline.  

Did you sign off on contingency removals? That's an important document in RE transactions. The HOA docs would have been part of your due diligence and inspection of them/acceptance would have likely been a contingency. How long is your due diligence period? 10 days also? Less?