Terminating A Contract With A Bad Real Estate Agent

Q: My real estate agent failed to notify me of a valid bid for my property.

He claimed to have opened the bid on a Sunday evening and failed to realize the bid expired on the next day at noon. He failed in other areas as well. He inaccurately filled out the paperwork for the local Board of Realtors, put up inaccurate information on the local MLS, estimated the value of a swimming pool at $70,000 instead of the actual retail price of $46,999, and quibbled with us over whether to list a new park and library within walking distance of our property.

He was even going to miss our closing. After all that, but mostly because he missed letting us know about an offer, I terminated the relationship.

The new agent sold the house within 120 days, in January during the housing and mortgage market collapse of 2010. I feel the inept agent owes me. What do you see?

A: Maybe I’m missing something, but I wonder exactly how you’ve been damaged in this transaction. Did you sell the property for less than you would have with the original agent?

How did you deal with the original agent through all of these mistakes? Did you go to his managing broker to complain and ask for a different agent? How did you even find the agent to begin with? Did you interview several and was impressed with this person’s results? Or, did you pick the first agent in the phone book?

For a lawsuit to produce the desired results, you’d have to start by showing that you were somehow damaged by the agent’s actions. And, that you have a legal right to collect as a result of those actions. A litigator, who specializes in real estate cases, should be able to guide you further.

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4 Responses to Terminating A Contract With A Bad Real Estate Agent

  1. Erica Segen says:

    That buyer WAS damaged. She lost a lot of time having to start over with a new agent, and probably had to accept a lower bid due to the market sliding at that time.
    Also, the filling out of inaccurate information is so common, and it can be damaging too. It can turn away the one buyer who sees the wrong information and is affected by it. Even simple mistakes can do this.

  2. Chris Martin says:

    I am not sure what you would sue this agent for but most consumers don’t realize an important part of the real estate business. You actually hired a brokerage to represent you in the sale of your property. The individual agent represents the brokerage that represents you, If you have an issue with an individual agent you should contact the broker in charge of the company that represents you.

    If it is a one man shop you are out of luck, but if it is a larger office you can ask the broker in charge for a different representative (agent) to work with you.

    Don’t be afraid to ask questions and expect a good work product from the brokerage you hire. I can guarantee you that the agent and brokerage want to find a buyer for your property. That’s why we are in this business.

  3. Jim Shelby Chambers says:

    Well, certainly this requires more action than just a “whoops” and a shrug of the shoulders. The sellers will have to contact some attorneys, though, to determine whether or not they have a case that an attorney will take. Lawyers won’t take a case if they don’t see it resulting in big enough bucks.
    We don’t really know enough to determine whether there’s a case. Was the house vacant? If so, then certainly the seller was having to pay a mortgage for additional months because their agent dropped the ball and lost an offer, making the seller wait for another.
    Sometimes contacting the broker doesn’t result in action. A broker might try just as hard to sweep it under the rug as the agent does. Why would they offer any compensation if they aren’t forced to do so? Sometimes we humans just have to be forced to do right by each other. That’s unfortunate, but it’s a fact of life. How many people do you know who deny wrongdoing, or avoid responsibility for their actions if it means losing money? LOTS of people.
    E.g., we were trying to sell our home from out of state. A buyer’s agent came by and backed out of our driveway without looking, knocking down the “For Sale” sign, destroying a new flower bed, and hitting the fire hydrant. The agent called my agent to complain that the fire hydrant damaged her bumper! My agent replaced the sign, which had tire marks and mud on it. Neither the buyer’s agent NOR her broker took responsibility, saying only “it was an accident”. Well, of course it was, but WE had to pay to replace the flower bed, and she wanted us to pay for her bumper.
    In another house, a buyer and agent left the back door of our vacant house wide open on a cold night, costing us a huge run-up in our utility bill. We were lucky that we happened to go to the house the next day, or it would have cost us much more. We had put new furnishings in it to stage it. Our agent didn’t want to offend the buyer, so he didn’t say anything to them.

    It’s ridiculous the costly mistakes agents make that they’re not currently held accountable for.

  4. A good real estate agent is the best way to sell your home. A bad real estate agent is nothing but problems. In this case you will have to prove you were financially damaged by the actions of the real estate agent. Contact the state real estate department and file a complaint.

    State real estate departments oversee the professional licensing of all real estate agents. They tend to be consumer protection oriented. Your complaint may not accomplish much but if they agent in question get several similar complaints they will investigate.

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