Q: My husband and I are buying our first home. We are thrilled to finally have found our dream home.
We made an offer, and received a counter-offer which we accepted. This was on paper, and was signed by us. We have already paid earnest money, appraisal and inspection costs.
We just found out that the seller is angry with her realtor, and wants to leave him for another one. Is the seller allowed to back out of our deal? We are very confused.
A: The battle between the seller and her agent isn’t your concern, and shouldn’t get in the way of closing your deal — although stranger things have been known to happen.
If the seller is smart, she’ll allow the deal should close and at the closing, she and her agent can battle it out over the commission. If you did things right you should have a valid contract for the purchase of the home.
When a seller signs a listing agreement, he or she agrees to pay the agent a prescribed commission if the home is sold. If the agent has behaved badly or has stolen something or committed fraud, then the agreement between the agent and seller may be able to be unwound.
In any case, the seller should certainly bring her complaints to the managing broker of the real estate company. One of the primary functions of the managing broker is to step in when sellers, buyers and agents aren’t getting along and smooth things over. If the seller can’t resolve the problem with the managing broker, she can take the complaint to the agency that regulates brokers in the state in which the broker is located or can sue the broker.
n your case, the house is already sold — to you — and it’s a little late in the game for the seller to decide she wants a different agent. While she may not want her agent to get the commission, the agent has marketed the house and has facilitated an offer that was accepted. Unless there are some extenuating circumstances you didn’t describe in your letter, the agent appears to have earned the commission.
You need to talk to a real estate attorney who can help resolve the situation from your end should the seller try to delay your closing or not want to sell you the home. If you are represented by an agent, you and your agent and your agent’s managing broker should sit down with the managing broker for the seller’s agent and also figure out how to get this deal to closing.
Should this deal not close, you may have legal options, including the right to sue to force the seller to close. Your real estate attorney will be able to discuss these with your further.