Q: I just closed on a house last week and my Realtor promised me to give me her 1.5 percent share of the commission as she was getting a total commission of 3 percent. The house price is $315,000.
Once I closed the house, she left and is now not answering any of my calls. I have nothing in writing about this 1.5 percent commission cash back offer.
I felt cheated and betrayed. I had the same proposal from another Realtor which was in writing on her web site. When I showed my agent that she said she would match it, but now she wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even call me back.
When I called her team leader, I was told that there must be some misunderstanding, as my agent could not give me 1.5 percent since she doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t earn that much. What can I do?
A: I think you got hoodwinked into hiring this real estate agent under false pretenses. In some circumstances, this might even be known as fraud.
Unfortunately, you did not have anything in writing. But you can open your mouth and file a few complaints.
You can file a complaint against the real estate agent and the firm which employs her with your state Attorney General’s office, as well as with the state office or commission that regulates real estate agents. If the agent is a Realtor (a member of the National Association of Realtors in addition to being licensed by the state), you should file an ethics complaint with the National Association of Realtors, based in Chicago. Don’t forget to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbbonline.org).
By the way, you should copy the “team leader,” the managing broker of the firm, and the firm’s owner on all of your correspondence.
Speaking of the “team leader,” I’m not sure you got the best answer from him or her. Here’s how a real estate commission is generally split: If the total commission is 6 percent, the seller and buyer’s agents each get 3 percent. Then, each real estate company then splits the commission further with the agent, typically with the agent receiving at least half, or 1.5 percent. Obviously, if the total commission is less than 6 percent, and the splits are the same, then the buyer’s agent would receive less than 1.5 percent.
What you may not know is that some real estate companies charge the agent for office space, telephone services, and other office necessities, but then allow the agent to negotiate whatever commission he or she wants. In this case, it could be quite possible that the agent would have received almost all of the commission that would be coming to her company, and could cut a better deal with you. If her company was to receive 3 percent, she would keep most of it with her company getting the balance.
You might want to contact the managing broker of the firm (unless this is the “team leader”) and tell him or her that his agents are making deals they cannot live up to just to sign clients. It’s not good business practice, and it could get the firm into a lot of trouble.
Without anything in writing, you probably don’t have many legal options, if any. But you might want to talk to a real estate attorney about any legal options you have
Dec. 5, 2005.