Q: Our Realtor recently showed us a house in Ohio that is being sold by sellers who are being represented by a different Realtor.
The sellers of this house in Ohio have already moved to Florida. Through our Realtor and their Realtor, we made a written offer on their Ohio house, but couldn’t come to an agreement on the price.
We’ve since learned that some friends of ours know the sellers very well and gave us the sellers’ new Florida phone number. Once the Florida sellers’ contract with their Realtor runs out, can we call the sellers and buy from them directly? The idea is that we’d leaving out both of our Realtors, thereby saving thousands of dollars in Realtor fees.
The property in Ohio has already been on the market for five months. I’m thinking there has got to be some sort of catch! Thank you for your help.
A: The “catch” is that on most seller listing agreements, the seller agrees to pay the full commission to the agent if the buyer saw the property while it was listed.
There is a period of time where this clause is valid, but it sometimes runs for three to six months after the listing agreement expires, or longer.
You can call the sellers directly to see if their situation has changed — perhaps they are now a bit more desperate and would welcome your offer at the price you are willing to pay. Or, perhaps their listing agreement does not contain this kind of post-agreement commission clause.
In terms of timing, you may have a longer wait for the end of the contract than you imagined. I think it’s unlikely that sellers who are already in another state across the country would simply end their listing agreement. Or if they did end it with their current agent, they might hire a different full-service broker. After all, who would sell the house for them?
Here’s another possible wrinkle in your plan. If you’re thinking that the sellers might be willing to further lower the price because they don’t have to pay a commission, you might be mistaken. While it sounds like the smart move, many sellers would simply see this as an opportunity to put more cash in their own pocket. Or, at least start to make up for the tremendous drain carrying two houses has had on their finances.
Of course, you won’t know what the real story is until you talk to the sellers directly. It all starts with a phone call, and if you really want this property, you should call sooner rather than later. Good luck.