Q: Our real estate agent informed us that she has a buyer for our home at the full asking price. There is a stipulation that we must offer the house at the asking price to the buyer, not the other way around. Do you know anything about this practice and why it is used?
A: I think this sounds very curious. Is it possible that you have misunderstood the agent? Or, does this strange turn of events have to do with her representing both sides of the transaction?
Generally a buyer comes to a home, sees a home and decides to make an offer to buy the home. The buyer would draw up an offer to purchase or a real estate contract or some other document that conforms to the local custom. Then the seller has an opportunity to accept the offer, reject the offer or counter with an offer.
I think you might want to ask your real estate agent a couple of questions about this situation. The first question to ask is whether the buyers have a real estate agent or broker helping them out. If they don’t, your broker may want you to put the contract together for the buyer to sign. The second question to ask if the buyer does have a real estate agent is why the buyer has not made the offer. If you don’t get a clear answer, there might be something strange going on.
If you can’t get some good answers from your agent, you should place a call to the managing broker of her firm to ask why the buyers aren’t making or won’t make an offer for your home. Depending on the answer, if your broker is representing both sides of the transaction, I might ask the managing agent to reassign you to another agent in the office or get the buyers assigned to another agent in the office.
If you and the buyer have different agents, each of you can have an agent represent you in the negotiations for the sale of the home. Having two agents involved in your situation could eliminate a possible conflict of interest. If the managing broker refuses to get involved, then that would make me think something extremely strange is going on.
At that point, you might want to hire a real estate attorney (no matter what state you live in) to help make sure that your interests are being represented in this transaction.
(Real estate agents, if you have a different explanation for why this practice might be used, or can shed light on a situation in which this happened, please email me at my website, www.thinkglink.com, and I will print your responses in a future column.)
Sept. 11, 2008.