Q: My listing agent allowed the buyer to move into my house before the closing without my knowledge or consent. I found out because I went there to meet a paper shredding company and found that the buyer had given him access to the property and instructions to destroy all my files when I needed to keep half of them as a matter of law (I am a health professional).
I am very angry and shocked that my listing agent would be so careless and negligent with my property and belongings (this was not our primary residence). Is there any merit to filing complaints with the state licensing board? Could the agent lose his license over this?
A: It’s horrifying to think that your listing agent would cede control of your property to the buyer without your permission, especially since you still had documents and other personal possessions in the property.
This is the kind of bad behavior that gives agents a bad name. You should not only file a complaint with the licensing board, you should take it up with the managing broker of the firm where your listing agent works.
You may also want to have a conversation with a real estate attorney to see if there are any quantifiable damages that stemmed from the agent’s behavior and to explore any legal options that you might have.
In most states, listing agents have a duty to make sure the seller’s interests are taken care of. As a listing agent, they are supposed to represent the best interest of the seller and it would not seem that this listing agent represented your best interest by giving the keys to the home to the buyer. What if the buyer failed to close on the purchase of the home and refused to move out? Would your listing broker then pay the costs to evict the buyer?
If the contract allowed the buyer to move into the home prior to the closing, then the listing broker’s actions should be fine, but absent some legal requirement to allow the buyer to move into the home prior to the closing, the listing broker might have quite some explaining to do. Your best bet is to talk to an attorney about this issue, in addition to talking to the managing broker that supervises your listing agent.
One last item: If your listing agent used a lock box that allowed your home to be showed and the buyer’s agent was responsible for giving the keys to the buyer, that buyer’s agent might have some responsibility. Please make sure you have all of your information before you walk into the listing agent’s office to talk to the manager.
March 20, 2009