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Can we fire our buyers agent?

We under contract to purchase a house. Our agent has made multiple mistakes that has put us in jeopardy. At first we were angry when the "seller would not comply with repairs he agreed too" but in reviewing, our agent only sent the inspectors summary which is vague and not an itemized list that we told her too. Specifically we asked to have the old faulty pacific electric panel replaced. We were very clear and we were under the assumption that it was stated, so much so that our agent was angry at the seller, advised us to just walk away and find new house since the seller was not cooperating. we said we did not want to walk away , we would rather file for specific performance action, in which the agent just balked. She would not send official requests, nor has she followed though with getting the basic roof certification that we need for appraisal. In fact with everything she has made us feel like we are asking for items that are irrelevant such as sewer, well, and water certification.Her mistakes are costing us major money and allow us no protection, her broker just backs her up "saying you need to walk away from the house". We are in a new state, staying a temporary apt, which we have 10 days left in, we have been at this since July 31, and our locked in interest rate expires 10/03/13 which is really good considering the rates have really gone up. What can we do to finish the contract but deal with someone else? We can't even trust her to take care of anything and we are running out of time. Our final closing date is 3 days,in which our lender already stated he needs 2 days to review the submitted documents once they are all submitted. So we couldn't even make that closing date as of now. We formally asked her to submit an extension yesterday which as of today she has not. We need someone that is going to work for us and not against us, how do we go about that?
  • September 20 2013 - US
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Answers (15)

An "agent" is the Broker or Brokerage and not the salesperson and any good broker will care about delivering good customer service and would swap agents in a situation where the client is not happy and requests a different sales person.

But of course, you should stilll see a lawyer and pursue any remedies available to you because agents like that need to be weeded out and should not be allowed to so flagrantly disregard your needs and wishes especially contractual. 
  • September 22 2013
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Profile picture for CallTheSisters
Another agent cannot jump into this fiasco and rescue it.  Not only are there procuring cause issues there are ethics issues.  If the buyer has a buyers agency with another agent - they cannot be helped except by the broker or attorney.  The second agent puts themselves in jeopardy of an ethics violation, fine and possible license suspension. 

There are serious inspection issues involved and it is unclear whether they have been addressed.  The most serious if the Federal Pacific Box. 

I just had a seller replace one and it was 2500 for 200 amp service.  My buyer could not get insurance until it was done.  NO insurance - no closing.

When we get these narratives from consumers they often lack salient details or gloss over things that would jump out at us if we were directly involved.

I hope the buyer worked on getting an attorney on this right away.

  • September 22 2013
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Actually, a commissioned salesperson would be highly incentivized to get this transaction closed, because that's the only way they get paid.

I hope our OP talked to an attorney yesterday, and I can't help but wonder where they had their meeting with the agent - the brokerage office would have been a good place, because the necessary forms would likely be there.

I also suspect that our OP regrets not having fired this agent sooner, maybe after the third mistake or so?
  • September 21 2013
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Profile picture for hpvanc
Salesperson working on commission, unfortunately has procuring cause under the rules in this situation. If you succeed in purchasing this property, the broker will be able to collect or sue to collect the Selling Agent commission, they will probably disburse it to "your" agent based on her contract with the brokerage.

It sounds like the broker has been backing the agent, and has been of little use either. It is hard to tell why they are balking, it could be they have information they should have shared with you. In most occupations it would be considered malpractice, however as I stated in my 1st sentence you are trying to deal with a commissioned salesperson, not a buying/purchasing representative. I hope you find an attorney that can either bring this to closure or recover the expenses you are out from "your" agent and her broker.
  • September 21 2013
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At best you can ask for a different agent to represent you, but the brokerage is the one who has the contract with you and highly unlikely the brokerage will want to release you from the contract. BUT you are free to ask them, it can not hurt and some situations the brokers are reasonable and will release you. 

A lawyer is good idea too but you can always sue afterwards for the emotional distress and damages you suffered in the process. But if you want this property, then ask for a different agent to take over an in meantime, stay in constanct contact with your escrow officer. 

Assuming this relates to CA property. 
  • September 21 2013
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At this point please take the advise to contact a Real Estate Lawyer. 

  • September 21 2013
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Profile picture for Local Pro
In my state, 90% of buyers hire a real estate attorney whose job is to make sure that both the contract and post-contract negotiations are handled in a timely and professional manner. It seems to me that you would be able to avoid the trouble if the communications between both parties were handled by an experienced and dedicated real estate attorney. There is always time to hire one...
  • September 20 2013
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Profile picture for user2291324
Thank you all for the advice. We will be trying it all, first by getting an attorney. With closing on Monday and no extension in place we are very worried. Our meeting today was unproductive, as she didn't even have an extension request for us to sign, the broker is more involved now but we are afraid it is too late. If seller doesn't sign extension we have even more problems. We still do not have the certification's in that were in contract for seller to provide, not to mention the repairs are not made as stated. We just came from property to double check and list items. I know its not suppose to go like this because we have had excellent agents in the past, and are grateful for the service you all supply in helping protect us buyers. Thanks again for the advice.
  • September 20 2013
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First of all, let me apologize for your experience.  I find it so frustrating, as many quality real estate professionals do, that the good guys are constantly fighting stories like this. 

I think the advice you have received here is spot on and I hope you file a complaint with the brokerage and/or real estate commission.  The best way to remove this type of incompetence from the market place is to report it to the governing authorities.

I wish you and your family nothing but the best!!
  • September 20 2013
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First things first.
1. Get the extension ASAP.
2. Get the Repairs you want completed Itemized and sent to the seller for response.  Generally don't sweat the small stuff, you are buying a used house.  Major items need to be addressed.

As agents we tend to get in the middle of things that we are not responsible for. Our responsibility is to help accommodate and facilitate aspects of the transaction.

I can't speak specifically about your case since I have not heard both sides, but after a buyer has their inspection,there are 2 things that happen.

Remember, all of this has to be within the Inspection Contingency Period

1. Make a formal itemized request to the seller to have whatever repairs you want completed within 5 days of closing to allow time for re-inspection.
This generally opens up negotiations, and the seller may say NO to any repairs. It all depends on the contract you use and it's wording about repairs. An AS-IS Contract does not require the seller to make any repairs. You can ask, but there is no obligation. At that point, you have the right to proceed or cancel.

In Florida we have several contracts. One is AS-IS, another is Standard, which requires the seller to make repairs up to a %age of the contract price. Typically 1.5%. If the repairs exceed the 1.5% you can cancel or proceed.

2. Cancel

It appears there was verbal discussion about repairs, but nothing in writing. Maybe it's customary for the agent to obtain roof, water, sewer certifications, but not in Florida.
You did not mention what state you are in so I'm referencing Florida. It does not appear you have much to go on. Without the repairs agreed to in writing, there is no agreement and no requirement of the seller to do anything.

Buying a house is a major life changing experience. Everything has to be in writing and signed by ALL parties. Period. All too often I see verbal agreements not fulfilled.

  • September 20 2013
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I think you've waited too long to get a good result here, user. Right now, I think that you need to consult an attorney - and I do mean, "right now," and formulate a plan to get your purchase resolved to your satisfaction.

All the best,
  • September 20 2013
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Profile picture for CallTheSisters
I hardly know where to start with a reply.  There are a myriad of problems here.  I'm sorry you are experiencing this frustration.

The Broker is legally responsible for the agents performance and anything which went wrong in the transaction.

At this late date you cannot fire the agent and hire another one.  The first agent has claim to the commission.  Another agent cannot jump in.

You need to sign the extension before your agent submits it to the seller.  If the seller will not agree to the extension that creates another host of problems.

If you did not make a written response after the inspections outlining what you wanted the seller to repair you can't do it now. There should have been a written time frame for you to respond during the contingency period.  Read your contract.  If your agent missed the deadline you might have a cause of action.

 The Federal Pacific box could prevent you from getting homeowners insurance.  In PA we cannot insure a home with a FP box.

You may also have a cause of action through the real estate board against the agent.  Not being there and not able to chronologically see your documents and follow the transaction it is difficult for us to help.

Any action you would take subsequently will involve the Broker.  It is in the best interest of the Broker to get involved and try and sort this out for you.  Good Luck
  • September 20 2013
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As Tim & Rachel correctly point out, you are represented by the brokerage. If you have problems with your agent that can't be resolved between you, you should definitely speak to her broker and possibly get another agent assigned to try to complete the transaction.

Do you have a signed buyer agreement? If not, you are free to use another agent / broker if you decide to walk away from this particular transaction (which sounds like it may be the best thing to do).

If you do have a signed buyer agreement you should read it carefully to make sure you understand your options with regard to cancelling it.
  • September 20 2013
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Profile picture for user2291324
we did speak with broker, our agent is a newer one and on 2 of the big topics they were advising her. our agent stated it was her broker that told her to send the summary in the first place. We feel they our just covering themselves by sending us an email stating " we advise you to walk away from the house and find new one". in fact when we asked about specific performance action they refused to even submit notice to preform. They only said they would go to bat for us to get our deposit back. Now what can we do?
  • September 20 2013
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You need to contact her broker, you are contracted with the office and not a specific agent in the office. Get the broker to help you. Remember any requests need your signatures so that way you see and approve of what is being sent and said for you. Your agent should know this, I am sorry she doesn't.


tim
  • September 20 2013
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