Profile picture for user2703322

Should I pay buyer's realtor commission or??? Unusual situation

I had my house listed with a realtor until Dec 31st of 2013. We are planning on listing with another realtor in the spring. My neighbors asked if we were still planning to sell and we said yes. They asked if their parents could take a look at it since they were interested in buying. We said yes and they toured the house over the weekend. We exchanged info and they said they would be in touch.

Today I received a call from their realtor (who wasn't with them during the showing) and stated she expected to be paid her commission. I said I would be hiring a real estate attorney on my end. I didn't say that I would or wouldn't pay her commission, I stated that I would have to speak with an attorney first. 

I have no contract with her or any other realtor. Am I wrong to speak with my neighbor to see if they would have an issue in dealing solely with an attorney? I understand they may want or need their hand held by the agent. There's also a chance that they wouldn't have an issue with dealing with the attorney. I feel as though I'm being pushed to pay commission to an agent that played no part in my neighbors having viewed my house. 

Appreciate any input you may have. 


  • March 04 2014 - US
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Answers (15)

Best Answer

Everything in real estate is a negotiation. 

It appears that you are not bound by any agreement to pay any Realtor (buy or sell-side) anything (that said, do look carefully at your prior listing agreement to make certain this is the case). 

So, I would start by answering the questions you do not know how to answer. 

1) Do your neighbors' parents require use of a real estate agent?  2) Have they signed an agreement with a real estate agent that requires payment? 

If they don't want to use an agent and have not signed a "Buyer Agent" contract to the contrary... Negotiate away.

If they do want to use an agent... Negotiate away, but be cognizant of the cost of the Agent to your net proceeds.

Good luck.
  • March 07 2014
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As happens 99% of the time, even when a house is a FSBO! The buyer comes with an agent (buyers in most cases are simply not comfortable without someone looking out for them, buyers generally have family/friends/etc. who know a Realtor, etc.)

In this situation, be VERY careful about your attempt to cut the Realtor off at the knees. #1 The buyer clearly wants them or they would not have contacted them. #2 If the buyer is bound to them with an exclusive contract you WILL be paying them in the end and their is not a lot anyone can do about that #3 When you take your stance against that Realtor, the Realtor may take their stance against you (That stance could include un-selling them in more ways than I could possibly explain to you without writing a book).

In the end... Its best for you to get along, play nice, play fair and not try to prevent that buyer agent from doing her job. be thankful you may only be paying a 2 or 3 % commission as opposed to a 5% commission.... This is the "smart play" for you as a seller.

Best Wishes!
  • March 08 2014
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If the parents have a buyers agreement with that agent then they are only bound legally to pay their agent. 

The parents might feel more comfortable with using an agent so I wouldn't undermine that agent with the buyers.

Have the agent fill out a 1 time showing agreement for these buyers on your home.  On the form there will be the commission paid to the broker of the agent.

It would be a normal thing to pay half of the commission that you had your house listed for.  And I would say that you could knock off 1/2% of that and the agent would be happy. 

Then when you negotiate have the extra commission expense to figure in for your net proceeds. 

Before you sign the contract make sure you let your real estate attorney look at it to protect your interests.

Good luck.
  • March 08 2014
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Profile picture for ThomasMt

The agent may have been bound to a contract agreement with the parents, I would find that out form your neighbors. Ussually these contracts will have and expiration date, I would just wait till it expires if they even have one. But nontheless i am no attorney. To be quite honest though from what i've seen in my experience is that most of these real estate agents are greedy liars that dont follow rules anyway.

  • March 08 2014
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Thank you, sunnyview. My real point is that if the buyer elects to abandon their agent when buying a FSBO, they are essentially "parting ways" with their agent, unless they have a brokerage agreement in place with that agent.
  • March 07 2014
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Profile picture for sunnyview
"However, don't ignore the fact that there may be a tomorrow, especially if the buyer decides against this property, and how the buyer handles this will affect their relationship with their agent."

You are right. Both buyer and seller have choices to make. I like to think that they can come to an amicable agreement since a good real estate transaction is about negotiation not winners and losers.

Everyone at the table should get something that they want when everything is agreed and if they can't agree then they at least agree to part ways.
  • March 07 2014
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It's been two days, and I wonder how this has gone.

You are correct, sunnyview, we do work for brokerage fees, not for tutoring. However, don't ignore the fact that there may be a tomorrow, especially if the buyer decides against this property, and how the buyer handles this will affect their relationship with their agent.
  • March 07 2014
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Profile picture for Tammy Hartman
If you contact the buyers and ask them not to use their agent, they may ask that you lower your asking price by the amount of the commission, which means you would pay it one way or the other. The buying agent would produce all the necessary paperwork, which has already been approved by attorneys, so your attorney would spend less time reviewing paperwork, charging you less in the end. Believe it or not, paying the buyers agent could save you money and headache in the long run.
And, I agree with the post that said you may owe your commission to your listing agent, you need to check your contract.
Best of luck to you
  • March 07 2014
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Profile picture for sunnyview
"I don't think it's pushy at all, sunnyview."

This seller found their own buyer. The agent who called hasn't earned a dime, so the seller can decide whether it's in their best interest to pay a commission or not. 

Sellers were upfront with the buyers about using an attorney to handle the required paperwork. They have no obligation to pay the buyer's preferred agent just because she called and wants to insert herself. 
  • March 07 2014
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If I were to make such a large purchase, I would want to consult a knowledgable agent who could advise me on the value if the property, protect me during the home inspection, walk me through the detailed paperwork and be my trusted advisor. If I were you, I would gladly pay a commission to get the sale done with no arising issues in the future. Realtors don't just show and find property. Realtors make sure there aren't any issues in the future. Best of luck to you!
  • March 05 2014
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I don't think it's pushy at all, sunnyview.

In my experience, most of the value that agents provide buyers is educational, to give them the knowledge to use the information in front of them to make a good buying decision. This is why I don't advocate buyers hiring agents "just to do the deal." So, generally speaking, I think the buyer should be considering whether their agent has earned the right to be compensated by brokering the transaction, which is the only legal way they can be compensated.

The seller, of course, doesn't - and needn't - care a whit about this. However, before negotiations begin, it may behoove them to at least accommodate the addition of a buyer brokerage fee to the transaction.
  • March 05 2014
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Profile picture for sunnyview
Offer to split the agent's commission with your neighbor 50/50. Explain that they can save 3% on the final sales price since it means that you would not also be using your agent and adding that to the listing price.

Your focus should be on the net to you after the sale. If the net with your neighbors is better paying their agent, bite your tongue and get a contract on the table ASAP. If not, do what you can to negotiate a deal that you feel better about.

PS The agent inserting themselves when they have done nothing up to this point seems a bit pushy, so be on the look out for meddling. Sometimes people interested in a FSBO are steered away from them by their agent in favor of a property with a full commission and another agent. So get an agreement together soon or thank them and make another choice before there are any hard feelings.
  • March 05 2014
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I doubt that you would owe the former listing company any commission. But then you also don't have an offer in your hand and so you can try contacting the buyers to see if they are ok without an agent, but be ready for what to say or do if they want one. Having dealt with a few FSBO buyers I can tell you they normally offer less knowing you are not paying a commission so you don't get your cake all to yourself.

  • March 05 2014
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Your attorney is working for you , you are paying the attorney. They want an agent to represent them, for their rights. Even though the agent wasn't there, the agent will be involved in knowing their part of the contract, and the contingencies involved in the purchase contract. I wonder if your attorney specializes in real estate. The broker carries error and omissions insurance to makes sure all the proper disclosures are involved in the contract. Since you are here asking, I can only assume that the lawyer is representing you rather than an agent. If I was buying your house and you wanted to use an attorney, I would make sure I used knowledgeable agent. When you sign the listing agreement and input it on the mls the amount of commission is disclosed for each side.You have no contract with the buyer's agent, you have a listing agreement .The amount you pay the buyer's agent is worth the peace of mind 
  • March 04 2014
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Depending on your listing agreement, you may owe your old listing broker a commission!

My feeling is if you allow the commission to be part of the deal, then you have a better chance of holding on to the buyer. If the buyer is faced with the possibility of losing their relationship with their agent by offering on your property without a commission, they MAY elect not to bid.

All the best,
  • March 04 2014
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