Profile picture for user366477

Unethical, Illegal, or Just Par for the Course?

We are interested in a house. Last night the selling agent called us to ask if our realtor expected commission. We went to look at the property with our Realtor today, and the homeowner took me aside to ask if I would be willing to drop my agent and go through the representing agent because "she doesn't like to split commission." I feel as if this lady was set up or encouraged to ask this of me by her agent.

This house is not listed MLS, but is through a flat fee realty company here in town that charges the same flat fee to any seller after the sale of the home.  I don't want to screw over my Realtor, but I really love this home.  Should I abandon ship?  Is this legal?  How can I make an offer and still ensure my Realtor receives commission for all of his hard work?  Is there anyway around this?
  • July 10 2012 - US
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Answers (12)

Profile picture for B Mike West
Unfortunately, you have no proof that the potential listing agent put the sellers up to it. You would have to ask an attorney if it is illegal. It probably is if you have signed a buyer/broker agreement with your agent.  Of course this is unethical.   The seller could also be acting on their own, trying to save the commission that they would end up paying to your buyer's agent.

From a buyer's prospective I would be VERY CAREFUL when dealing with people who have revealed that they have no scruples.  What kind of problems are there with this home that they are not going to tell you about?  What other things are they likely to do to take advantage of you.  This is a MAJOR RED FLAG.  There are other homes on the market.

I suggest that you tell your buyer's agent what happened. 
  • July 10 2012
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Depending on the language of your contract with your agent (assuming you signed a contract) you may be obligated to pay them their commission even if you end up not using them to purchase the home.

If the home was listed on MLS and there was an offer of commission listed, the seller and their agent are compelled to pay the commission to the buyers agent. Clearly the seller didn't discuss the merits of such a tactic with their agent.
  • July 10 2012
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None of the above. It is not unethical, illegal, or normal.

If you don't want to pursue this house, it doesn't matter, but if you do, then - If I were your agent, I'd like to hear, "The seller pulled me aside and suggested cutting you out of the deal, which I would not do. I'm prepared to pay a fair price for this home that includes your commission."

All the best,
  • July 10 2012
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Profile picture for Cindy Quinton
Quite simple, if you want the house, get together with your agent and make an offer. Your agent will handle the rest. What the seller (or the seller's agent for that matter) "wants" is not your problem. You are trying to buy a house and have retained an agent for that reason. Let him/her handle the job you chose them to do.
  • July 10 2012
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Reserving judgment, if the property is not listed in MLS, there is no "cutting your agent out of the deal"   Only cutting your agent "into" the deal.
I'm a Broker and I am often finding my agents and others walking into unlisted property with a fool's assumption that they will get paid.
Your agent should have established a fee arrangement in writing before showing the property.
I'm not supporting the behavior of the Seller or their agent here, but your agent needs to understand that they are getting paid a commission, not a tax.  Without an established fee agreement, the Seller or the Seller's Broker doesn't owe your agent anything.
Now, Michael is right.  If you signed an agreement with your agent you now want to read that carefully.  Many Buyer Agency Agreements require you to pay your agent a fee under these circumstances.
9 out of 10, if you stand firm with your agent, letting the Seller and Seller's agent know that you will not buy without your agent, the Seller will require their agent to split the fee.
But your agent made an error here.  Always know your fee before showing the property.  Always.
  • July 10 2012
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Profile picture for user366477
Our agent didn't show us the property at the start, we actually found it during an open house. We loved the home, and our Realtor went to the hone with us a few days later.

We never signed any contracts.  Our Realtor has been showing us homes in the area.  I assumed he'd get 1/2 of the commission if we bought a home in which he wasn't the representative. If we bought a home that he was representing, he'd get 100% of the commission.  Obviously, it is much more complicated than that.

Why would the seller approach us with a request to drop our realtor when if she has to pay a certain commission whether they split it or not? I thought that was weird.




  • July 10 2012
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Profile picture for sunnyview
It is weird and I would not trust the seller just so they can save either 1-2% of the commission or give it all to their listing agent so she can get more.

It sounds like your agent has been helping you as any good agent should. Ask them to deal with the seller's agent and you can consider offering to pay part of your agent's commission if it gets that far.

Agents split commissions all the time and the back door whispering bothers me, so I would be careful dealing with this listing agent directly. Who knows what other shenanigans they'll try to pull if you cut your agent out once you have no one on your side.
  • July 10 2012
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Profile picture for user366477
I can't believe it!  The selling agent JUST CALLED US for the second night in a row.

I simply told her that we were working with an agent and we were going to continue working with that agent.

She thanked me, and that was the end of the conversation.

I am not comfortable having this woman calling us on the phone.
  • July 10 2012
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Profile picture for sunnyview
Good for you! Hope all goes well with your home search.
  • July 10 2012
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We can only guess as to "why" people would do things.

All the best,
  • July 11 2012
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Profile picture for brendawells824

I read your post and I think if the Listing Agent called you and asked you if your agent expected a commission and then the seller asked if you would drop your agent, cause the seller's agent does not like to split her commission. They're in cahoots. If you have a signed Buyer's Agreement with your agent and your agent is the procurring cause of the sale. Then that seller owes her a commission split.
I do know that some companies, expecially the one's that only assist with selling a home do not like to split there commission. For one reason they charge a flat fee to do so.
If you cannot get this resolved I would either let your agent know and she could go to her Broker and/or call the seller's agent broker and let them in on the conversation.

Would love to know how it turns out.
Good Luck!

  • July 11 2012
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Profile picture for user366477
@Brenda, that's exactly my suspicion too.  I will update you.
  • July 11 2012
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