DEAR BERNICE: I just listed my condominium for sale. An agent who lives in my building knocked on my door and yelled at me for not listing with her, saying she knows the building better than anyone else. She also claimed that my listing agent has so many listings that he will have no time for me now that the contract is signed.
So far, we have had only two showings in the last week. I’m beginning to wonder if the agent in my building is right.
On the other hand, she is so pushy I can’t imagine having to go through a transaction with her. She actually tried to push her way into my home even though I was standing in the doorway blocking her. I signed a six-month listing. Should I just wait and see what happens? –Paula W.
DEAR PAULA: First, the agent who lives in your building is completely out of line. In fact, not only has she violated the Realtor Code of Ethics, she could be subject to disciplinary action from her local board of Realtors as well as the potential loss of her license. The Realtor Code of Ethics prohibits agents from soliciting properties listed with another agent during the listing period. Furthermore, her behavior may meet the standard for "tortious interference."
Tortious interference occurs in a real estate transaction when a person other than the seller or the listing agent attempts to interfere with an existing contract between these two parties. According to Wikipedia, "The hardcore instance of this tort occurs when one party induces another party to breach a contract with a third party, in circumstances where the first party has no privilege to act as it does and acts with knowledge of the existence of the contract. Such conduct is termed tortious inducement of breach of contract."
Even though this woman is a neighbor, if she behaved this way with you, there’s a high probability that she has acted this way with others as well. The first step is to completely document what happened and when. Send a copy of your letter to her supervising broker outlining the events.
Depending on how strongly you feel about this, you could also file a formal complaint with her local board of Realtors as well as your state real estate commission. The challenge of course, is that unless someone else witnessed the conversation and her actions, you’re in a "she-said, he-said" situation. …CONTINUED
The second issue is what to do about the current activity on your condominium. Did you interview three different agents? Did your agent share a written marketing plan with you? Where is your listing being posted? Is it on Realtor.com, your local multiple listing service, as well as on multiple real estate portal sites such as Craigslist, Trulia and Zillow? Did your agent post multiple still pictures of the property online? Did he shoot a video? Did you stage your property before you listed it? If not, ask your agent to take these steps immediately.
If the agent is not performing, contact the agent’s supervising broker and let the broker know about your concerns. One of the key factors in evaluating the activity is your price range. Properties that are in the first-time-buyer range are generally selling quite well everywhere in the country.
On the other hand, more expensive price ranges are seeing much less activity. If you’re in the first-time-buyer price range, are you correctly priced? Did the agent show you comparable sales? Are other properties selling in your area or is the entire area quiet? These are just some of the factors that could contribute to your property not selling.
The third issue is whether you can cancel a listing if you are dissatisfied with the service that you are receiving from your current listing agent. The answer to this question is, "It depends."
Many companies have what they call a "service guarantee." The agent signs that guarantee and if the agent doesn’t deliver the services promised, you can contact the supervising broker, voice your concerns, and in many cases, have another agent assigned to the listing. In some cases, you may be able to cancel the listing without having to pay a commission.
Some firms, though, may refuse to release you from the listing contract. This means that if you want to take the property off the market, the brokerage may allow you to do so but you will not be able to list it with another brokerage until your original listing agreement expires.
Furthermore, many listing agreements contain language that entitles the brokerage to collect a commission if you take the property off the market. In actual practice that seldom happens, but there’s always that risk.
Good luck getting your condominium sold and don’t let that pushy agent push you around anymore.
Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com and find her on Twitter: @bross.
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