Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Realtors Need a Back to Basics Refresher

I represent a lot of buyers, and a recent conversation I had with a short sale listing agent about a possible offer raised a major red flag.

My client wanted to make an offer on a short sale listing.  The attachments on the MLS listing directed me to contact the short sale negotiator, who told me they would put together the paperwork for me to send to the buyer to sign with the information I provided.  That sure would would save me a lot of work.  So far, so good!

I verbally provided the buyer's offer price and purchase terms.  The short sale negotiator then told me (in writing) the listing agent had to "review the offer and if he was 'comfortable' with it, would then submit to the seller".  Whoa nelly!  The listing agent would not even accept a written offer below a certain amount, which the listing agent set himself.

Under FL real estate law, and the Realtor Code of Ethics, it is the responsibility of the listing agent to submit ANY and ALL offers to the seller. The only exception is if the seller has, in writing, directed the listing agent to only accept certain offers based on price or other terms.  When I asked the listing agent if the seller had provided this to him in writing, he said no.

Luckily for the listing agent, we did not present a written offer.  If we had, the recourse would have been to file a complaint with the Florida Real Estate Commission, who would have investigated the presence of a written set of offer acceptance instructions from the seller.  If there were none, as was the case here, the listing agent would have had his license suspended and been subject to a punitive fine.

Home buyers, do not buy into the the line that there are no rules regarding short sales.  While it is true that every bank has paperwork or other procedural differences, basic real estate law remains in force.

See the FL Real Estate law statute:  http://bit.ly/wi2Ixr

Realtor Code of Ethics:  http://bit.ly/wkrpOs

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Real Estate Commissions

Well, Trulia strikes again!

I like Trulia because it really is a forum for real estate consumers to evaluate real estate agent competency.  But sometimes, the answers from other agents are really surprising.

A potential buyer from out of state asked on the Trulia Voices forum about "typical" real estate commissions in Sarasota.  The problem with that premise is that by law, there cannot be a "typical" or "common" real estate commission.  If there was, that could be determined as price fixing, subject to Federal Anti-Trust Law.

I offer a variable rate commission for all my clients depending in their situation, for example, if they are selling and then buying a replacement property.  Luckily, I am not restricted by an inflexible central office who does not allow their individual agents to negotiate outside a strict set of company guidelines.

You can see the thread on Trulia here (http://bit.ly/w3k4v2) as well as some of the answers from my competitors.  And thanks Rose from NJ, I always appreciate your support as well as reading your real estate expertise on Trulia!