It’s almost always the real estate agent who gets the bad press when a deal goes awry. Sometimes it is absolutely warranted and other times it is the case that people just feel they have to blame someone and me and my colleagues are often the easiest target. We see it all the time at the closing table when someone jokingly (not always a joke) suggests reducing the broker’s commission when an appliance isn’t working or the floor was damaged during the exodus. Whatever the case, my colleagues and I are somehow perceived as the path of least resistance when it comes to coughing up dough to close a deal. For the record, I’m not too receptive to this tactic, particularly at the closing table.
For the past week I have been dealing with a character who is just the kind of person to dodge any accountability in a transaction and erroneously come after the broker’s commission. How do I know this? It’s exactly what he attempted to do last night. Some background…Last week, I received multiple offers for a 3BR apartment on which I am representing the sellers. This particular buyer’s agent had difficulty communicating effectively the terms of his client’s offer. After a great deal of unsuccessful communication, it appeared that we had nearly reached an agreement to sell the property at the asking price to said buyer. The only hitch appeared to be that the buyer’s were asking for the purchase to be contingent on the sale of their current apartment…NOT happening. Because of the inexperience of their agent and his inability to communicate, I and my sellers were unclear as to exactly what the buyer’s were asking. I reluctantly suggested that perhaps a clearer channel of communication would be each parties respective attorneys. My seller agreed, but this buyer balked and asked that he be allowed to speak directly to my seller. I was incredibly reluctant to allow this but that ultimately is NOT my decision so I relayed the suggestion to my seller who agreed to be contacted directly by the buyer. After providing the buyer’s agent with my seller’s contact number, the buyer’s agent responded by saying that his client thought that the seller should call him…ridiculous games in my opinion, but I again relayed the suggestion and my seller said ok. My seller then called the buyer directly at which time the buyer indicated to my seller that he made his offer only in an attempt to somehow connect directly with the seller and cut the brokers out of the transaction. He was reducing his offer by half the commission and that was his final offer. My seller said "thanks, but no thanks" and hung up. I’m unaware of this ever happening to me in the entire 15 years that I have been in the business but have heard stories like this from my colleagues. That’s not entirely true…this kind of thing happened frequently when i started in the rental business in 1992…so sleazy…hence my leap to sales.
So having shared this story, I still believe (perhaps naively) that the largest percentage of buyers come from a place of integrity. But it is buyers like this that feed the "buyers are liars" sentiment that pervades my industry.
So how do we work together in cases where some or none of the parties trust one another? Very gently and all too frequently with a very suspicious under current. This is just the type of behavior that perpetuates distrust throughout the real estate industry. And what do you know, the agent isn’t always to blame.