Active Rain March 2, 2009

Ethical Dilemma? Or “That’s Baseball”

I got a call from a very unexpected source today, just one day after getting my latest listing. The home just came off the market with another broker before I listed it, and while he had the listing there was a deal on it that died. The buyer agent from that deal was calling me. She wanted to know if the prior listing agent had procured any exclusion for her buyer or if she was to deal with me. I knew of no exclusion (none exists) and told her so. My seller client confirmed this. However, the buyer agent had reached out to the prior listing broker before calling me to ask the same question.

You know where this is going, right? The prior broker is livid. He had been working with this buyer agent to get the home sold and closed for months, but it never happened. The seller, tired of the headaches and feeling beleaguered by the buyer’s demands, started looking for a new agent before the listing expired. She contacted me. I would not list the house in question until she was finished with her prior broker. I did, however, list her other home, as it was never previously listed. No foul there.  I even encouraged her to stick with the other agent to get the pending deal closed. It fell apart last week.

That listing expired February 14, so we signed papers this past weekend after it was clear that the old deal was dead. It went live yesterday. So what happened? Evidently the buyer’s “plan B” purchase flopped, and, pressed for time and with appraisal, title work and mortgage completed on my client’s house, he decided to come back to it. The prior broker got wind of this, and I am told is furious with everyone, including ME.

I can empathize with his frustration. I have “primed the pump” for other brokers who got an easy sale after getting an expired listing of mine, but that’s baseball. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. The circumstances of my getting this listing are completely clean and in good faith. I never expected this buyer to resurface. For the record, I have no official offer from his agent yet.  I feel bad for the prior broker, but I do not feel that I owe him anything. He had months to get that deal closed and for whatever reason it didn’t work out. Hell, I might not get the thing closed with this buyer. But as of yesterday, I am the listing agent for that buyer or, for that matter, if Sasquatch comes along and pays cash.  

I do not feel that I have an ethical dilemma if this buyer does finally perform. If you agree or disagree, here’s your chance to opine. My stance is “that’s baseball.” What say you?