“Exclusive Right to Sell” is just that

J Philip Faranda December 14, 2008

Our MLS listing agreements have a clause in them stipulating that no matter who finds the buyer that the listing broker is protected for their commission. There is an additional part stating that all offers must go directly through the broker. For the first time in 13 years I have found someone who cannot grasp this.

Just over 3 months ago I took a listing that was in dire straights: months in arrears, a foreclosure was imminent, and they had only been there a year. Their prior broker, also their attorney, was unsuccessful in selling the place. They had a few limitations on showings which should have been a red flag: nothing before 3:30 (except Wednesdays) & 24 hour notice because of their 2 pit bulls. This is not the way to avoid foreclosure.

As we went along, it became a nightmare. The woman’s 3 live-in GROWN children were USELESS in lending a hand for showings and weekend mornings were sacrosanct because of their precious sleep. We are talking about 20-25 year old adults. 12 out of 13 showing requests were denied. The 13th couldn’t get into some rooms. Get the picture?

Strike one: The client calls me 60 days in to cancel the listing because I am not doing anything to sell the house. I refuse, and tell her I cannot sell what she will not show. We then began a multi-week suspicion-fest where somehow it is my fault this woman’s life is a shambles.

Strike two: conceding that I won’t cancel, I am informed by my dear client that while I have been banging my head for months, she has contacted someone who saw the home prior to her listing with me and that she was selling to them for $100,000 less that the price I am killing myself to push. Would I accept 1/5 of my agreed upon commission since I hadn’t done anything to sell the house? Why should I subsidize her poor judgment and bad decisions?

Strike three: I call her attorney to ask what the hell is going on. He has already sent out contracts. But, being the nice guy he is, I am named as the broker of record…would I accept a smaller commission, though? I faxed him an invoice for my full commission.

Strike four (who said this was baseball?): The listing is now expired and I am called by Oldest Son, he of the locked bedroom and weekend morning beauty sleep, asking me to take the pending listing down so they can re-list with another broker. Now, these have been nightmare clients and jettisoning them is probably smart, but how dumb do I look? How do I know this isn’t just a ruse to get out of paying my fee?

After much acrimony and back and forth, I am finally permitted to contact the buyer. It is true- he won’t be going forward. Why? “That woman was impossible to deal with.”

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