Trust Our Real Estate Agent?

Reader Question: We wanted to trust our real estate agent. We accepted a purchase offer which allowed us to stay for 21 days after closing with no cost and an additional 45 days at a nominal daily rate. We were out of town during the entire transaction, and our agent sent us the electronic document and told us to sign, and that was all we needed to do. Our agent never contacted us when she returned from vacation until a week before we were to close. Unbeknown to us our additional occupancy was not included in the purchase agreement.

We had to get our lawyer involved. He worked everything out, and we were able to stay. However, because of this omission, it cost us legal fees which our real estate agent says is our responsibility because we signed the agreement.

I always thought that part of an agent’s responsibility is to work on behalf of her clients and this includes making sure the terms of the offer are documented on a purchase agreement. We have emails documenting the terms of the counter-offer with our agent acknowledging the terms. Do we have any recourse to continue to fight? Were we wrong in not having someone look over the agreement before we signed?

Monty’s Answer: Your communications with your agent leading up to the contract suggests anyone besides yourselves reviewing the contract may have missed it. Had you read the entire offer the error would have been discovered before it became a contract.

There are three obvious choices

1. Meet with the principal broker of the real estate firm and explain the situation to them. If you can obtain that meeting and the conversation is not going your way, suggest that you may contact the state department that regulates licensees. It seems like the agent dropped the ball if she acknowledged an email that included the provision and she forgot to include it. A threat is an action no one likes, but they also do not like investing time, risking adverse publicity, and realizing the regulators may rule against them.

2. Unless your lawyer has already told you your chances of prevailing in court are unlikely, consider seeking his opinion.

3. Absorb the extra costs you have incurred and write this episode off to a learning experience. Pursuing reimbursement will drain your energy, time, and financial resources if you end up in court.