Why Agents Are Better than Lawyers

Craig’s written a few posts about Why Lawyers are better than Real Estate Agents. Seriously?
Are you KIDDING me???
I usually don’t post before pictures of my listings, but this seller gave me permission to do so.

People don’t know what we do. because it is PERSONAL. What we do for our clients is never known until someone who thinks this business is EASY walks a mile in our shoes. THIS is what I do BEFORE I even START! The Listing won’t even be in the MLS until Wednesday.

I clearly EARN every penny I make, and not ONE of my clients have ever disputed that. I have never had a client who thought I “made too much” when representing them either in a purchase OR a sale in 21 Freaking YEARS!

Every day (and today on my most recent post) someone says agents do NOTHING.

Well I don’t call THIS nothing. It took day after day and many hours. Because I can’t “market” a home until I have a home “to market”. This is a $250,000 house and I am only charging 2% (because it is a 2X past client).

If you hired an agent who did NOTHING…
well, come on guys, whose fault is THAT?!?



AFTER – Not finished yet,

have another full day tomorrow.

NO…this is not a vacant home…This is what it looks like today before it is finished.




Even staging the Linen Closet, the kitchen cabinets, the patio set out on the deck…you name it. Closets…anything a buyer will open and look inside.

And then some PISSANT will come along with a “Bad MLS Photo” post and complain that the light fixture is reflecting in the sliding glass door.

Don’t get me wrong…the seller is working his fingers to the bone too! This kind of transformation does not take ONLY one person. But I even personally, hand made the wall hanging in the dining room. I didn’t have anything “in stock” that was quite right and I wanted the largest 42″ X 42″ piece. I had this one:


But I wanted a “mid-century modern” feel, so I went to the cloth store and covered it with this:


And then I made a “Companion Piece” in cloth of the same colors and different design, and found the “starburst” mirror for over the fireplace that matched the circles in the cloth in the larger cloth covered.


If you are an agent who runs in with your cell phone and takes a quick picture of the open toilet and toilet paper…THIS is what we DO or “cause to happen” and WHY we make “the big bucks”.

And oh…


I didn’t see any LAWYERS in Joann Fabrics on 4th of July Weekend.

If you are one of my other clients over the last week or two who thought I looked a little tired…this is why. πŸ™‚ A VERY rewarding business…and there is NO END to what “we” DO!

We do whatever it takes to have a successful client.

346 thoughts on “Why Agents Are Better than Lawyers

  1. Excuse me, we pissants have standards. A mere light reflection in the glass door does not rise to the level of a “real actual listing photo.”

    Also, just to stir the pot a bit… I have to say that I don’t “get” what exactly this post is attempting to prove. Doesn’t a stager do the things described in this post, for a simple flat fee that usually amounts to much less than 3% of the sale price?

    • Yes, a stager, and it was Barb Schwartz who made staging popular, charges by the job. It can run $1200 in, and $200 per month, or something like that.

      Most good agents have a set of resources they recommend that are usually compiled by the Brokerage.

      A good agent, as you have pointed out in your own purchase of listing photos, know how to make a property attractive.

      3% is dirt cheap for a good agent.

      • I’ve seen many a staging proposal, and the monthly is normally WELL over $200, and the rental time is an unknown, and so the cost is unknown.

        Before Barb Schwartz invented the word staging…she staged the homes as a listing agent. Barb was a Listing Agent for many years, I’m pretty sure in this area, and even wrote a book on what a Listing Agent DOES which included “staging” an owner’s home. Barb herself taught the class I took some years back on AGENT staging a home. It was awesome. πŸ™‚

        AND what Barb teaches agents to do is simply MOVE AROUND what an owner has, with NO cost to the owner. THAT is “staging”. NOT this many hundreds and even thousands of dollars being charged for “staging”.

        In Barb’s class we bring NOTHING IN with us, and we stage the home with what is already IN the home. That is mostly how a I stage…the way it is taught to Listing Agents by Barb. I do add somethings, but usually they are things I can carry in and out myself with little assistance. I don’t lug sofas around…but I have a storage unit full of chairs and a few tables and many art pieces and towels and flowers and dishes and place mats.

        One thing I “learned” recently from agents (and is how and why I did this home without “table settings” is that agents prefer the table have one item they can lift off the table, in case they want to write the offer in the home. Having dishes and silverware in the way, is not appreciated by agent trying to write an offer.

        What Barb teaches is if you DO use table settings, do not use sharp knives or forks in the place settings. Apparently that can be dangerous. Maybe someone get mad at their agent and poked her with a fork once. LOL!

    • Tim,

      What crawled up inside you? Why would you feel the need to stir the pot? So finally an agent works her ass off and you piss on her? WTF.

      A great agent is worth their fee, and more. Further agents do a ton of things that don’t fit into their job description. For example giving the client information that is not generally known to the public.

      There was a comp in my neighborhood that skewed the comps waaaaaaaaay down. Everyone was in a tizzy on why this awesome house sold for so low $/psf. Well, mister, only a true professional would know that the house was OVER 2500 SF LESS than the tax records indicated.

      Other things come to mind like:
      zoning changes
      upcoming assessments (things that are just being chatted about; still not formalized)
      sexual offenders in the complex/neighborhoods

      Our job comes down to information. I recently closed a $7.35M deal on a listing that NO OTHER agent would take because “comps said” that they would only get $6.8M. I bet you’d love for me to have been your agent, Mr. Seller.

      Actually, to be quite frank, I’ve lost more deals because lawyers didn’t know condo law here in FLA. Ch. 475. Yup! I had to TRY to save their butt….everytime.

      …since you stirred the pot….. ; )

      • Hello Kevin!

        My wife and I went to Miami last month? the month before? and for sure there are places, condos, worth more than asking price, in my opinion. Other properties, maybe not so much, but you have some beautiful condo projects in Miami.

          • Audrey Ross? We were on vacation.

            It was my first time in Florida. Florida is never on the way to anywhere. There’s no passing through Florida on your way to some place.

            To me it’s the best of the best, but was told it’s hard to make a buck there.

            I believe it that the high end is sold out. Those are fantastic projects.

          • I loved living in Florida. I lived near Disney World. The kids loved it. πŸ™‚ Selling Real Estate is the same there…no harder to make a buck if you stay out of the lowest priced areas. Plus the cost of living is cheaper so it’s OK. Working with your feet in the pool in your lanai & screened in pool room is like HEAVEN on Earth!.

      • Oh Kev your a Joke!

        You posted in the past how Agents do NOT realize how their limited role is in Real Estate. How their self denial and selfworth is greatly inflated. AND I AGREE!

        BTW………..Self Promote here on RCG? In 5 years never a lead from this site. My avatar suggests I’m milking this site? Have you looked at yours? Have you looked at YOUR WEBSITE lately? Did you notice how your face is on every page?

        Your a handsome guy and obviously attractive to either sex correct? is this your marketing? Is this what your selling? Is your SELF WORTH greatly inflated as well? Hmmmm…I know I know you have heard this before..

        • I just think that you were diminishing someone else’s business while playing “holier than thou” in your comment. I liken it to walking into ARDELL’s home on Thanksgiving and taking a big, steaming dump in the middle of her living room while you flip her the bird.

          Listen, I look how I look. I came out of my mom this way. You have some blonde on ur site. Actually on my *new* state of the art, content rich website, which is being unveiled in about one month–my picture will be gone. Poof. Now take ur blonde off, too.

          Please. Good-looking, maybe. Smart, definitely.

          • We have a blond on our website? Hmmm….I think your too focused on your own pictures to cultivate a clear thought…

            But, every page Kev…Truly nobody can be that self absorbed? Or can they? …

            I’m not an Ardell cheerleader like you appear to be. She is a FB friend but we have completely different ideas on how Real Estate should be practiced. She has come along way since I have met her 5+ years ago and I would respectfully “take a dump on her bird” if I see fit and she would do the same at my Thanksgiving Day dinner.

  2. Agents always did this kind of thing, Tim. The woman who “invented” the business of Staging, not too long ago, was a Listing Agent on Mercer Island. She did this for her listings for many years. She also trains agents on how to stage homes.

    Stagers do not price by home price, so on a $250,000 Listing, the staging is a “design fee” for talking, plus a large fee for staging and then a monthly rental fee for every little thing they bring from a table to a soap dispenser in the bathroom. And many have a 3 month minimum rental fee that you have to pay even if your house sells earlier. Stagers are NOT “cheap”.

    Some agents pay for the stagers. I like to stage them myself because I really KNOW my listings (and the sellers) by the time I’m done. I’ve been in every nook and cranny. A lot of agents do it for that reason. They can answer most any question about the home…and often know more than the owner by the time they are done.

    It also gives you lots of time with the sellers while they talk about things about the home that they don’t think of in a short Listing Appointment, or isn’t asked in the “forms”. So it helps you serve the Seller’s well to spend time with them in their home before the home goes on market. That can be very handy during the listing and at time of offer. Fewer “after sale” problems when the Listing Agent really knows the home.

    In “The Bubble” with tons of equity, stagers were being hired left and right. But when you get back to REAL real estate, sellers often don’t have enough equity to throw money around at 10 different vendors in addition to the cost of selling a home. The part sellers really have a problem with with stagers is the monthly rental fees, as they don’t know how long their home will be on market. It’s not an up front “defined” amount until the house sells price. It increases every month. That really killed some of the small spec builders. Those stager bills can get astronomical.

    Not everyone can afford a stager, as you probably know from looking at homes to buy. Also stagers tend to “decorate” and sometimes even “conceal defects”. Some people even think staging IS to conceal defects. Sad really.

    The point is that there are many, many things that an Agent does that a Lawyer does not do. This is just one example. Why is it that when people don’t know what we do…they call it “nothing” just because they either never sold a house or because they hired the wrong agent?

    You never sold a house…and here you are second guessing what we “do”. Why is that? Why do people like to believe that agents don’t do enough? I have never had a client say that to me…never. Yet it seems like the popular snarky thing to do these days…pick on hard working people who bust their ass and put their heart and soul into helping people day after day.

    Snarking at people is not good.

  3. There was an awesome post of a woman staging her home with her agents over on HOUZZ the other day. Lots of great tips.

    In the comments she says:

    “Yes, good point about asking your realtor for help. My realtors, James Shinbori and Eva Stoyanov (Paragon Real Estate Group), not only had a lot of helpful insight into what buyers in our market look for, but they also rolled up their sleeves and helped me carry and put together furniture! If your realtor is good, they will do that for you.”

    The idea that homes don’t get staged unless the owner hires a stager is a misnomer.

  4. I agree. If you do you’re job perfectly, then it may look as if you are overpaid. However, there are many REALTORS in the industry who do not discount at all and still have plenty of business. In real estate, I’m less concerned about effort and more concerned about results. In this case, your effort was required to get the result and you did a great job! Let’s just hope she’s priced right and a quick sale is near.

    • I should be ready to go by tomorrow. Sign goes up tomorrow and I’m doing the flyers right now.

      I almost always do Open Houses the first two Sundays so I can see first-hand how buyers are “receiving” the property. Once in a while their comments alert me to something that I can tweak.

      Will let you know how it goes and thanks for stopping by with a comment!

  5. Ardell, the reason the public questions the value of Realtors is because there are so many bad ones. For every Realtor such as yourself, there are probably dozens of others who give the profession a bad name. The public is much more likely to come across a bad Realtor than a good one.

    • There are a lot of bad Real Estate agents. Brokerages, in my opinion, do little to improve that. It’s easier to throw agents into a bull pen, and let things sort themselves out. Some Brokerages are highly selective according to how much business a person can bring through the door. It’s suggested that some people with strong neighborhood, or church connections are good for two, or three years of “sales” before that pipeline dries up.

      As Ray has pointed out, lead generation is a big part of the real Estate business, takes a lot of time, and is constant. brokerages are always attempting to attract good closers by promises of lead generation.

      The system we have right now is broken. Companies like redfin, and WA Law are attempting to offer alternatives. In my opinion nothing on the table today is a great benefit to the clients. It is all “sales” rather than representation.

      • David,

        I herald Redfin and WA Law for trying, as I did many, many companies before them who tried to encourage change.

        The bottom line tends to be that for MOST people…traditional agents doing their job WELL is still the best solution. The failure of today’s system is that most agents think what they DO is what Craig and Redfin thinks they do. That is the fault of the system…in fact that problem was created by technology.

        Agents used to LEARN what they “do” by watching the other agents do. Now, with technology, we are not all sitting in the same room. Most agents work from home.

        Brokers NEVER taught agents what we “do”. Never. Even Brokers do not know what agents “do” out in the streets. How can we expect the public to know what the Brokers don’t even take the time or care to know.

        Brokers don’t even LOOK at THEIR OWN listings online and help the agent make a better presentation to market the property. They just hope enough of them sell. I always work to SELL a property…not just to “list” a property. Not all do that. They put up 10 and hope 5 sell. If I put up one…I’m fairly sure it will sell. When a seller hires me to help them sell their home…I don’t just “list it”.

    • Russ,

      Sometimes I think people like to believe that more than it is true. People’s “perception” of what we “do” is not necessarily accurate. Most times we do not speak of what we “do” for people because it is confidential.

      When I spend many hours of counsel with a buyer or seller client…the only one who knows it is the client. How would people “know” what we do? They really don’t. Only our clients know for sure, and even then we do many things they don’t even know or see.

      That is one of the reasons why we get paid for result.

    • And the reason there are so many bad ones is because almost anyone can become a realtor – barriers to entry are lower compared to Medicine, Engineering, Law etc….

      • No…that is not the why Sid, as every “good” agent in the 100 year history of real estate had the same entry barriers or lack thereof.

        Increasing the entry criteria will not make better agents…in fact you will likely get a whole lot more who don’t want to roll up their sleeves or get their hands dirty.

        I once saw a new agent, young man, who refused to go in a basement because there were “cobwebs”. This is not a business for men in 3 piece suits and a nice tie and polished shoes. We sometimes have to trek through a lot of mud and crap both inside and outside of the homes. πŸ™‚ Some agents need to wear hip boots…but those are mostly the “horse property” agents.

        • Just remembered the time I had to crawl through the crawl space in the middle of a closing to check on a repair. That was one of the last times I wore “a dress and heels to work”. LOL. In a dress, with the home inspector behind me…both on our bellies…that was interesting.

          The inspector had called for a repair to the main header beam support of the house due to termite damage. The repair bill came in at $35. We had to go in and see what the heck they did for $35. Clearly…not enough.

          The termites had entered from one end of the beam and exited at the other end. The “fix” was a 2″ piece of plywood nailed over the hole at each end, without regard to what the termites ate from the inside going from one hole to the other.

          “GOOD” agents are not about the education any more than a “GOOD” surgeon is ONLY about the education.

          • It’s more likely a “best” agent came from a field prior that supports expertise in some aspect of buying and selling homes. Not their education level. Though having more than half a brain does help. Sometimes I think a minimum IQ level would be of more value that a higher degree of education.

  6. Agents and Attorneys? Both equally worthless on a macro level. Far too many of each but at least Agents are not saddled with student loan debts that will last a lifetime.

    In place of either just give me a good lap top, a good connection, patience, and the world of real estate is VERY EASY.

    Want difficulty? Try teaching in Public Schools or working on Vent/Dialysis Units or anywhere at Childrens Hospital.

    • Ray,

      My lovely eldest daughter works in the Health Care profession in a Urologist’s office. She works equally as hard as I do, and I think she is a SAINT for all she does for people…with a big smile to make them comfortable as they get through the indignities of the procedures. Most are very old people, and she is a blessing to them!

      She does not feel she works “harder” than I or vice versa. In addition to what we “do”, we both provide a shoulder to lean on. Real Estate, done well, is not limited to the “acts of doing”. But I’m sure you know that.

      • I couldn’t disagree more. Being an LPN 1st then an RN for well over a decade now and working at Madigan, Swedish, Group Health, Valley, Auburn, and so many others over the years through agency I POUND the table when I say real estate is a sheer cake-walk when compared to the mental and physical anguish of nursing and the stresses that accompany the profession.

        It is for this reason 500 Realty started along with MLS 4 Owners and so many others. We all know this 6% is a SHAM and paying someone to LIST your home 1-3% or represent a Buyer and get 5-20k for assistance is ridiculous.

        I praise Wa Law, Red Fin, Shop Prop, Findwell, MLS 4 Owners, Congress Realty, and so many others that are striving for change in a profession that will eventually come to an end along with the MLS system as we know it. Its happening all around us now with the Banks paying less and less to Agents thereby driving more and more out of the business. Owners are becoming more and more saavy/cost conscious and this is TOXIC to the NAR.

        Lastly, Yes Ardell many agents are EXCELLENT. But, NONE are worth 6%.

        • I know you do Ray, but you are incorrect. There are many people with the passion for real estate that match and excel many people in your field. The mental and physical anguish in real estate is not in the public view.

          You don’t recognize it…that does not mean it isn’t there.

          Think of EVERY possible reason a person may be selling their home…including dying of a terminal illness, having aids, divorce, suicide of family member, on and on and on. WE who both LIST property AND represent buyers see and deal with and help with anguish all the time.

          Not everyone is some savvy, sharp, trying to make a buck seller. FEW ARE!!!! Most are in desperate need of help and empathy for their turmoil that is causing them to sell.

          That you have not yet experienced that, does not make it not there.

          As to “worth 6%”…please stop spouting UNTRUE THINGS!!!!!!! The 6% is NOT 6%!!!!! Usually a full HALF of that is offered for the Buyer’s Representation fee. That MYTH MUST be abolished, and it’s SHAMEFUL for you and other “discounters” to speak this untruth over and over and over again. Because YOU KNOW BETTER! You KNOW that 6% is HALF for the seller’s work and HALF for the Buyer’s work.

          And yet you, and others like you, purposely choose to mislead the public about that, even though you know FOR FACT that it is NOT true. You are many things, Ray, but a LIAR isn’t one of them. Stop doing that!

          • So, if someone is selling a $40,000 Mobile Home in Bothell…they are not “worth 3%”. Seriously Ray…let’s get to the point of TRUTH here. How about a condo at $119,000 that buyers CAN NOT access without an agent because of security codes to enter the complex.

            AGENTS ARE NEEDED…maybe not always…but in MOST cases the system works, and agents “discount” where it is too much ALL THE TIME!!! We just don’t advertise a “schedule” of fees because we would get caught in untruths like you and Redfin and Craig do.

            The advertisements that you “save $10,000” or ANY specific dollar amount are FALSE advertising, because there is NO posting of what a Listing Agent is charging…anywhere! Not even IN the mls! Using erroneous assumptions to advertise a dollar amount of how much a consumer is or is not saving is FALSE ADVERTISING.

            There IS a price at which 3% is NOT ENOUGH and where 3% is too much. That is why there is NO “set fee” of 3%! Merely saying 3% is too much is just not true, as it is different for every client, and that’s why we vary our fees from one client to the next.


            NO “one size fits all” fee for all…none. Any suggestion that all people need the same thing for the same price is just wrong. THAT is why we don’t advertise our fees, and company’s using the fact that we are silent on the matter to spout untruths and false advertising perpetuating “myths” are SHAMEFUL!

            Example: Two bucks is too much to pay a Doctor for an Appendectomy if the person has a broken leg.

          • hmmmmmmmmmmm. Well, we never post our savings to the consumer or compare our rates….Thats always sketchy…..But, its simply put with us:

            200 or 500 to list

            3900 office minimum for Buyers unlike the 6000 at Red Fin….

            Thats it..Its all there.. However, when you offer the BEST in pricing for Buyer/Seller we also get to choose who WE engage with.

            Unfortunately we send nearly 80% of our clients elsewhere because we are at The Trustee Sales every Friday and engaging with just too many investor clients. However, I will agree low price point homes do deserve a basic minimum from banks/sellers and that has already been set by many of the Big Banks at 2500 minimum.

            We are here to educate and not save the world from wasting money. Just a few here and there.

          • ARDELL,
            You should leave Ray alone. He’s clearly here to promote his discount brokerage.

            His avatar says it all.

            We charge less because we DO LESS.

            That’s how you need to “man up” w/ your business proposition.

        • Ray,

          I’m totally surprised that Ardell isn’t agreeing with you regarding agent commissions based on comments she’s making on other recent posts… afterall, she’d have her clients select a mortgage originator over an 0.125% in rate ($22 bucks a month on a $300k loan) but look the over way over 6% of the sales price.

          Let’s assume we’re talking about 100% financing, 6% on $300k is $18,000 and even Ardell has argued that the buyer winds up paying for the RE commisssion since it is built into the sales price.

          • Rhonda,

            The cost of your service is not the interest rate anymore than the price of a house is the cost of my service.

            Rate = PRODUCT; House = PRODUCT

            People “shop for” houses. People “shop for” rates.

            You are confusing the cost of your or my service with the “product selection”. If you can’t get the product they want they can’t use you anymore than they could use me if I couldn’t get the house that they want.

            People are not going to love their service provider so much that they will take an inferior PRODUCT as a result.

            I have never said a buyer pays 6%. I say the buyer should be treated as if they are paying their half, in the price, for DIGNITY sake. Not treated like a freeloader. Many agents think the buyer should shut up and do what they say because the service to them is FREE. THAT is what I argue against. Not any “amount”. The concept that they are paying their FAIR SHARE. Not all of it. Never ever said that, Rhonda.

            A case could be made that the Seller is paying all of it, for sure. But never can one make a case that the buyer is paying all of it. I have never argued that point.

    • You got that right, Ray! I taught one year in NYC (Murray Bergtrom HS – forgive my spelling) and three years at Gage Park HS in Chicago’s near SW side. It was hands down the toughest job I ever had.

  7. I remember the day when RCG frowned on rank self-promotion… I guess the rules have changed! πŸ˜‰

    While my prior posts were hardly models of good blogging, at least the posts related to the title. Specifically, and as I explained, the system in which agents operate undermines the very services they claim to provide, at least to the extent of “representing” the client. In this context, lawyers really are better than agents, in my opinion.

    Your post stands in stark contrast. Your title implicates ALL agents and ALL lawyers — i.e. the whole system. But your post focuses on one, single agent and the hard work she has done in one narrow aspect of providing broker services (staging a home). Talk about disconnect between title and post! Moreover, since you simply cannot provide the broker services that the entire Puget Sound area requires, maybe you want to expand your discussion beyond yourself.

    Finally Ardell I must note: Lately you’ve taken to calling people “whiners” and “pissants.” Take a deep breath and a step back: Aren’t you crossing the line into personal attacks? As you’ve lectured others, that’s just not appropriate.

    • Craig,

      The post title was yours. I just reversed the roles. I didn’t “make it up”, you did.

      You have written many posts about why lawyers are better than agents. ONE in return was “due”.

      My point is you don’t know what we “do” or what we charge to do it…and yet you write posts to the public saying you are better than agents (based on the not knowing what we do) and that you charge much less than we do (without knowing what we charge)

      On this house my charge MAY be $5,000, not more than, and it depends on the sold price and inspection negotiations AND it includes changing the house in the manner noted in the post. I even bought that table and had it delivered to the house. My out of pocket to get the home ready, not including labor, brings the charge below your charge.

      Add the added value to the home, and deduct the cost of a stager, and cost of renting stagers “stuff”, and it’s clearly a bargain better than your bargain.

      You are constantly advertising your bargain. Tell me how your bargain is better than this real life scenario, Craig? I will still do ALL that you do after the home is ready for market in addition to what I have already done.

      The point is it will likely turn out LESS than what you charge, not be more than $5 MORE than what you charge, and clearly you do not do MORE than I do for that money.

      Is that a point to be made…well…you have written MANY posts over the years saying you are better than agents. After all those posts, I think you even had a SERIES of posts on the topic once, don’t you think ONE “turnabout is fair play”?

      • Let me try and summarize our respective positions, which at least on my end I have been asserting consistently for the last five years.

        Craig: The system in which real estate agents operate undermines the very services they claim to provide. Specifically, they claim to represent their client and to be concerned only with the client’s best interests. But meanwhile they are paid to sell, period. A lawyer, in contrast, operates within a system that specifically and unequivocally puts the client’s interests first. Admittedly, any ONE agent (say, for example, YOU) may be better than any one lawyer — heck, better than ALL lawyers ;-). But not every consumer can hire you, Ardell, and not every consumer can hire somebody who has a personal, trustworthy relationship with the client that transcends the professional relationship. In this context — comparing the agent SYSTEM to the lawyer SYSTEM —
        lawyers are better than agents. (My four part, self-promoting piece addressed other issues as well, but this is the heart of my argument.)

        Ardell: Look how hard I work for my clients! And I only charge what is “fair” that I determine on a case-by-case basis, so EVERY client pays EXACTLY the right amount for the service I provide! I don’t know of ANY lawyers who work this hard. Therefore, agents are better than lawyers.

        Ardell, in other posts you’ve conceded some of the flaws in the current system. If you want to argue that, notwithstanding those flaws, the agent SYSTEM does a better job of meeting the expectations and needs of consumers than the lawyer SYSTEM, fine. That’s a legitimate point of contention. But to shout at the top of your lungs about what a great job YOU do for your clients, and to extrapolate from that that agents are better than lawyers, is flat-out childish and absurd.

  8. In the end, sales are what it is all about. There are some who are naturally going to gravitate to WALaw’s model because they would probably work that way with a discount agent no matter what. During the early-bubble years, there were too many non-professionals who joined our industry with stars in their eyes. They dreamed of huge paychecks and didn’t give a rip about what people thought of them (or the industry). Those people are long gone but it is the weary professional who is expected to ‘pick up the check’ for those clowns. That’s not cool.

    Ardell, I agree with you that real pros earn every penny. Being in business is NOT cheap. Nobody is making a fortune and taking advantage of owners. Attempts to disparage these dedicated professionals is self-serving and, frankly speaking, either ignorant or repugnant. There is room for both ends of the spectrum. Savvy hands-on types will benefit from a discounter but many more people just don’t know (and don’t want to bother with trying to do) all the things required to successfully sell their home in a buyer’s market.

  9. I’ve never been able to reach a real estate attorney during the weekend when most real estate deals take place. For that matter rarely after 6pm on a weekday.

    I’ve had many clients over the years complain about attorney fees but never about my fee. Broker fees are a percentage of the sale price. It is a finite amount. What you are told upfront by a broker is what you pay. A lawyer might quote a client $1800 to handle a transaction that some how turns into $10,000+

    • I’m sure they were, Rhonda. The point of the post is what others SEE agents do…is not what “they do”.

      Many new business models are based off of that “limited” perception, and then say that IS what “traditional” agents do. We do much more than what the public “sees us do”.

      If Craig did not write so many posts about how Lawyers are BETTER than agents…I would not have worded it this way. But he does…and often…and advertises that he does better for less. That is not always the case. Sometimes maybe yes. But blanket statements that “Lawyers are Better than Agents” required a response…this is my response to his claim.

      • Also, in negotiations sometimes NOT responding is better for the client. So “being responsive” is NOT the benchmark of “good agent” or “good negotiator”.

        I see “lazy agent” posts sometimes and laugh as the client was better served in a scenario and yet “perceived” as lazy. Perception is NOT reality in this business.

    • “and they were just as responsive as any professional real estate agent I’ve worked with.”

      thats not saying much. I talk with many agents every day and most never pick up the phone. Half I get a call back at the end of the day when they finish working their other job. Some just never pick up at all and can only be reached via email…

      I will say it again…Pay as little as you can to LIST sellers and put the money in the hands of your potential Buyers..They need it NOW more then EVER!

      • πŸ™‚ on a side note… I wish RCG’s comments worked to where I could click on the link in the sidebar and go to the specific comment OR that we didn’t have comment in comment… I’m trying to catch up with you Kevin!

  10. Rhonda, In NY both seller and buyer must have an attorney on a real estate transaction. A buyer or seller is not required to have a real estate broker. Only an attorney can write contracts in NY.

    I have never been able to get a lawyer on the phone during a weekend in the 10 years I have been a real estate broker. It is my experience since every transaction that I’ve brokered had at least two lawyers involved.

    • Mitchell, I’ve only originated mortgages in Washington… never in New York. πŸ™‚ I always think of RCG as a Seattle area blog although I know Ardell seems to like bringing up how things are/were in other parts of the country.

      • Rhonda…when it is a NATIONAL Law or a NATIONAL issue…common LOCAL practice be damned! Many abuses of consumers have been hidden in “that’s not the way we do it here” in my industry. Real Estate as it impacts consumer rights…is NOT as “local” as people like to believe or pretend.

          • Rhonda,

            As I said to Mitchell, when advocating for buyer rights, there is no distinction State to State of what a buyer SHOULD have or what the industry should provide in that regard. Yes, some local areas handle that better than others. That is WHY we should not treat it as a “local” issue, so that the “corrections” to insufficient Buyer Agency can be applied more broadly, with no local area being able to circumvent those rights.

            WA has one of the most progressive Agency Laws in the Country with regard to Buyer Agency. But if we do not cross state lines to talk about the issue generally, those States with inadequate laws will never be encouraged to get better.

            NYC has one of the worst Buyer Agency common practices in the Country. Many buyers are not represented in NYC. They really don’t want Buyer Representation AT ALL, which is why Mitchell noted that he was told not to use a Buyer Agency Agreement. In WA our law is Buyer Representation as the “default” position, which is why buyers do not need to sign Buyer Agency Agreements here in order to get representation.

            I would not post RE stats for Kansas here in RCG. BUT when it comes to big issues, staying too local is like putting your head in the sand. One needs to look at the Big Picture…even on a “local blog”.

    • Mitchell,

      Are you sure that’s a “law” in the state of NY and not merely “common practice”? I’m pretty sure that parts of New York do not operate that way. I have not worked in NY, but have worked with clients on the back end as in buying with me and selling in NY. The problem with lawyers it is a HUGE problem if you have a one day delay in closing. That one day can sometimes turn into TWO WEEKS if the lawyer’s schedules all need to be adjusted in a string of closings that involve some NY participants.

      Agents can say…no biggee…we’ll just close tomorrow. In my experience that is not as common the impact when there are lawyers who are due in court tomorrow and have to take a one day snafu and turn it into a week delay.

  11. It is probably not an actual state law. In upstate NY real estate brokers can write offers/contracts with boiler plate contracts that have been approved by the NY State Bar Association and NY State Association of REALTORS.

    In downstate NY, NYC and the the suburbs it is probably “common practice” and is encouraged by the brokerage community. We rarely sell land or single family homes. I have never seen it written any place that states it is the “law” but New York is described as a “title” state rather than an “escrow” state.

    Escrow states are called escrow states because their laws permit brokers and escrow-title companies to prepare legal contracts, title documents, hold moneys, and close real estate deals. New York is called a β€œtitle state

    • Mitchell,

      Actually “escrow state” is not about agents vs lawyers writing contracts. Many, in fact most non escrow states have agents who write contracts. I have worked in NJ, PA, FL, CA and WA and areas around NYC are one of the few areas where agents don’t write the contracts. Jersey splits in half with North Jersey acting more like NYC and South Jersey more like PA.

      Agents have always written contracts in PA, and most of the East Coast, even though they are not “escrow states”. I don’t know what happens in Maine. πŸ™‚

      In Cherry Hill NJ we used to have a one page “Proposal to Purchase” that we submitted to sellers with the basic details, then we moved to contract once the buyer and seller agreed. But when we went to that phase, the agent would proceed to writing the contract vs giving it to a lawyer to do that.

      This post is about lawyers who are starting Real Estate Brokerages and competing with Real Estate Brokerages. Kind of like the “Banks doing Real Estate” issue.

  12. Rhonda, I guess RCG is a Seattle area blog but Ardell is a national figure. I’m interested in hearing about practices in other states. NYC particularly Manhattan is unique in the real estate universe. Some days I think we’re totally archaic and some days I think our way is the best way.

    Ardell makes a good point about local practices and she may very well be correct “it’s Not as Local as people believe “that’s not the way we do it here” I have been told that about many things. I remember several years ago I had a buyer that wanted to sign a BBA. I was told we don’t do that here. Why not? What law says I can’t?

    BTW: there are some really great real estate attorneys. There are also good corporate attorneys and divorce attorneys but they should not be hired for a real estate transaction even if they’re a relative.

    • Mitchell,

      One of my biggest “irks” is the “common practice” of SELLER doing the Termite Inspection vs the Buyer ordering that in CA. And they have LOTS of termites there. πŸ™‚

      When it comes to the rights of home buyers…yes local practice and even laws are different, but the rights a buyer SHOULD have do not vary from State to State.

  13. I just noticed in the 2nd picture from the bottom that my little shell mirror on the 2nd shelf is missing…wonder where it went? Maybe it fell down. Oh well. I’ll check tomorrow and retake the photo if needed. Not for the post πŸ™‚ just for the mls and flyers.

  14. You know… I’m tempted to write a post “Are Agents Better Than Anybody?” …they’re not… they are human and filled with good and bad… I was just looking at some photos that Stephanie Baldwin posted on Facebook:

    I have no idea who’s listing it is… I don’t care… I can tell you it’s nowhere near a 3rd bedroom…

    My point is, nobody is better than nobody. Consumers need to research. Ardell, you speak of what you do behind the scenes… I’ve learned in my 26 years in this biz to not assume what someone else is doing.

    • Rhonda…you do a lot of good things for your industry as a whole locally. You volunteer, you help organize you speak to and for that industry.

      Why would you not want others to do the same for their industry. You note what is right and wrong, you wail about Banks vs LOs.

      This is no different.

      There was an issue not too long ago about Banks taking over the Real Estate Industry. Should no one speak of the differences if that happened? Clearly if it was your industry…you would.

      Craig has written a TON of posts on how lawyers are better than agents. NO ONE SAID A FREAKING WORD!!!!

      Who Wrote “Lawyers are Better than Agents”???” Craig did. Now I reverse it…and WTF? He can say it but I can’t? What’s up with THAT?

      • And you accused me, in my prior post, of whining? Wow.

        Reverse it all you want, but it would be nice if your post matched the title. A more appropriate title for THIS post would be, “Ardell Is The Best Agent Ever — Better than ANY Lawyer.” And you know what? I wouldn’t even dispute the point.

        One other comment: I wrote that two years ago and was placed in the RCG Penalty Box (my unmonitored posting privileges were revoked by Dustin) for my rank self-promotion. And at least I was promoting my ENTIRE INDUSTRY over another ENTIRE INDUSTRY — I wasn’t just shouting about myself.

  15. Whoa. There are seeds of hurt feelings lurking in many of these posts. That should stop.

    I’ve been reading RCG for the last 5 years. While people who feel slighted take aim at this post, I want to point out something I have begun to notice in the last year or so that makes reading on this site very upsetting:

    Ardell gets picked on considerably more than anyone else who writes a post. You’d think all of her predictions/comments/articles were fodder for a cable news TV the way every comment/post gets dissected. In fact, I have to wonder if there isn’t a secret reward being offered for the first person to prove Ardell wrong. Several individuals sure act like it.

    I appreciate all pieces of information, and both Craig and Ardell have written posts highlighting the advantage of their profession in the real estate industry. There is nothing wrong with that!!! It allows the reader to have more information to evaluate and choose the approach that is best for them should they become a buyer or seller.

    • Not to worry Lesley. When you’re Wyatt Earp, every new kid on street wants to Duel with you. Goes with the territory. A compliment really.

      Not following this today. Have to go up and finish this house in the post so it is in the mls before the stroke of midnight. Today I’m Cinderella. LOL!

  16. Maybe I’m missing something here. If lawyers start real estate brokerages and compete with real estate brokers aren’t they just lawyers who become brokers. I know of many lawyers who have become real estate agents. If they act as both broker and lawyer on the same transaction I think there may be a conflict of interest.

    • No, Mitchell, you’re not missing anything. A VERY astute point!

      Yes, there is a conflict of interest, because a client has the right to expect a lawyer to protect the interests of the client against the world in regards to the subject of the representation. Thus, if I hire a lawyer to assist me in buying a house, I have the right to expect that lawyer to protect me from EVERYONE else in the transaction, including my RE broker.

      However, as long as client consent to the conflict is “reasonable” a client can consent to the conflict of interest. We have a multi-page form that is part of our fee agreement paperwork that explains the conflict of interest to the potential client and asks for his consent.

      Those lawyers who work only as agents? That is loaded with problems as well, particularly if they promote their broker services because they also happen to be lawyers. Plus, if they don’t assume all of the obligations of a lawyer to a client, then they’re no different than an agent. And as I’ve made clear — or tried to anyway — it is those obligations that are at the heart of what it means to “represent” somebody.

  17. Good real estate agents make the job look easy. But to be good you need to have knowledge in a lot of different fields to sell the home.

    Lawyers on the other hand are an expert only in handling the closing paper work but there are a lot of steps involved before you get there.

  18. Ardell referred me to this post from a previous discussion. My comment is that this is only from the Selling Agent perspective and agree that an Agent may be more inclined to do the things you describe than an Attorney. But this doesn’t explain why an Buyer’s Agent would be worth 3%. I also have noted that most transactions begin with everyone showing their best side, but as it progresses and difficulties are encountered, Agents’ professionalism and ability to handle the details diminishes.

    Our recent experience; we did the research online, did the drivebys, made arrangments to tour (usually waited for Open Houses) and were well coached (paid for it!) by an Attorney on what the various aspects of the contract meant. We had test driven several Agents and frankly got sick of being told to buy homes we didn’t want. We were also freaked out to hear their many incorrect (ie., “glue sniffing” or “HALP! I can’t READ!”) interpretations of the contract and our obligations as Buyers.

    When we found the home we wanted, we chose an agent whom we had met during a previous Open House who seemed OK. This was not a distressed sale, we beat out other offers and the home went a little above asking price. Things went well until our lender failed to make the closing date (due to paperwork going MIA at the bank) and requested 2 extra days to close. This is where we learned that neither Agent could read a contract.

    Both agents insisted that the deal was automatically and irretrieveably dead and that we’d forfeit our earnest money, which was a significant amount. We were apologetic and understood that the sellers could end the agreement. But we disputed (and escalated to both Brokers) that the EM would be at risk since the error was out of our control. The Brokers agreed on that point and also commented that delayed Closings were common and not necessarily a deal breaker. Then we heard (from a neighbor) that the Sellers themselves were never interested in killing the deal- they were fine to wait 2 days. It was their Agent hoping to boot us, keep the EM and then get more $$ from another interested party. I probably shouldn’t have (because it pissed them off, read on…), but both agents got a butt chewing from me.

    So the deal was back on, albeit neither agent was happy and things went to Petty Land. Our agent didn’t show up for the final walkthrough, then the selling agent wouldn’t hand over the keys for a reschedule. Finally our agent’s Broker had get the keys and attend another reschedule after we made threatening noises about delaying closing again or doing a holdback on the closing funds until we could get inside. After we Closed, the Selling Agent wouldn’t take her staging stuff out of the house, or give us the keys until 8:55PM and left a big bag of smelly trash in the kitchen that hadn’t been there a few days previously. The lockbox was also left on (Now with a key inside unlike before) for another 2 weeks and the For Sale sign stayed up for another 3. Everyone should feel doggone lucky we’ve been too busy moving in to find out where they live and return the favor somehow.

    Neither agent represented their sides appropriately and did not earn their pay in our opinion. Our agent seemed more afraid of offending the Selling agent than of the consequences of poorly representing their client. The selling agent appeared to be only out for herself versus doing what her clients wanted. The most disturbing thing to me was their poor handling of the missed closing date and the earnest money. The pettiness was upsetting and indicative of their quality, but the inability to interpret the contract would have cost us both the house and a lot of $$ if we hadn’t been well educated by that Attorney’s coaching previously. The seller may have also lost out if they had started over with a new buyer and it didn’t pan out or their agent got greedy again.

    So what I’m driving at is that based on our observations and experience, an Attorney is definitely the best option to represent a Buyer or Seller when it comes to the mechanics, execution and enforcement of the contract. Most Agents may do very well on the esthetics and salesmanship portion of a sale. The really good ones (Ardell) also have a an excellent understanding of the contract and have a high level of personal integrity. But I don’t think there are very many Agents of that caliber out there- at least I haven’t seen ’em. I think the kind of thing I described goes on way more than the RE industry wants anyone to think.

    And Agents simply don’t have the same level of systemic accountability to their clients that an Attorney has- period. I also think that it’s less of a stretch for someone like Craig to ‘get crafty’ and start hanging out at JoAnne Fabrics (LOL!) than it would be for either of the Agents involved in our scenario to elevate to the level required to become an Attorney. After going through the process, it seems to us that’s the kind of expertise needed to smoothly and equitably close a transaction, particularly when things start to go wrong.

    • Lee,

      All I can say is I’m sorry you had such a bad experience. That was one heck of a story. Some agents lose it when something goes a little sideways.

      That said…in the olden days when I was working on one transaction in a string of closings, I have been known to lose it myself. LOL!

      My clients were 4th in a string of 6 all in the same day, each dependent on the one behind them closing. The first buyer was buying the 2nd guy’s house, the 2nd guy was buying the third guy’s house…etc. I haven’t seen that in a long time. I’m not sure why. I’ll have to ponder that. In that case 2 days late would have been a nightmare holding up 5 or 6 families who were waiting to close with their stuff in moving trucks waiting for closing so they could unload and the people could move into their homes.

      Owner #1 had to empty his house for closing on to a truck. The truck drove to his new house and waited out front until they got the OK and the key to move in. This was quite common and everything had to be fairly precise for all five families to close and move in to their homes before dark. All on ONE closing day.

      Two days late is sometimes a nightmare, and when the people for the 3rd closing that was supposed to end at noon were still in there bickering over some silly nonsense at 2 p.m. I broke into the closing to remind them there were 3 families with children in the lobby waiting for them to close so THEY could get in and close. I believe I may have even grabbed the agent in the room by the tie or the neck. πŸ™‚

      Late is generally not good and is really not an every day event in real estate and usually pretty darned stressful, as it was for you and your agents and probably the seller as well. When it happens it is not an “oh, well”. IF it does not severely impact my client, all is calm and we work through it. IF it does severely impact my client as in they have to close on their next house after you close on theirs, or they have to pay the mover for 2 extra days because their stuff is already moved out and in the truck with no place to go until you close so they can close…yes…all hell breaks loose.

      BUT usually we are all freaking out at the lender…never the buyer. πŸ™‚

      If the house were vacant when you bought it and it is a couple of days late…no biggee. If you are buying new construction…no biggee. It is only a big deal when the seller occupied the home and emptied it for your closing and that seller’s closing on their new home is delayed because yours was delayed.

      Just answering honestly that two days late on the loan is not acceptable, generally speaking, and does not pass without some stress.

      As to reading contracts, as you can see from the above, it never is a mess because of contracts or how to read them. It is only a mess if it puts the seller out on the street with no place to go.

      So I don’t understand how “reading contracts” would help in that situation. Real estate is about PEOPLE, not contracts, when it comes to Freaking Out. Never a reason to get pissy about paper.

      • Your comment is telling, Ardell.

        You don’t understand, on a fundamental level, the importance of good legal counsel. Yes, its about people. But at the end of the day, you have legal rights and legal obligations as set by the contract. Unless the parties are willing to enter into a voluntary transaction right up until closing — where either party can walk at any point — the contract lies at the heart of the transaction. If you don’t or can’t understand the contract, you are not providing any sort of competent representation.

        And that’s part of the reason why I believe agents provide “representation” — something well short of what they loudly and repeatedly claim to provide. They don’t “get it” — even outstanding, hardworking, extremely knowledgable — and heck, good looking! — agents such as yourself. As illustrated by your comment.

    • You have a good scenario there that I think is important to clarify on one point.

      You did the right thing by going to the broker, they are the ones responsible. From what you described you could have insisted that the brokers followed the transaction to closing.

      There are many things you could have done to ensure a smoother closing, but you shouldn’t have to.

      I personally think buyers and sellers should have the right to ask for a review in cases like this to see if it is appropriate for the commission to be paid.

      • David,

        While I am not an attorney (LOL) I see no basis for not paying the commission because the agents had a hissy fit when the closing day ended with no closing. I have never seen a closing day end with no closing without some stress.

        Often the stress involves agents and sellers fearing it won’t close at all. Lenders are usually ON TIME. Funny this whole story doesn’t involve anyone getting mad at the two day late lender who caused the problem in the first place.

        Lenders really MUST close on time. Not closing on time is never a good thing. Sometimes worse than others, but never a good thing.

        As to Lee’s story…If it had closed on time without a hitch, likely he wouldn’t have a story to tell. I find it hard to believe an agent would carry a bag of garbage into the kitchen because she was ticked off. More likely the owner emptied the refrigerator and forgot about it and because the closing was two days late, it started to stink in the interim.

        Everyone’s renditions of what happened when a closing was late is different, very stressful and everyone seems to remember it differently. If 5 people are involved, you’ll get 5 different versions.

        What was your worst “didn’t close on time” scenario? Doesn’t everyone always freak out at the lender if they are late? If docs aren’t at escrow by closing day? If the docs are AT escrow by the time you need an extension…no biggee. But if the docs are not IN by the time you need to ask for an extension, that is NEVER good. Never.

        So the buyer is two days late and the problem is…the agents? Not the lender who caused the problem? Something odd about that.

        • I left a longer reply below. But to clarify- the Sellers were out of state. And the house was spotless during final walk-through. Nothing in the fridge, empty cupboards, no garbage cans, etc. The only person with access at that time was the Selling Agent. So yes, she DID leave that bag simply out of spite.

          • I’ll read the rest of the story below. I thought of that answer because it happened to me recently. Not left in the house…but…

            The owners had moved out of my Queen Anne listing late last year and moved out of State. So the person who had to empty everything before closing was me. They had left some things in the refrigerator that they thought someone could use. They cleaned it out spit spot, but did leave food in it as well.

            I had several bags of things to remove from the house before closing that they didn’t move with them. This is often the case for out of town moves as they find out at the last minute that the movers won’t take aerosol cans or the gas tank attachment on the barbecue grill or a gas lawn mower. The movers do not always take everything the owner thought they would.

            So one of the 7 bags of things was filled with things from inside the refrigerator. Two days later, had I neglected to toss it, (the trip to the trash in that house was a bit far to the rear alley vs out front on my way out) it would have started to stink.

            So that could have been me, indadvertently. Why someone does something is never a known, and I still find it difficult to believe that someone would bring in trash “on spite”. There are usually much better ways to stink up a house on spite that are less obvious, like putting a dead fish behind the refrigerator. πŸ™‚

          • Gah! Now maybe I need to look behind the refrigerator too! πŸ™‚
            The other thing I didn’t mention is that the Agent called me the B-word over the phone after I had chewed her and my own agent out on a conference call. Although I didn’t use any profanity or call anyone names. So I’m fairly certain this was intended.

    • could it be that real estate agents are no different than mortgage originators? They are only paid when there is a successful closing.

      Seriously, if these professions were compensated based on hourly wages (like an attorney?) instead of sales price or loan amount — we’d see a huge difference. Buyers and sellers would have to become far more serious or committed before hiring a “re professional”.

      • Rhonda, I think most clear-thinking people — at least those without a significant vested interest in the existing system — admit that the method of agent compensation is inconsistent with the role we expect agents to play. Its why we’ve “friended” Redfin — they get it.

      • Rhonda,

        I don’t disagree with that. Yes Agents are pretty much the same as lenders. Not really a lot of difference at all. The Agent simply has to know more about more fields. Knowing and guiding in the lending area, home inspection, contractual duties, property, property values, property styles, how much it may cost to fix or change something. Yes, you are correct. There are many similarities, you simply have to say that about all the fields that touch real estate and the agent vs the lender. The agent is at the Center of all ancillary services including Lender, Title and Escrow during a closing.

        That is why an agent usually makes more than each of them separately.

        I need you to be the expert at your field, but I need to know enough about your field to do my job well and advise my client accordingly. I don’t need to be an expert at your field, but their is crossover.

        For instance, I have a client who needs to buy a property. It could be a condo, a townhome or a house because of the price and area. It would be a great condo, a good townhome or a “starter” home.

        To assist in that product selection process, I have to modify the “qualifying” amount by “yes HOA” fee and “no HOA” fee, back and forth. The extra $350 a month in condo fee changes the qualifying amount if there is none. The HOA fee on the Condo is $200 more a month than on the house. I have to adjust accordingly.

        The lender system of “you qualify for $350,000” assumes a buyer knows roughly what they want to buy, which is not always the case. A lender may “assume” a condo fee of $250 in the “you qualify for $350,000” but the condo in the area he likes is a primo building with high dues of $525. That extra condo fee reduces the qualifying amount by $50,000 or so. An agent needs to adjust from property to property.

        Yes…the buyer could call his lender about all of the 20 properties he might see and ask for each one, but that is not usually the case. The agent needs to make the adjustment and know when an adjustment needs to be made from one property to the next based on Real Estate Taxes and HOA dues.

        NEVER does the lender tell the agent what they assumed for taxes and HOA dues unless I ask them, as if it doesn’t matter. In this day of short sales it matters a great deal, as some properties that sold for $650,000 in 2007 are as low as $300,000 when it comes to condos. The prices are down well below the reduction in Real Estate Taxes and the condo fees are still up where they would be for a $650,000 condo. Adjustments from property to property need to be made.

        An agent needs to know a lot about all of the other fields that touch the transaction. That is why historically the job of agent was 3 to 4 times that of the lender.

        An agent is never “worth” one set hourly wage. We handle many “tasks” from high end counsel on property topics to making a flyer and putting on a lockbox to staging to helping with the loan and lender choice. We probably skip back and forth from a minimum wage thing to a Craig level thing more than once on any given day. But the bottom line is people do not hire me for my “time”. The subject of how much time will it take is not a known. Some clients find a house quickly or already know and others take a year. The agent service is priced appropriately, but just as you do (or did before the new law) we need to adjust as needed.

    • Lee, thank you for the comment. I am 100% in agreement!

      I must note also that I am not ONLY a lawyer. I’m also a broker, and eventually I envision hiring agents to provide all of the services that an agent provides OTHER than the practice of law, which will always be handled by lawyers at WaLaw. And if the client wants to pay us for our time for services that aren’t covered by the flat fee — whether “gettin’ crafty” or otherwise — we will be happy to do so.

      Basically, our goal is to have agents provide agent services and lawyers to provide lawyer services, because any successful transaction requires both. We just don’t think its appropriate to have the “lower skilled” person — the agent — provide the “higher skill” service — the practice of law. If its one person, it should be — and at WaLaw is — the other way around.

  19. Our purchase was a vacant home – and the Sellers stated that they had no heartache over a 2 day delay. So there was no reason to Freak Out. We gave our Lender serious heat – we took turns riding them and requiring status updates on every little thing all the way to close. However, all both Agents did was kvetch at us…

    About being able to read and interpret a Contract: the Contract is the source of record for the transaction. It outlines what both parties are agreeing to do and is designed to keep all parties honest , create mutual understanding of what’s expected and the consequences of noncompliance.

    So Ardell, here’s the part where “Paper” does become all about PEOPLE…

    When an Agent who is professing (and paid) to be “your expert” in the transaction is unable to interpret the mutually agreed upon terms correctly; at best it creates false expectations, swirl and unnecessary stress for everyone.

    The worst case is that the Seller/Buyer loses a lot of money or a sale when they really didn’t have to. Neither the Seller nor the Buyer need any additional stress – one of the things the Agents are being paid for is to guide the process minimize stress, not create more of it.

    This is why I think Attorneys are better suited to this piece – they exist in the space where “Paper” (laws, contracts, etc) impacts People and understand why it is important. Agents tend to focus on Salesmanship, Visual Appeal- which are also important parts. But the problem is that they also seem to think the Contract is something optional and peripheral, when in fact that is the foundation of your agreement.

    So heck yeah- the Lender really screwed up (and believe me they heard about it), but the Agents’ ignorance made it worse. Two wrongs don’t make a right…

    I agree with David- I think there should be some review option in place to determine if the Agents really earned their commission. I don’t know how much work the Selling Agent in our deal did for the Sellers that we didn’t see. So while her behavior was a real pain, I won’t presume to say if she earned her commission or not.

    But our Agent did very little to represent us or help minimize the swirl when something went bad. We had to do that ourselves, so why not have the ability to ask for a little of that back?

    • Lee, the buyer’s agent is paid by the seller to “sell” the home. So your agent totally earned the commission, period. The problem is that you, like pretty much everyone, thinks that your agent is being paid to represent you. That is in fact not the case (unless you adopt Ardell’s strained argument that the SOC “belongs” to the buyer to “spend” as the buyer deems appropriate).

      • Craig,

        The seller offers the fee to sell his home. The Buyer Agent gets it to represent the buyer. I can offer you $10 to buy dinner…you may take it to buy someone else dinner.

        The offering and the taking are not to the same purpose.

        This is not because of my “strained argument” this is because of the LAW of Agency. The Agency Law is not in play at the time of offering because the buyer and who helps them is an unknown at time of offer. It could be the Listing Agent or the buyer could be an Agent. So at time of OFFERING it is offered by the seller to sell his house.

        At the time it is paid, it is usually converted to a Buyer Agent Fee from an SOC…or not. The ONLY time the SOC is NOT paid for “Buyer REPRESENTATION” is when the Agent who works with the buyer is ineligible to that status under the terms of the Law of Agency in WA OR the parties mutually agree otherwise.

        Buyer Representation is the default. The Buyer has to elect “no agency” to NOT get it or deal with the seller or listing agent direct to NOT get it. Those are the parameters of the Law.

        Ooops…I’m not supposed to talk about legal things…Oh my dear, whatever am I going to do? Anyone practicing real estate must know the laws pertaining to it.

        • At the time it is paid, it is usually
          converted to a Buyer Agent Fee from an
          SOC…or not.

          Any chance you could explain that in greater detail? This is the first I’ve ever heard about this “conversion.” How is it “converted”? How does anyone know its been “converted”?

          I’ll jump ahead here. It isn’t converted. It’s the SOC and its paid to the agent who “sold” the home. It just so happens that the agent who “sold” the home — usually, but not always — also “represented” the client.

    • Given your attention to selecting a good and appropriate agent to represent you, I don’t know why you are surprised. You in your own words elected to “grab an Open House agent who seemed OK'” after ditching the first one who worked with you, who also was not a good choice.

      I absolutely agree that next time you need to put more thought into whom you choose to represent you, be that a good agent or a bad agent or a good lawyer to the task at hand or a bad lawyer to the task at hand.

      On that, I 100% agree.

      A good agent can freak out and so do attorneys. The difference is those who freak out for their clients sake and those who freak out for their own selfish and petty reasons. Sometimes the agents freak out because they begged you NOT to use that lender known to never be on time back at he beginning. There’s always more to the story. RARELY is the buyer blamed for lender delay…unless the buyer was warned in advance. We had that for awhile with B of A. They were not closing or delaying closing on most every transaction for awhile there. That changes from time to time.

      If I BEGGED the buyer to PLEASE, PLEASE use anyone on God’s Green EARTH instead of that ONE place, and they used them, and it got hairy at the end, yes…we get ticked. Almost NEVER are last minute crazies with a lender in a situation when my client or the other agent’s client listened to the counsel of the agent regarding lenders to choose from. Most every single time, they are when a buyer uses a lender no one recommended.

      That may not be the case for you, but in my experience the only time agents get upset with a buyer is when they say NO to doing it well and then want help when it goes sideways. There has got to be more to this story, is my point.

      BUT…all that said, I agree that you should use an attorney. Yes, you, Lee, should use an attorney next time, as you seem to be a bad “Agent Picker” by your own admission.

      • So maybe that is a good post for you Ardell-

        Meaning, how do you suggest a Buyer go about picking a good Buyer’s Agent? I think many Buyers would appreciate a set of criteria to apply.

        To me frankly they all seemed the same. The majority we met (and we were house hunting for a couple years) seemed uninterested in answering any of our questions or having a sit down to discuss expectations and obligations. It was all- “don’t bother me unless you want to make an offer and we’ll talk then”. By then it’s too late!

        And from another angle – I’m The Customer! All Agents are marketed as being “experts”– so if that were true, it shouldn’t matter who I pick.

        And we put more effort into the choice than you imply… The agent we chose was actually willing to talk about expectations and their experience, and was recommended by coworkers who had also been their client. So they initially seemed better than the others.

        But we didn’t think to pull out the quiz book and ask “So what happens if we miss Closing? Do you really know what the contract says? Do you plan on freaking out if something goes wrong?” Why does the Customer need to be an expert in order to get decent service?

        You can’t “Blame the Customer” Ardell… that doesn’t ring right at all.

  20. Yes Craig- I know.. πŸ™‚

    However we also know in reality that 6% is tacked onto the amount that the Seller ‘really’ wants to have in their pocket. So even though technically the Seller pays the commission- it is really coming out of the Buyer’s pocket.

    And the reason Buyers think their Agent is representing them is because that’s what the Agents and the entire RE industry likes to say. And the reason they spin it that way is if Buyers understood their Agent wasn’t representing them, they’d push harder to represent themselves (or hire an attorney) and save on that 3%.

    So to me, that’s free money to Buyer’s Agents simply for showing up and filling out a standard contract form. (and not even needing to understand it!) Unless there are a few out there who really DO give service.

    • In case its not clear, you and I are totally on the same page. I rebate the SOC to my buyer client, which more than pays for my fee and leaves the buyer with the savings of using an attorney rather than just an agent.

      Which gives you an idea of how absurd the system is — lawyers are the cheaper alternative.

  21. To Lee,

    Lawyers are just as likely to get a bit miffed and stressed when a closing is delayed as an agent.


    Above is Craig’s “late closing”. It is not about agents vs lawyers. It’s about late or not late.

    Craig and I happened to have closings at the same time that were similar.


    In my case I can tell you, and the buyer will himself admit, that the buyer made it extremely difficult at times, and we laugh about it now. But I wasn’t laughing back then.

    I got a call before closing from the Listing Agent that the buyer had “broken in” to the house and moved something into the house and changed the locks. Talk about an agent freaking out! LOL! I sent someone else to meet him to “fix” the problem, and they all had a good laugh. I know when to delegate. πŸ™‚

  22. To Lee,

    This is what Craig said in the post I linked to above:

    “Of course, all of this took time and naturally required an extension of the closing date. Did the bank agree to a short extension? Of course not. Huh? Ready, willing, and able buyer (who had invested significant time and money into the property) who had a good faith reason for seeking an extension β€” but the bank did not budge. The deal collapsed as a result, and my client’s earnest money is now hotly contested.”

    So no…Earnest Money being in jeopardy when you can’t close on time is NOT about whether you have an Agent or an Attorney. Calm? Judge for yourself after reading that post in full. Does he sound “calm” to you? “hotly contest” is a clue of how much heat was in that one. Late = Stress often, not always, but often. πŸ™‚

    • True, Ardell. But I think the point — and its a fine one that’s easy to miss πŸ˜‰ – is that you’re MORE likely to have problems if the “professionals” don’t understand the legal rights and obligations of the parties.

      • But that simply is not true, Craig.

        When it comes to “late closings” and “extensions needed” it is more about the why than the what or the legal paperwork.

        Often the lender lies and blames the late closing on the buyer. JUST HAD THAT happen in my last closing. The seller was upset (builder). We used HIS choice of lender for a specific reason, that reason is I knew it was likely to be late for a reason that had to do with the seller vs the buyer. I anticipated the late closing at time of contract. HIS lender of choice told him the loan was late because “the buyer…. and the buyer’s choice of escrow…” blah, blah, blah all not true.

        At the final walk through with the builder, as is usually the case in new construction, the builder told me all these lies his lender told him, and was a bit angry as yes…we were going to close later than “5 days from CO per contract”. I had countered his 5 days from CO with 10 days from CO way back when I wrote the contract three months ago, because I knew 5 days was not possible in this case. He did not accept that back at contract…so I KNEW in this case closing was going to be late from day ONE! I knew it would take 10 days from CO not 5…and I was right.

        As to it being late because “the buyer…the buyer’s choice of escrow…” blah, blah, I said “that is a bold faced lie!” He said: “I like you.” LOL!

        It is important to put blame where blame is due on new construction because there is almost always a per diem to the buyer for being “late”. I had to call the liar a liar or my buyer would have been charged the per diem.

        So NO CRAIG! The legal implication was that the contract said that the buyer had to pay a per diem IF the buyer or their lender was late…BUT NO…that did not happen…what was on paper in the contract did NOT happen…as I made damned sure my client was not going to pay a per diem merely because the seller would not grant the needed 10 days from CO in the first place that was needed.

        It was not about the contract…it was about knowing how the lending process functions on new construction as to a VA Appraisal. It was NOT about knowing “the paperwork”. It was about knowing the difference between a Conventional Loan process and a VA loan process.

        • Of course it is escrow’s fault. Always is! LOL. Because escrow should have gotten that VA appraisal back sooner (for those that don’t know….escrow does not do appraisals). Or, we should have taken a plane down to the funding department in Arizona and pushed the “fund” button. Or, we could have just given the buyer money from our own personal bank account just to get the deal closed and have the lender reimburse us later (kidding of course).


          • For readers, we are only talking about new construction on this one that is being built for the buyer.

            For some reason builders don’t understand that an Appraiser can’t appraise a house that doesn’t EXIST YET! LOL!

            Since the CO comes in sometimes within an hour of when the home is complete, and appraisers like to appraise a house when it is complete, you have to allow for the appraisal being done at the end. For homes that exist at time of offer, the appraisal is done in the beginning vs the end, so not an issue.

            VA appraisals have to pass through a central site and be posted on a website. A regular appraisal usually goes straight to the lender and done. A VA appraisal needs a separate review and approval from VA. I’m not the expert on VA loans, but that’s the gist of it. So the process takes an extra few days. 5 from CO is not usually enough. I estimated it would be 10 to closing and that’s how long it took.

            Some agents say “they don’t have a crystal ball” to know what may happen. I say YES…we do have a crystal ball. It’s called EXPERIENCE!

  23. I have a Rule of thumb about getting an extension that works to keep things calmer that is worth mentioning at this point.

    When I get a call from a lender 5 to 7 days before a closing saying “we may need a couple of days extra, can you get an extension?” I usually say NO! Let’s see where you are when we get closer to the deadline. TRY your damndest to close on TIME!

    I then assess the potential fallout if it were to close two days late. Empty house…not usually a big problem. The Buyer Agent needs to assess the potential damage to the seller if the transaction is late. NO I don’t pick up the phone and ask the Listing Agent and alarm them and the seller in the process. If the seller is living in the house, what I do is different than if the seller is not living in the house. Usually I know where the seller is by that stage of the transaction, even though I represent the buyer and not the seller. That comes up when I write the offer and the closing date into the contract, and I file that piece of info away in my brain in case it is later needed.


    When loan docs are at escrow, everyone is pretty calm and it’s just a matter of signing and recording.

    When loan docs are not at escrow and you ask for an extension…all hell breaks loose because everyone fears they will never get to escrow.

    Also lenders are known for saying docs today…every day…whether there are going to be docs today or not. That is a VERY stressful situation because EVERY DAY at five p.m. the lender is proven to be a liar! Today, today, today…ad nauseum sometimes = NO LOAN DOCS EVER!

    So the BEST Rule of Thumb if you need a one or two day extension is to ask for that extension close to the deadline of by closing. IF the docs are IN escrow when you ask for an extension, it diffuses the fear that they may never come in at all, and things usually proceed fairly calmly and smoothly.

    It is not about BEING calm no matter what…it’s about knowing HOW to handle the situation so that people ARE calm. Not telling them to BE calm.

  24. Ardell,

    The point of my initial post was not to complain that somebody lost their cool and had a hissy. I’m tough enough to handle a little agent hissy fit or two and it makes a good story to share with colleagues, friends and neighbors.

    And there was absolutely no undue tension between either party until the Lender dropped the ball and we hustled like heck to get things back on track, so I’m not leaving anything out here.

    So (stating this again) what concerns me was that both Agents INSISTED that the deal was dead and proceeded as if we would automatically sign over the EM. This would have cost us money and the Sellers would have had to go through all of the stress of starting over. I don’t believe the Agent even asked the Sellers what their preference was before they launched on us.

    And the bottom line is that they were wrong- TWICE- both about the contract and the Seller’s intent. We (as laymen) knew what the Finance Contingency outlined and their Brokers certainly knew it. And the Sellers were willing to give us 2 more days.

    I don’t think there would be any reasonable professional excuse for what the Selling Agent did — she certainly didn’t go leave any garbage in our Lender’s office. That may have been a more just response.

    So Ardell tell me- what other reasons are there for this behavior other than that these Agents didn’t know how to read and interpret their own contract?

  25. Oh, and we raised the fact that we understood we may have to pay per diem to the seller (as described in the contract). Our Lender even offered to reimburse us if we had to pay. But both Agents didn’t even know what we were talking about and kept beating the “deal is dead” drum.

    • LOL! They were totally fed up with you for some reason. This is real estate, Lee. Shit happens, and people are human whether they are agents or lawyers.

      You have to tick someone off pretty badly for them to call you the B word. Everyone has a limit…and somehow you crossed that line, probably without realizing it.

      When both agents hate your guts by closing day…you were probably, innocently and unknowingly, driving them absolutely nuts from day one. It happens, even with my clients sometimes. The wife rolls her eyes and apologizes and the guy sends me flowers once he realizes what a freaking pain in the butt he was. Sometimes it’s the reverse and the woman is the pain asking odd non real estate questions via 20 text messages a day.

      This is residential real estate. I use anger to a purpose at times. Using anger to a purpose is a skill and art form. Look up Aristotle on Anger. Awesome art form and used often in real estate to shift things back on to the right track.

      I once had a client who had a wall hanging over his desk: “How to be a bastard” …and he was…and he knew it. Almost every buyer or seller who thinks they know more about real estate than the professional in the room has a reason why they may have chosen someone who had no more than a laymens knowledge on the subject…or who they treat as if the agent doesn’t know more than them.

      It’s because they don’t WANT the agent to know more than them. You must have treated them like crap. No one gets called the b word for no good reason.

  26. Hmm.. well in the business I work in, that kind of reaction to a customer is called unprofessional and someone could have been fired. People are indeed human, but the personal drama in our scenario was more than a little bit over the top.

    I think this was more about floundering in unknown territory than being irritated.

    And I don’t think we had systemically treated either Agent like crap. We followed our agent’s lead and advice during the offer and that is probably what got us the house in a multiple offer situation. AND we thanked him profusely when that happened. We were sad and a little surprised to see him completely shut down when the issue with Closing cropped up. Although the Selling Agent went pretty bat sh!$ on him, so that may have been why.

    We had little to no interaction with the Selling agent before things went south around Closing, so I don’t see where there was even an opportunity for us to personally irritate her.

    I only decided to get angry and barge in when our $$ was at stake and nobody seemed inclined to do anything but let the deal die & hit us with the bill. If we were going to lose out on everything, might as well try one last effort- right? (I notice you are still avoiding commenting on that piece and focusing on the emotional aspects of how the customer may have offended the agents instead.)

    I see throwing the B-word or dropping an F-bomb in a business transaction as an indication that a person knows they are in the wrong, but will be darned if they’re going to admit it – so they say something childish/shocking in hopes that it will end the conversation.

    And even if we had been systematically horrible to someone – that is still no excuse for failing to deliver on the services you are supposed to provide and are being paid for. If you can’t stand the person(s), you call in someone else to finish the job. In this case, maybe David’s suggestion about pulling in the Brokers to finish up would have been better.

  27. “I only decided to get angry and barge in when our $$ was at stake and nobody seemed inclined to do anything but let the deal die & hit us with the bill. If we were going to lose out on everything, might as well try one last effort- right? (I notice you are still avoiding commenting on that piece and focusing on the emotional aspects of how the customer may have offended the agents instead.)”


    As you can see from Craig’s post, even with an attorney involved, not closing on the closing date may equal “let the deal die & hit (you) with the bill”. That is contractually what can happen. That is contractually what is supposed to happen. There is no language in the contract for a resale house vs new construction that addresses being late to close. Why? Because it is NOT supposed to be LATE, ever. Not a small thing.

    I don’t agree with buyer losing their Earnest Money if they can’t get the loan on time. That is not true in all real estate contracts in the Country, or even that I have dealt with in my 21 years.

    It is true here…and I agree that should not be the case. I personally think that Finance Contingencies should run to the day of closing, and that is how they always were on the East Coast. I never saw otherwise until I moved to the West Coast in 1998. I think if a buyer can’t get a mortgage, he should get his Earnest Money back, regardless of what day that happens. West Coast contracts do not agree with me on that. πŸ™‚

    It is not an idle threat that if you do not close on the contract date the sale may be cancelled and you may lose your Earnest Money. That is something that someone (lawyer OR agent) will have to tell you can happen, and may happen. To you of course that possibility was ludicrous and horrible and uncalled for in your situation. But contractually that is a “truth”…that rarely plays out that way and still, someone has to be the messenger of that bad news.

    I hear you about your job and emotions…but Residential Real Estate is a very emotional business…often. You would not believe some of the things sellers say OFTEN about buyers.

    “Tell that buyer to shove that offer up their a$$”…still, we work through it and it closes, most times.

    “I’m not going to fix that! I lived in this house for 10 years and that $%^^$$ Buyer acts like my home is a piece of S&it that is falling down! I wouldn’t sell him my house if”…still we work through it and it closes…most times.”

    Residential Real Estate is a very emotional business. Look…even you got emotional. Yes…we are the calm in the storm almost always. But once one person starts screaming and saying nasty things…it’s hard to stop the cycle until the problem is resolved. Then everyone is calm again.

    Just is Lee. I cannot tell you how many times in 21 years I have had to deal with people who are freaking out. Buyers…sellers…agents…lenders…escrow…lawyers…lots of people freak out at times in real estate. OFTEN…when it doesn’t close on time. Probably 80% of all freak outs happen when it doesn’t close on time.

    I used to call lender and escrow 5 days before closing, and if they were not on top of their game and looked like they were maybe going to create a delay…I freaked out. My sales all closed on time as a result of my strategy of making it clear that LATE was NOT an OPTION! πŸ™‚

    Late is never good. You had a problem because the loan was late. It happens most EVERY time.

    Glad it all worked out OK. It often does. Having a good agent, bad agent, lawyer…or your Grandma will not change the fact that late closings often get…how did Craig put it…”hotly contested”.

    It’s like the Wedding Cake Lady being “two days late”. it’s only two days…but it’s a Joe Biden BFD!

    Once one person flies off the handle…well, shit rolls downhill and emotional reaction can become contagious. All I can say is emotional exchanges if a contract goes past the deadline…are the norm, not the exception.

  28. I understand that Late is Late and that does put things in question. Fair enough.

    But Craig’s post says that his client’s earnest money was being ‘hotly contested’ – which to me, is not the same as an automatic assumption to just give up.

    In our case, the Seller really wanted to sell and we really wanted to buy. But the Agents just “ass-umed” and compounded the Lender’s mistake by almost getting in the way of a Closing that both the Seller and Buyer wanted to make happen.

    I doubt any attorney would have simply given up at that point – neither would you for that matter.

    So why is it a bad thing that we didn’t want to give up either? We’re fairly certain if I hadn’t given the butt chewing and escalated to the Brokers, then we’d be out our earnest money with no house and maybe the house might even still be on the market.

    So boo hoo if I hurt their feelings – I didn’t scream at them or call them names; I just firmly and bluntly told them how things were going to work from that point forward. Their Brokers concurred, so clearly I wasn’t that far out of line.

    If they can’t take a little straightening out without dropping the B-word, with holding the keys and leaving trash in the house, then they’re clearly in the wrong business.

    • I don’t understand that part, and so think somehow it was a mis-communication. Makes no sense for your agent to not want to close, as she would not get paid. How could that even happen?

      That is beyond my realm of imagination.

      For BOTH agents to be taking that position is just surreal. That’s why I think there’s something to this story that has to be missing. I have NEVER met two agents who thought a 2 day extension was not a workable scenario. Maybe one…but TWO…in the same transaction?

      Even in Craig’s scenario there was only one side that wanted to end it at “late – too bad”. I don’t know what happened in his scenario. I don’t know if the client closed or lost his Earnest Money. It was still in progress when he wrote the post.

      What possible reason could two agents have to not want to close two days later on a vacant property? Can you shed any light on that?

  29. Well, I couldn’t tell you for certain- even with the 2 day delay we still closed in under 30 days from mutual acceptance.

    However, the Selling Agent did comment several times to our Agent (once we were past inspection) that she felt she had underpriced the place. It wasn’t a steal, it fell in the middle of what similar homes in the area sold for.

    The way we found out that the sellers were open to extending 2 days is that the day of closing, I ran into the lady across the street from the house at the store who asked excitedly “Did you close?”

    When I told her our dilemma, she emailed the sellers (they were friends) and then forwarded me their response. Basically they wanted to be done with the place and didn’t see the harm in giving us 2 more days – but also commented we had better “get our act together”- Fair enough. They mentioned that they were also arguing with their Agent because she was convinced she could dump us and get more $$. They felt following through on the current deal was better and would prefer to close than wait another month. They also didn’t think a 2 day delay would prevent them from getting another offer if we flaked on them. Seems reasonable?

    So clearly the Selling Agent had come down with a bad case of greed. I can’t guess what our Agent’s issue was. Maybe he was in cahoots with her – or maybe he just didn’t have the stomach for it anymore- he was bearing the brunt of her behavior. But who knows? I’m not going to ask him and open that wound up again.

    Obviously since we ended up Closing (and had an almost perfect stranger going to bat for us), we can’t be too weird and irritating and had to be doing several somethings right.

    Again- I think you’re blaming the Customer, but yet giving your fellow Agents a big load of “benefit of the doubt.”

    I think the RE industry lacks a current day perspective on Accountability and Customer Service. That is why services like RedFin, WaLaw, Realty 500 etc are even getting a foothold. Sure there are times when outrageous behavior even from a paying Customer can’t be tolerated, but I think the bar is set pretty low currently.

  30. First and foremost, Lee, I want to thank you for this honest and level-headed exchange. I believe it will be helpful to those who read it both now and in the future. I sincerely thank you for sharing what I know is a personal issue, and in such detail.

    You said: “Well, I couldn’t tell you for certain- even with the 2 day delay we still closed in under 30 days from mutual acceptance.”

    I suspected that to be the case. At first I thought it might have been a shortcoming of your agent to not adequately allow for the time it takes to process a loan…but…you later mentioned that there were multiple offers.

    It is not uncommon for “short close” to be one of the offer points that help a buyer “win” in multiple offers. When they do not honor one of the key points of why they were selected over the other buyers who made an offer, it becomes more of an issue than simply “late closing”. That is likely one reason it triggered a dramatic response. i.e. “we picked you even though your offer was the same as Buyer #2, because you offered a faster close than buyer #2”. When that faster close does not materialize, it can cause the agents to feel duped, especially if it was something you did or did not do in the first week that caused the delay. If you took the full 5 of your allowed days to choose your lender and start the process…that would be contractually correct and at the same time very wrong, as it leads to not being finished in the allotted time that you promised.

    Another thing you might have done is told the lender not to order the appraisal until after the Home Inspection was satisfied, causing a delay in the loan as a result. There are many possible things a buyer may do to cause that 2 day delay, and something they do in the first week of the contract. If it closes on time, no one cares. If it doesn’t…they deem it to be “your fault”.

    This is why “the contract” on paper and it’s terms are not in the end run as important as “the meeting of the minds” at time of acceptance. Yes…by any lawyer’s interpretation of the contract, you were fully within your rights to maybe take all five days to apply for your loan. At the same time you were not “acting in good faith” to close on time when doing so.

    You are absolutely correct that agents are more all inclusive vs contract specific as to the obligations of a buyer and or seller, because we look at the Big Picture and not merely the paper. Your accusation that an agent interprets things much differently from a lawyer are spot on…but I say rightly so, and still say that is why agents are better than lawyers when it comes to real estate transactions as a whole and not mere the contract on which we place that “meeting of the minds” as to its detail and fine points. The over-riding consideration is that seller took your offer over other people’s offers based on your close date, among other considerations.

    The agents feel as if they did something wrong to help yours “win” based somewhat on a “fast close date” when that close date does not materialize or they perceive the buyer did not do everything possible, not at the 11th hour, but from day one of the contract, to do their very best so that it would close on time. What could you have done from day one to SAVE two days time that you did not do, like apply for your loan on day one vs day 5 (as permitted under the terms of the contract).

    Yes…agents look at the Total Picture…and not merely the detail of the contract…in that you are absolutely correct. We look at how the actions of the people match the integrity of the contract as to what it means in total…and not merely as to its specifics.

    If you want someone to say “he had 5 days and he took 5 days…no harm no foul” vs “you had less than 30 days to close and you pushed it sideways when you didn’t apply for your loan in the shortest amount of time vs the 5 days allowed by contract”, then YES…indeed, you should hire a lawyer vs an agent. Your conclusion is correct.

    I would have not been happy if I helped you get a property based on a 25 day close and you did not accelerate your speed of doing things to match that “promise” to the Listing Agent and seller to close in a shorter time than normally allowed. Yes…the Agent for the Seller likely should have crossed out that 5 days and put 1 or 2 instead. Perhaps they should have written in all of the things you would have to adjust in that contract to close in less than 30 days. But real estate OFTEN relies on the integrity of the participants to do what they say they will do.

    That is why I still say there is something you did, somewhere, somehow, that created the late closing. Otherwise the agents would not be angry with you vs the lender. It could be something you thought was quite normal and appropriate…but not for a less than 30 day close where you won in multiple offers with that close date as one of the reasons why you “won the bid”. When the offers are very close to one another…a promise to close even merely 2 days early could have been the deciding factor. How duped one feels when that “promise to close on X day” does not materialize, moreso in multiple offers, than in a single offer transaction.

      • Lee,

        I had a transaction this year where not only the Listing Agents, but several agents in town, acted out in a deplorable fashion, much as you describe (except no garbage in the kitchen). I of course buffered my clients from this for the most part, and so they have no story like yours as a result. I took all the heat with grace and aplomb. Every time my clients got a slight hint of the heat from the fire, I calmly explained away why there was friction. The friction never touched them. That is what I view as my job. I cannot prevent these things from happening, but I can be the buffer between them and my client. No easy feat most times.

        The Listing Agent’s husband (they were co-listers of the property) called me one evening at past 9 p.m. and ranted and raved and screamed at me. I was shaking, Lee. I am a tough cookie, and I was shaking from the abuse. I calmly stated that me and my clients had done nothing wrong and that he needed to calm down and deal with whatever was creating this reaction…because it clearly was not me or my clients.

        My nice clients did absolutely nothing wrong…except “win” the house BEFORE any other buyers and their agents had a chance to even make an offer. Well, they could have been as fast as us, but they thought they had all weekend because there were Saturday and Sunday Open Houses scheduled. Some agents had clients who wanted to see it right away but their agent talked them into waiting until the Open House on the weekend.

        I on the other hand texted my clients the day it listed…on Thursday before the holiday weekend, and said, “I am going to this house right now…meet me there if you can, but I think this is a great New Listing and I’m heading over there “right now!” My clients left work and ran over to meet me.

        We basically “swooped in and stole the prize” right out from under everyone’s noses. By doing it that way, and basically holding the seller and seller’s agent’s feet to the fire by bringing an offer within hours of it being listed, and giving them a short response time of before the holiday weekend (it was listed on Thursday, we brought the offer on Thursday and required a response by Friday). I was also able to convince the seller’s agent why my client should not even have to pay full price. We had an escalation clause in case someone got an offer in “with” us, but I made a compelling case for why my clients should not pay full price if there were no other offers in hand, even though it was clear my clients were willing to pay more than the asking price. Guess what…my clients got the house by Friday night for LESS than the asking price. We were elated.

        I’ll tell you Lee, all hell broke lose as a result. Everyone’s heads were spinning because we pounced. The fallout was unbelievable from every corner of the town. Massive screaming meemies everywhere I turned. LOL!

        I went to the property at 1 on Saturday (offer accepted Friday night) and the Listing Agent was having the Open House instead of cancelling it and putting a note on the door saying “property in escrow…Open House cancelled”. I never put up “Sold Strips” to advertise that I sold a property. It’s not my style. I only do it when it serves my client’s best interest for me to do it, which is almost never. There is much “psychology” to the sign placements. But that’s another topic for another post. πŸ™‚

        I had my partner staple the SOLD Strip ON the sign, as we are permitted to do under MLS rules, as an outward sign to Open House attendees that this was MY Client’s home in escrow. I went in the house with my clients and the Listing Agent and I watched as my partner, Kim, stapled the Sold Strip. No objections from the Listing Agent at all. She was a bit surprised, yes, but she did not mention any objection to our doing that. Our clients had the right to post this notice that they had an accepted contract on this house.

        Not only did OTHER Agents (none of their freaking business, I say) call the MLS to report “a violation” (which was not a violation) they called the SELLER of the home (who was out of town) to report said erroneous “violation”. The MLS even had meetings after the Holiday Weekend to determine if they should in the future make it a violation given the number of complaint calls they received over the Holiday Weekend, They determined NO, that it was not and would not in the future be a violation for an Agent for the Buyer to put up a Sold Strip when the contract was accepted and before the Home Inspection.

        Because of the calls the Agents made, many calls, to the out of town seller (totally against every rule in the book to do that BTW) the Seller wanted to cancel the contract. She got the impression that she could have gotten way more for the house from all of these screaming meemie agents…in fact I’m sure she was told by them that their buyers would have paid more. At the very least, she realized she could have gotten $10,000 more, because that was the cap on our escalation clause that my clients did not have to pay because our offer was accepted before there were any other offers.

        So now the seller deems she could have gotten at least $10,000 more for the house, and she was probably right about that. Oh well, too late, we won that play.

        When the seller was digging up every possible excuse to cancel the contract she was freaking out at her agents, that is what prompted the husband to call me and freak out at me for no good reason and have me shaking and scared and almost in tears. Me who NEVER cries except at happy things. LOL!

        The long and the short of it is I am not making excuses for the agents in your case or mine above. Crazy people sometimes. What I’m saying is I have been in this business for 21 years and have had all kinds of agents and yes, even lawyers, freak out like mad animals.

        For me…it’s part of my job to be the buffer. Your agent didn’t handle that well…for sure. I would NEVER let my client in the house at closing without first going through it myself alone. I would have found that garbage and quietly removed it and NEVER would have told my client about it. My clients were pretty much unaware…and I made excuses for the heat they slightly noticed…just as I did with you above. That is how we keep the calm. We come up with potentially rational reasons why people may be acting like whackos. πŸ™‚

        I do not mean to blame you for what happened any more than what happened in my case could be blamed on my clients. I simply wanted all the facts, and I very much appreciate your responses. I took the time to note what MAY have happened for the benefit of other people reading this in the hope they may learn a thing or two as a result of the exchange with you. That is why I blog, and so I used the opportunity to educate the readers to the Nth degree.

        I very much appreciate your allowing me to bounce off your “Case Study”. I will never know what happened between the seller and the seller’s agents in my scenario above…or yours. I can only be glad that my clients “won the prize” as did you, because at the end of the day…that is my job and all the mess in between is forgotten.

        Real Estate transactions can be like having a baby…at the end of the day holding and loving the baby is all that matters…and the pain it took to get there…is of little consequence.

  31. Ardell-
    I also appreciate the discussion. In my line of work, feedback is a gift- even when it isn’t necessarily positive. in this case, I want those of you who are passionate about your work and integrity to understand what your fellow agents might be doing as it reflects on all of you.

    The quick closing and an extra $7000 over asking were what got us the house. We had an escalation clause that beat the other offer by $1500. The quicker closing was at the request of the sellers. Our lender thought it could be done, the agents were all for it and there was some initial discussion to the effect that it would be OK if the date slipped.

    But that was all before the Selling Agent began having regrets about her pricing. And we did not tell the Lender to delay the appraisal – I didn’t even know you could do that.

    The delay was due to paperwork that the lender thought he faxed somewhere that didn’t make it. He took full responsibility and offered to pay the per diem if the seller demanded it. So no shady motives that I can see.

    Our feeling is that we did everything by the book, were sorry when the delay hit and earnestly worked to make things right. That being said, we didn’t think “making it right” included giving up.

    • I answered this above vs below. Bottom line is when a transaction does not close on time, there are consequences. I’m glad it all worked out for you.

  32. Yes, Lee, I agree you had an unprofessional experience. It’s one of many stories that people have to tell. It happens.

    You were two days late? Come on, it happens. Lender error? Come on, that was a given.

    The comments on this thread, and the way your agent, and the other agent responded is the real problem. Over on the Seattle Bubble the same questions you asked were fodder for more Real Estate Broker antics, with the usual suspects chiming in.

    You had a good transaction where the buyer, and seller were hindered by the agents involved. The solution is a grievance that should be filed. You should have the right to go after the commission dollars, you, and the seller, paid.

    • I have had at least two transactions where the seller directed their agent to find any excuse to not close because they thought they could relist it and sell it for more. Of course the violation was that in one case the agent told me this. She should not have “shared that” with me. In that case the owner had not only picked the Asking Price, but written it into the contract. So he had no one to blame for that price and the scenario was much the same as Lee’s.

      The one thing I knew was…we could not give the seller an excuse meaning we could NOT be “late”. No seller has to grant an extension.

      While the sellers acquiesced, I did not read Lee’s paraphrase of what they said to indicate that they were not putting pressure on their agent all along. I see little or no issue with the agent for the seller in this. As to the agent for the Buyer just giving up and “quitting”, all an agent for the buyer can do is ask for an extension. If the seller won’t grant it, the contract does not provide for an extension.

      It always ends up in a big fight if the buyer wants an extension and the seller won’t grant one. Usually the buyer wins if it is a day or two. But the seller does have the buyer over a barrel if they don’t close on time.

      There is no reason why the agent for the buyer would “quit” other than they didn’t have a legal leg to stand on when the seller side said “no extension”. As to the bag of garbage…that’s just odd and no way to prove who the heck did that. It’s so odd my guess is it had a reasonable explanation somehow, or someone could clearly come up with a reasonable explanation if an action was pursued. An action over a bag of garbage later tossed in the trash can…well, most people have better things to do with their time.

      Even filing a claim because you were called the B word can turn into a “yes he did…no I didn’t” meaningless “hearing”.

      What is actionable in this? In my experience this ALWAYS happens when someone asks for an extension BEFORE Loan Docs are in. That is why you wait until the docs are in, even if it is the day of closing, and ask for the extension to cover signing and recording.

      Yes…it was two days, but I’ll bet you dollars to donuts (because I have seen it OFTEN) that when they ASKED for the extension, they had no SOLID basis for it being ONLY two days. It makes no sense for anyone to care as long as docs are in, and if docs were NOT in at the time they asked…it likely would not have closed in two days.

      I have had agents for the buyer ask for an extension the day after signed contract! Excuse me? I think someone made an idiot move here, likely the agent for the buyer. I think the agent for the buyer told lots of the things to the agent for the seller to scare the bejeebies out of the seller side from way back in the beginning. That is why I often argue with you about the comaraderie of agents. “Loose LIPS sink ships”.

      Now we have a buyer who picked that agent who likely created the mess “because he/she met them in an Open House and they seemed OK”.

      Given the time and thought and consideration given to the Agent Selection process…well, there you go. You get what you get. Did Lee also grab any old body and offer her 20% of the commission so he could keep 80%? Not saying he did, but why would any agent want to “quit”. Usually because what they are being paid is not worth the aggravation of the moment. How do you know he wasn’t paying his buyer agent $500 bucks?

      If the buyer grabbed an agent on a $400,000 purchase and said “I did all the work, so I’m keeping $10,000 and you can have $2,000” would you blame the agent for giving a $2,000 effort vs a $12,000 effort?

      Just saying…we do not draw conclusions AGAINST our peers without all the facts. On the other hand, if we are specifically aware of a DIRECT violation, like fraud, even the suspicion of fraud, of a peer we are obligated to report that.

      So tell me where is the violation, David. The bag of garbage that one cannot prove who put it there and why it was there? Someone dropping a B word? Where is your point of complaint?

      Buyer’s Loan was late…Buyer could not meet the closing date…After much difficulty and stress in the “late phase” people went a bit whacko, Buyer closed after the closing date. Done. = Everyday Real Estate

      • Worth noting for readers, one of the things the Buyer Agent does is make a strong case for you in hairy situations. The Agent for the Seller is relying on the Agent for the Buyer’s level of competence and strong relationship with their Buyer Client. Many a multiple offer is based on that vs price and terms. The on the ball agent who knows their client well and in control often can win in multiple bids without the best offer.

        So when you grab any old body at the last minute who doesn’t know you from Adam, you can end up in this scenario as the agent not knowing you well at all can hurt you if situations get a bit stressed. Agent + Agent for the Buyer is a relationship much like Lawyer and Client.

        Grabbing an agent 10 minutes before an offer almost always goes sideways. It’s like hiring a lawyer 10 minutes before the Trial begins. A big freaking train wreck unless the lawyer can get a continuance or the Agent can get an extension. If the Judge does not grant the continuance or the Seller does not grant the extension…well there you go. THAT is the crucial factor and there is nothing the “last minute hired representative” can do about it. BUT someone you hired responsibly, in the same situation, who knows you well enough to “make your case” might have had a completely different level of communication at the last minute late in this case.

        It all goes back to choosing your agent wisely. If you admit you hired someone you thought was MERELY and MAYBE “OK”, well then…sorry. That is where the problem started.

        MANY a buyer thinks they don’t need a good agent…until they are in the wrong room with the wrong agent. Then they KNOW all of a sudden WHY they did in fact need a good one.

        When things get “hotly contested” as they often do when the you need an extension past closing date, and your agent has to honestly say “I have no clue because I met this guy once at an Open House and that’s all I knew about him when I wrote the offer”, good luck getting an extension.

  33. As long as we just just became attorneys by some osmosis? let’s just say that both the buyer, and seller had monetary consideration. Buyer, and seller entered into an “agreement.” We can save the contract blather for another post.

    Buyer, and seller are hindered in the closing of a Real Estate transaction by both agents, according to Lee being told by both agents the deal was dead.

    I don’t care how many stories you have, I have more, it doesn’t change the facts presented here.

    The buyer feels slighted, the seller may not care, but the buyer should, let me repeat the word should, have a place to air the grievance, and the commission should be contested.

    There are more than the two agents here. There is the buyer, and seller. The buyer and seller have an agreement. If the agents, in facts presented, interfered with a Real Estate transaction in progress, they should be fined, and forfeit the commission.

    I think I could argue that case, but then again, I’m not an attorney.

    • David…read the contract and quote me what happens when the buyer does not close or the seller does not close ON TIME. Find me evidence it is NOT “dead” before you call that a “violation” of some kind. TRUTH is not a violation…no matter how much you don’t want to hear that truth.

  34. I think it is incongruent to say on one hand that one shouldn’t draw conclusions about fellow agents and then almost in the same breath say to me “you shouldn’t have chosen that agent”. Isn’t that drawing a conclusion against that agent by saying he was so bad that the Customer shouldn’t have picked him?

    And again, why is the existence of TWO substandard agents the Customer’s fault? I can’t pick the Selling Agent.

    If it is still ONLY my fault as the Customer, then clearly the title of Real Estate Professional has minimal to no meaning and shouldn’t be automatically worth 3% of any transaction. There should be a review before that money is awarded or a forum for the Customer to bring their facts and challenge the commissions. And for the record, yes our Agent got the full 3%.

    To me the issue here isn’t why someone left a bag of garbage in the house or that they called me the B-word. At a micro level, if that had been the only thing that happened, then big deal.

    But from a larger perspective, that IS really unprofessional and if that is considered excusable behavior by that agent’s peers, then to me that is indicative of an industry in decay. I remember an old family friend who was an Agent (in the 80’s) when I was growing up. Things were pretty tough for RE back then with interest rates over 12%, inflation, etc. Her behavior and comportment under stress was something to aspire to, not avoid.

    To me Ardell’s story about an agent’s husband tearing into her (over just doing her job) so badly that she was shaken is a huge red flag that something is wrong. In corporate workplaces that behavior; whether towards coworkers or clients, would be considered ‘creating a hostile environment’ and people regularly get fired for that, not get rewarded with a 3% commission and the opportunity to screw with someone else.

    And Ardell- you shouldn’t have to take that from anyone for simply doing your job. I know you’re a tough cookie, but it’s not OK. People are buying homes to live in and raise their families; the transaction is not about saving burning babies, chasing bad guys or fighting wars; there really doesn’t need to be any terrorizing or screaming… Ridiculous! People who carry on like that need to get over themselves.

    The larger issue to me is that the lack of professionalism and lack of knowledge about the correct way to handle the process in our scenario actually stood to interfere with a Real Estate transaction.

    If the transaction had failed, (and it would have if the Buyer and Seller hadn’t done an end-around via the neighbor) it would have monetarily harmed both Buyer and Seller since we both had real skin in the game. Agents may not get paid for their time and that is a consequence, but that is not the same thing as losing money out of pocket.

    It bothers me that there don’t appear to be any consequences or believable venue to report agent misconduct either. In the case of using an attorney, a client can file a grievance which leads to an investigation. If the attorney is found to have committed misconduct, there are disciplinary actions and the Client may also receive monetary compensation. It is a serious thing and attorneys in general take it seriously.

    To me, that alone may be a reason it would be better to use an attorney as a Buyer. With the amount of money at stake in RE, it seems to me that there needs to be more in place to protect RE Clients than there is today.

    Again, I appreciate the discussion and the opinions of those in this forum even if we may ultimately disagree.

    • You’ve raised so many good points here, that I wouldn’t be able to adress them in a comment section of a blog.

      Attorneys are held to a higher standard. This is a point that I have raised to Craig many times.

      Puffery, the things we say off hand about a property, the gushy kind of stuff, is acceptable for a Real Estate agent where an attorney should be more percise, more grounded in fact, because, in my opinion, an attorneys words should carry more weight. That’s just an example, my opinion, it’s not really a discussion, it’s just an example.

      You raised an excellent point that you can bring an attorney up before the bar for a review of their conduct. Real Estate agents may belong to the Multiple Listing Services, but the role there is to fine people, rather than resolve anything.

      Now the point that I was making, and you reinforced, is that the Real Estate transaction is between the buyer, and seller. The agents are there to work in your best interest. It wasn’t in your best interest, from what you described, to kill the deal. They interfered.

      All that being said you do have the right to go to small claims court to present your evidence. People have done that in many years past, when the commission dollars were a little less than they are today. Now there is a lot of saber rattling, and talk of attorneys, but nothing much ever comes from that.

      Your main point is very well taken by me that the system is desperate. As much as the Real Estate powers that be have tried to elevate the profession from where it was in the 1980s, with the education, with the requirements, with the new Brokerage models, the system has gotten much worse in many, many ways.

      • David,

        You have apparently never met a top notch “litigator”. The dramatics can be theatrics and it’s all about winning the game.

        “There’s blood in the streets” is a common term for bad markets. In a good market everyone is smiling. In a bad one there is a lot more freaking out and craziness. Just goes with the territory.

        Same happened in my former business…you didn’t want to be in my office on Black Friday. Most of the MBA Professionals LOST IT that day. It’s easy to be calm…when things are calm.

      • You have a blog? πŸ™‚

        David…you can take anything you want anytime. I am not “proprietary” in the least. If you can use it for something…you can have it and have at it.

    • Lee said: “I think it is incongruent to say on one hand that one shouldn’t draw conclusions about fellow agents and then almost in the same breath say to me β€œyou shouldn’t have chosen that agent

        • There is no “point” to be “missed”, David. Because we only have one side of a 4 part story. We don’t have the seller’s or two agent’s viewpoints on the matter. That is often the case in a real estate transaction We only have “our perspective” and there is often a lot of surmising.

          Without all the facts, and with a good conclusion, it is best to surmise that everyone had a very good reason for what they did or did not do, as most people do. I still find it hard to believe that an agent would drag a bag of garbage into a house “on spite”. Since bags of garbage in houses is not an unusual thing…there are many more rational explanations for that happening.

          When someone took a crap on the altar in church…well, that was on spite, because you don’t normally find crap on altars. But finding a bag of “garbage” in a kitchen is pretty much an every day event at most homes in America.

  35. Regarding the property in this post that I listed on Wednesday, I printed 100 color flyers on Wednesday and I already need more. Great Open House today!

    I don’t think I’ve ever gone through almost 100 flyers in less than a week before.

  36. When someone tells a story of an agent who did something wrong to make a lot of money it just seems more credible than TWO agents doing something wrong so they would BOTH make NOTHING. Something just isn’t right there.

    I think Lee even called that “greedy”. How can making nothing be “greedy”? How likely would this seller rehire the same agent to sell that house again? Seems like a big misunderstanding to me.

    • Again David…what are anyone’s “rights” when a sale does not close on the close date? The complaint is they “quit”, which I really think means there was not a happy answer to what happens next? There never is. It closed two days later, so how prolonged of a problem could it have been? Yes…it almost didn’t close. That is true of all extension situations that don’t close on the closing date.

      For you to suggest otherwise is unprofessional. All buyers need to know that the seller does not “have to” extend the close date. Even Craig, the lawyer, had a hissy fit when he couldn’t get an extension for his buyer client from the seller and there seemed to be nothing he could do about it that day. He was so upset he wrote a post about “PERIL”. So yes…it is a scary you can lose your Earnest Money moment whether you have a lawyer or not. It’s just the facts of the situation.

      Not closing on time means your Earnest Money is in jeopardy. That a buyer got mad and scared at that message is not “a violation”. Someone has to state the facts, and that was the appropriate fact to relay to the client.

      Shoot the messenger (of truth)??? Really?

  37. Just saw this on Google+ and had to quote it here to demonstrate how “common” this is…

    Agent update on Google+: “You know those days where you want to have a group meeting with your buyers, the sellers, the lender and the closing company to chew some butt and get everyone in line? Yep, today is one of those days.”

    Usually the butt chewing happens EARLY enough in the transacton so that it is NOT late to closing. However, “butt chewing” is often an integral part of at least 50% of Residential Real Estate Transactions.

    Maybe Commercial Transactions as well. I just don’t work in that field.

    That everyone is playing nicey, nicey professional, oh well, no problem, no sweat, everyone is calm and happy…in Residential Real Estate…is a Fairy Tale. It does happen once in awhile, but moreso in a strong “bubble” market than a weak one. It’s one of the signs that we are in a bad market.

    We know a bad market is coming when volume is the same, but getting things closed involves higher emotional levels. We know the market is going South before the data proves it out, by the level of tension among all the participants. It becomes twice as hard to do the same work…just before the market crashes. And it stays harder until the market turns around again.

    True, the butt chewing and ranting and raving is often down without the buyer and seller knowing it, but it is there even when things appear to go very smoothly. It is part of our job to make it LOOK easy…until and unless it does not close by the closing date. Then the jig is up. That is why I tend to freak out days before closing, as noted in the Google+ update of another “smart” agent.

  38. To address a few of your points:

    I responded several posts up clarifying what we did to choose our agent–not as simplistic as you are implying. We had a good “getting to know each other” session with him and he had been recommended by 2 coworkers. And we took at least a week to discuss, get aligned and formulate our approach to the offer.
    Line 4 of the Finance Contingency says (I’m paraphrasing) if the Buyer is unable to obtain a Loan after a good faith effort, then the agreement terminates and the EM is refunded to the Buyer. In our case, that is what happend- we were unable to obtain a loan in time for the mutually agreed upon time of Closing after a good faith effort on our part.

    The Lender sent both Agents a lenghty email (followed up by phone calls to each of them) explaining that the loan had not funded, described EXACTLY what the admin error was, verified that we had sufficient funds to close and that we had done everything correctly and on time. He went to describe what steps he was taking in order to ensure that the loan would fund in the extra 2 says requested.

    So yes, the agreement was terminated and the only reason we were able to repair the deal is that the Seller graciously still wanted to move forward. But my point is that our EM was not AUTOMATICALLY and irrevocably forfeit as the agents both claimed. Both their Brokers agreed with that interpretation and very supportive to have the deal move forward if the Seller agreed- I doubt they would have done that if the Agents’ interpretation of the situation was correct or if we were somehow “Bad Buyers” as you continue to imply.

    I think if we had used an attorney in this transaction, they would have warned us that the EM ‘could’ be contested, depending on how the Sellers responded, but they wouldn’t have just handed us the paperwork and told us to sign and give up as if that was the only answer. They also would have fought a lot harder than our agent did to prevent that from happening.

    Regarding the F-bombing outside of truck stops, strip joints and bad 80’s movies about business deals: I served in the military where that sort of language was common too – however those of us who were more successful understood that was our ‘internal’ dialogue and not necessarily appropriate or wise to drop on the C.O. or civilians. (kind of like how we teach children that there is an “inside” and “outside” voice…)

    If that’s the Internal RE dialogue and you’re OK with it, then good for you. But nobody is’entitled’ to treat a client/customer that way. I’d challenge you to find any company or industry that regularly treated its customers poorly and survived once there was competition on the horizon.

    I agree with you that the Sellers probably had some choice words for us – but they kept that “internal” to their team and communicated a more mature version of their feelings externally.

    Based on discussions with friends and coworkers who have recently bought or sold homes, I can tell you loud and clear that your RE Customers do NOT want to be dropping roughly a half million dollars on a home and committing significant chunks of cash to the transaction, only to have to listen to somone throwing trucker terminology around because they can’t handle the stress they are being paid to handle.

    They also don’t want their agents to mis-understand a contingency that puts their $$ at risk and then see them be corrected by their Brokers. Sure, things may turn out OK in the end. But it’s not impressive, doesn’t build trust and is not the level of professionalism we expect for the money being paid.

    And based on your response, I’m not sure that you understand that regardless of any resonable explanation (whether incorrect or correct) you can theorize for what happened, the Perception of the “professionals” in your industry is sinking. You sound like a great agent and I wouldn’t question that you are worth every penny, but your industry has too many overpaid Yahoos in it to command the respect it once had.

    And that is why many of us will consider the alternative methods to selling or buying our next house. Yes, an attorney could certainly also lose their cool and throw an F-Bomb. But more importantly, if that same attorney was actually remiss in their duties, then there is a process in place (unlike the RE industry) to protect the clients and discipline the attorney. And (at least today) the client is paying less than 3% for that service and protection.

    And no, finding a smelly bag of garbage in the middle of a kitchen of a vacant house that was previously spotless a few days prior is not a ‘usual’ event- unless you believe in fairies. (or in this case maybe it was a Troll)

    • Lee,

      When blogging, I try to bounce off your scenario in a way that will shed some light on some basic principals, generally speaking, that other people need to know about the process who are not in your immediate and specific scenario.

      If you were not talking about a home you already purchased, I would be more focused on what you should do than what people should do generally. The only decision for you now is whether to try to take someone’s real estate license away for what transpired in your scenario. I don’t think you should…and noted some of the reasons why.

      I empathize with you…I do. I just see many worse things that are reportable offenses.

      I will share this with you since you are so level headed in a way I RARELY see, and very much appreciate. I once called the mls to report several companies that were calling the owners of Redfin listed property and asking the owners to fire Redfin and hire them. I called to report that violation of mls rules. It is a $5,000 fine to solicit the listing of a listed property. I am not generally a “whistle blower” but I thought a notice needed to be sent that “Alternative Models” get the same good treatment as the Big Companies, and obviously many agents were treating “Alternative Models” as if the rules did not apply.

      Guess what…I was threatened during that call that the violation would be held against ME and no one else. WHAT? They said in their experience, the person who reports a violation are themselves the violator. WHAT? Talk about discouraging complaints! OMG! It will be a cold day in hell when I try to help educate from within again. I do it from without, by writing blog posts. πŸ™‚

      I am sure many of your friends, and David, and everyone over at Seattle Bubble will give you all the empathy and “You GO BOY (or GIRL)” that you need and if this were happening to you right now, I would step in and help. But it’s water under the bridge now. A bag of garbage and a B word in the past. Both hard to prove as to intent and he said she said as well. Neither a basis for not paying the commission, since the seller paid it via contract law, so no, I don’t agree with David that if you closed on the house, someone won’t get paid if you complain or that you will get a dime in response to your complaint.

      You can check with an attorney, but I don’t think you have a case. We do not have “employers” in this business to “complain to” as to behavior issues, generally speaking. We all most all “self-employed” people, except for Redfin and maybe a few others I don’t know about who pay agents a salary.

      So the “offense” has to be against an mls rule or license law…and I don’t see that in this case. If you had not closed, you would NOT have “lost” your Earnest Money EVEN IF that was the contractual conclusion. Escrow will NOT give the seller the Earnest Money unless you SIGN the form giving it to the seller. So even if that was the end of the game…and everyone quit…your money would be in escrow, not in the seller’s hands. Earnest Money “at risk” does not mean “lost”. It just means there is more to getting it back then “here you go!”. Both the buyer and seller need to release it to one party or the other.

      So even if your loan totally failed, I do think your Earnest Money may have been “in jeopardy”. I don’t know…know one does…as we don’t know the number of days in the blank in your Finance Contingency as to how long you had or if the seller gave you written notice on that day to cancel or remove that contingency. There’s a lot more to the finance contingency than the boilerplate. One of those blanks could have had 14 days…or 30 days…and the seller may or may not have acted as needed to keep your Earnest Money.

      But I didn’t go into that because you closed…all’s well that ends well as they say…and there was slim to no chance the seller COULD keep your Earnest Money if they had quit. Clearly not without your agreeing to let them have it.

      But all that is not in this story…because you closed.

      There is a reason why you “look at property with an agent” and do not hire them just before contract, when and if possible, whether that be a day or a week or many conversations. The relationship of Agent and Buyer forms during the looking…it builds as we get to know one another, not just an “offer strategy”.

      So my answer to Agent or Lawyer is if you are hiring someone to “write an offer”, then a lawyer is better if that is the purpose of hiring someone. If you are at the house you want to buy, go grab a lawyer, not an agent, and if you do grab an agent at that point, don’t pay them more than you would pay a lawyer. I think the right agent can be more helpful than a lawyer during the Home Inspection phase, but contract to close for someone you don’t know from Adam is often a .5% to 1% service, not a 3% service. Still…the seller and mls system agrees to pay, and not you unless you arrange that before the offer is written.

      Lots and lots of things in your scenario. But a bag of garbage, a B word and a Quit at didn’t close on closing date…none are “reportable offenses” against any mls rule or licensing law. A reason not to do that again…a reason to pick a good agent early in the process…or not. Yes. But monetary damage? None that I can see, so no lawsuit as David suggested. You get to Court, and the contract will be the seller paying “your agent” not you…so that case is dead in the water. Ask a lawyer…but I think David’s advice to go to small claims court is ridiculous as you likely had no written commission agreement with your agent at all.

      I appreciate your giving us some awesome detail with which to educate the masses, and that is to the purpose I have responded. As to you, as I have said again and again, I am sorry this happened to you and I’m glad you closed and all ended well for you. The rest is just a story…not a reportable “offense”.

      My $.02 and a Big Fat THANK YOU for sharing!

  39. Question Lee…Did you use the lender your agent recommended or one of the ones she knew? Did your agent have direct access to your loan officer to stay up to speed on the loan process and where it was and wasn’t throughout the escrow from day one?

  40. Pingback: Do you need a “fancy” Flyer to SELL a house? | Rain City Guide

  41. Thanks for the comments Ardell-

    My intent was to air an issue both to see what the members here thought of it and to help others who may read it learn from our experience. And also to explain why I thought that similar behavior may cause Customers to gravitate away from the Standard Agent offering- say towards an attorney service (like WaLaw) or rebate oriented service (like RedFin). And I know there are worse offenses out there, which if my story bothers people, then those scenarios probably further my point.

    Hubby and I already tossed the idea around of filing a complaint, but since we closed and didn’t actually lose any money, we didn’t really believe it would go anywhere and would (as your own experience showed) draw us more fire and drama than we need right now.

    This whole thing was a “near miss” and we’ll chalk it up to a learning experience. If the transaction had failed and we lost our EM however, we’d have an altogether different attitude (ie. combative as heck).

    In regards to the Lender, we had previously established a relationship with one on our own. However, our Agent had worked with that Lender before and expressed no concerns about them. And yes, he had direct access to our Lender. When that document went missing, our Lender called him first and then us immediately afterwards. We were on our way to pick up the Cashier’s check for the down payment and then were heading to the Closing appt., so you can understand how committed we were at that point.

    • I received an email that I will turn into a post after a get permission from the sender that highlights that yes indeed, it is HARD to find a decently good agent. I only hear that from my clients once they find me as I am not looking for a good agent. πŸ™‚

      I DO believe that if the industry doesn’t change the way it trains agents…and give that a dramatic “do-over” as to representing buyers WELL…AND representing sellers better, that the industry should die out. Not “will”, but in fact “should”.

      I don’t defend my industry here, Lee. In fact most days I think we should bury them all in a big black pit and fuhgeddabout them.

      But I do not give up hope because agents ask me all the time if I will Mentor them or if they can “shadow” me. So I know that many are STARVING for better training and better direction, with NO place to GET “it”. I know that NAR and the Brokerages and the Agency LAW and the Department of Licensing is grossly “missing the mark”.

      BUT I do not, honestly and genuinely do not, believe the answer is to scrap the whole idea and let’s get lawyers and/or other cheap alternatives to lock in “bad practices”. Maybe that is the only answer…I will grant you that. But I see too many agents wishing to BE better…to give up on more being ABLE to be better.

      The goal of Alternative Models is to be “a hair better than the worst of us”. I don’t like that answer as the solution.

      Does that make any sense? Am I spitting into the wind on that?

    • There is an RCW that says once a transaction closes, and is recorded that’s the end of it. That is a two edge sword. Brokerages rely on it and work toward closing. Buyers, and sellers, along with attorneys some times, or could delay closing if they feel slighted.

      I just want to thank you for your comments here. Your conclusion to use a WA Law, or redfin misses the mark in my opinion, because they are all the same.

      We do run into agents, like we did today, who are a hinderance to a Real Estate transaction. Buyers and sellers know what they want, know what they want to do, and they just need help. There should be a business model for that free from the sales aspect, or incorporating sales in a professional manner.

      • That may describe your clients, David, but it does not describe mine at all. “Buyers and sellers know what they want, know what they want to do, and they just need help.”

        Buyers and Sellers who already know all that usually don’t need to hire an agent at all. There are many lower cost alternatives for people who already know everything there is to know about what they want and what they want to do. Those people should not be hiring agents.

        • I was describing the people we met today. The agent is hindering the listing, I guess, by trying to look busy so they can “earn” the fee.

          The house needed to be on the market three weeks ago, but that may have appeared too easy for the commission asked for. The house, and the agreed price, is a bargain. It’s in great shape. All the big hand movements and nonsense the agent is putting the sellers through is just for show. The agent is bringing nothing to the table other than to list the property.

          Is that fair?

          • hmmm…I don’t know what you’re talking about. I guess you had to be there. So you have a buyer who wants to buy it? Why are you not writing an offer then? How is the hands waving in the air agent preventing you from writing an offer?

            I’m confused. πŸ™

  42. Nope, you’re not a Wind Spitter! I hear you. πŸ™‚

    But even if you believe they are only a hair better than the status quo, I think the competition is good – particularly when an industry needs a shake-down. Reacting to other models’ successes and failures may help everyone understand how and where they need to be better- maybe it will drive change.

    Anytime there is a “bubble” in any industry, the Yahoos pour in and succeed with very little skill because there is so much business to go around. Then when the party’s over, they just get in everyone’s way. The same happened in the tech industry back in the 90’s & we’ve spent the last decade weeding out the fools that got in.

    Options may also help the industry evolve by offering more tailored services to clients that want it. If you want an attorney to help you buy a house, there’s an option. If you want discount service, another option. If you want the full monty RE experience, yet another option.

    To me, none of the currently offered models are systemically “better” than the others- its more a matter of Client preference and then execution. Ie., do you get the services you are paying for? Right now, I think the Standard RE crew is faltering on that aspect & getting kicked around a bit by services like WaLaw and/or RedFin because of that.

    • Answering from iPad on way to appointment…so will look a little “choppy”

      Not a hair better than the status quo, a hair better than the least of my brethren. πŸ™‚

      People tend to find the least because the least are more in the public view because they need a client more because they don’t deserve to have one at all. You met an agent at an open house…if it wasn’t that agent’s listing (primary lister – not “co-listing agent) that’s a big clue.

      You don’t often find the best of agents in the obvious, tripped over them, places. Sometimes…but not often.

  43. You are confused.

    Our company prepares properties for sale. We only work at the direction of the home owner. In the past we did work for, or with, Real Estate agents, but now work with a very select few.

    This owner called us two weeks ago for an appointment. The agent priced the property very competitively, it will sell quickly. It’s a Tudor, in a great neighborhood.

    The sellers are motivated. None of what the agent had them doing will help the sale of the property. It just won’t. The property is what it is, and is a good value. The sellers would have been better served by having the property on the market two weeks ago.

    Let’s take your example, and what Tim said in his first comment. For $5K on a listing my companies can do a lot with a property. My license at Skyline would let me list a property for $500, which would cover my costs.

    We have had that business model for the past ten years. The time I spent at Windermere in Greenwood in 1996 the broker asked me to choose my property repair business, or sell Real Estate. Windermere felt that my work on properties was a liability, well a lot has changed since then. My last stint with Windermere, I explained to the broker what we do, we prepare properties for sale, he said great, but it turned out the same way, they want sales production.

    As far as listing properties with Skyline Properties it is an uphill battle. Real Estate agents don’t show Skyline listings. That’s a discussion for another time.

    Lee has brought up many excellent points. I take it you think Lee should be looking for a Real Estate agent online, some one like you. It all works out to be the same thing.

    There are a many good Real Estate agents in Seattle, but it is a 24/7 job. You do need to find the agent while they are working so an Open House is an alternative.

    The system is broken. There does need to be a way for people to find a good working relationship with a Brokerage. In my opinion Skyline, today, is offering the most as a Brokerage alternative. Danforth is another excellent business model that Coldwell Banker is looking at seriously.

    It will take time to sort out what will happen next.

    • David,

      I would think Lee and others like her would agree that your Broker should not let you use a real estate license to get your foot in the door so you can sell other services for $5,000 and offer to “list” for $500 to cover your costs. People do not call us to get a contractor to find things to fix. They call us to sell their home. By your own admission, your primary goal is not to sell the house. It is to find work for your other business(es). That is not the purpose of a real estate license. No Broker should let you hang a license to that purpose.

      You have also admitted that your efforts to be a provider of Real Estate representation to buyers and or sellers of homes, sends you back to your cleaning and spruce up business. So for you to judge what others do, or don’t do, to do that better than you admittedly do, makes no sense. You freely acknowledge less than superior abilities at representing Residential Real Estate buyers and sellers (vs investors). That is true of Ray as well. A large majority of his clients are investors. That business is a different animal from Residential Real Estate as to Principal Residence vs Investment Purpose.

      From Lee’s story (before it didn’t close on time) no…I do not think she should have hired me or someone like me, because she and her husband did not want to be “2nd guessed”, from what I read, on their product selection. I had a client meeting last night “noted above”. They have already been seeing homes with an agent and narrowed it down to a choice that makes zero sense to me. I told them so and if they want to be 2nd guessed on that, they will hire me to help them make a “better” choice.

      Yes…often…people “know what they want”. They hire me to test if that is a “correct” thing TO want. In my opinion no in the instant case. Yes, they can still buy it, but then they should buy it with someone else and not hire me. If they want to be educated as to why that is not a good “want” and buy a better “want”, then they should hire me. Otherwise not.

      Anyone who thinks they know more than an agent can know, for whatever reason, should find the cheapest service they can and use that service. But I see a $100,000 loss in the not to distant future if they buy that particular “want”. Cost of service becomes negligible as to the difference in cost when it leads to a $100,000 built in loss product that will be a nightmare when and if they ever try to sell it.

      Basically I say I “may” help you buy that…but please don’t call me when and if you want to sell it. Big clue that it is a horrible choice.

      I don’t know what was best for Lee…I don’t know where and what she was buying. I do remember her saying they got tired of the agent telling them what to buy. If that was like one of my other clients who left their agent because the agent was telling him that EVERYTHING they saw was what they SHOULD buy, then I agree. But if they were tired of the agent telling them why they should NOT buy it…then no, we would not have been a good match at all. I am not the agent for someone who doesn’t want to be 2nd guessed as to their choices.

      When I am doing an Open House, I am not there to find a buyer client for other homes. I am there to represent the seller of the home. If the Open House agent is there to engage buyer clients, then they are already proving they are putting their motivations in front of those of the public they serve, that being the owner’s house they are in.

      I do two Open Houses when I first list a home so I can continue working on things that weren’t worth waiting to list for. That gives me 6 extra hours to work on the home during the Open Houses. Kim greets the people while I am working, if the work is not near the front door which is often, as anything near the front door that needs work must be done before the home goes on market. Last week I was staging the back storage closet in the basement, hit myself in the head with a pot that fell off the overfilled shelves :). That was something that could be done after the home was listed. Next week I will stage the under the staircase storage area. I keep working on and improving the house until it is sold.

      I listen while I’m working to what people are saying to one another in the Open House, so I can pick up on anything else I can do to improve the home’s chances of selling. What buyers see and say is very important. I am not there to sell the buyer any house or to “pick up buyer clients”. I am there to gather information about THIS house from those buyers, or sell it to them as the representative of the seller of the home.

      Skyline? I doubt anyone is looking at who has listed the home when looking for the right home for their client. The only time I look for the agent’s company when working with a buyer client looking at homes is when we are on the street looking for the house so I know if it is the Skyline sign or the RE/MAX sign. I don’t care who listed the property. Why would I? I also do not look at the commission when looking for the right property for my client. I do look at it before making an offer because I disclose the amount to my client. But when looking for “best house for my client”, who listed it and what the Buyer Agent fee is or is not is not a consideration. I don’t even look at that.

      I am definitely a 24/7 agent, more so than most, because my kids are grown and Kim does all the stuff other agents have to do for themselves. Kim affords me the ability to work from wake up to 2 a.m. most days, and almost all on real estate. The only time I take “off” is when I fly down to see my kids. Otherwise I’m working 24/7 because that is my nature.

      OK…what do you have left up there on your list…oh…Brokerages. There is a disconnect in your general thinking with regard to Brokerages and “discounters”. We have discussed that before. If an agent leaves a Broker to whom they are paying 30% to 50% of their commission, then to give some of that to the client, vs the Broker, is not “discounting”. If the agent does not see the value in giving that money to the Broker, as in value TO THEIR CLIENTS, than the money is better off IN the client’s hand. THAT is not “discounting”, that is common cents.

  44. Your comment is a sales pitch.

    There’s no substance there. You have no concept of my abilities, or my business model.

    You’re in a world of your own, far removed from the Real Estate business. You’re selling, which is fine, many people do Real Estate sales.

    Sales is, though, the very thing that the Real Estate industry is trying to get away from. People want professional services.

    The people I work with are professionals, some are sales professionals, and I am highly trained as a sales professional. I’ve done the Dale Carnegie, Tommy Hopkins, Barb Schwartz, Mike Ferry, and Mathew Ferry. I’ve met Brian Buffini, and owned a Real Estate Investment course that I bought in the 1980s.

    Yes, I work with investors, many are still friends.

    The thing you learn over time is that the money is made in buying real estate rather than selling it.

    Over the years I have also advocated for Home Inspections. I had Aardvark Home Inspections since 1978? I don’t really remember. At that time I was also allowed to do the repairs which lead me to my company Rot Work, with the slogan Rot Work done cheap. That was determined to be a conflict of interest.

    You have a post here about what Real Estate agents do. My company has prepared thousands of properties for sale, at the direction of some of the best Real Estate agents in the city. I also refer people to Real Estate agents. The broker at Windermere, Harry Cummings, great guy, excellent agent, excellent broker, suggested that I charge a referral fee for the properties that I refer. That also seemed like a conflict of interest to me so I don’t do that. I just refer business to agents who, in my opinion, are the best fit.

    You are missing the point that people call me. Property Owners call me from my websites, contract for my services, and while I’m there I do disclose that I am a licensed Real Estate agent.

    I do one, or the other. I can’t represent a client 24/7 when I have a business to run 24/7. Get it?

    So I have tried many things. I had a person run the cleaning, and construction company, I’ve had a net work of sub contractors. For about ten years, when I did Real Estate full time I had a painter, and carpenter who worked for me.

    When you throw out this kind of challenging post, then attack the people who comment, it’s seems like an odd way to generate business, but it works for you.

    My comments are to the point that Lee is making. A delayed closing happens. Know it all buyers happen. You seem to be calling Lee a liar or saying Lee’s concerns are trivial. That’s very harsh. When a person takes that kind of time to express an opinion about the Real Estate industry, in a very concise manner, it should be paid attention to.

    • I’ll get to that later, after I eat…but I just got back from STOPPING someone from buying a house. So no. I am not in SALES. I am in the business of representing people and helping them do the best thing for them, whether it is buying a house or not…or selling a house or not. I give my best advice regardless of what that means for me or a paycheck, David.

      You have got that ALL wrong.

    • David said: “You are missing the point that people call me. Property Owners call me from my websites, contract for my services, and while I’m there I do disclose that I am a licensed Real Estate agent.
      I do one, or the other. I can’t represent a client 24/7 when I have a business to run 24/7. Get it?”

      I get it David. Do you? You want to give real estate advice BUT you don’t want to do the job of BEING a residential real estate agent? You don’t want to devote the time and effort it takes to BE one. You just want to criticize those who do? You just want to have the license so you can mouth off about real estate?

      How does it help you in the cleaning business to have a real estate license??? How does it help the public for you to have a real estate license?

      Late closings happen, David. Your advice was inappropriate.You are not IN the business of representing buyers and sellers, day in and day out, 24/7 residential real estate. And when you did, you were better at helping investors (or so you have said) who don’t care as much about when they close or don’t close.

      People who are packing up their belongings to move out DO care. People who are giving their notice to their Landlords DO care. Lucky for Lee the sellers were already out, but Residential Real Estate is generally a ZERO TOLERANCE for LATE business. People have to hire MOVERS for a certain day, and usually two weeks in advance! Late is a BFD!

      Did you want me to be dishonest about that? There is rarely, if ever, a provision in a Residential Real Estate Contract involving a resale vs New Construction home that allows for going PAST the closing date. That IS the business of Residential Real Estate…that 24/7 business that I have been in for 21 years, and you have not. That you don’t want to do.

      You just want to hold a license so that you can speak about real estate on the internet. What other purpose do you have for having a license, David, besides annoy hardworking people who DO devote their time and efforts on a 24/7 basis? I “get” you don’t want to work at this 24/7…you just want to mouth off at those of us who do.

      • Your comments are completely inappropriate.

        We are all in the same community. We do what we do.

        You’re in Real Estate sales. That’s what you do.

        Now you want to make the claim you work harder than I do? Please, you have no idea what I do.

        • David, David, David. You just said you don’t sell real estate because you run your other business. Make up your mind. How are we “in the same community”? Because you clean houses and I sell the clean houses. You are so confusing! πŸ™‚

          • If you are even thinking of selling your home in the next three years you should consider our services. Rather than having that last minute run around from your Real Estate sales person, you should consider hiring Real Estate professionals. We can be contacted at ………

            How’s that for self promotion?

          • Whom are you quoting there, David?

            Often I think your frustration comes from trying to figure out how to promote yourself using the internet. When you go a little sideways in public in what you say, it seems to be an internal conflict of some kind.

            You seem to have this yin and yang thing going where on one hand you want to provide real estate services, and yet you don’t like and can’t come to terms with the 24/7 nature of that beast. I think you love real estate, would love to be immersed in it as I am, but just can’t find the means to do that without your other business that pays the bills.

            It’s a very odd time in real estate right now. Nothing comes easily and there is no guarantee, even if you devote that 24/7 to it, that one can survive in this business. The hardest part is telling someone they should not be buying or selling at times when you may need the money if they do buy or sell. That is clearly the hardest part of this business. Maintaining integrity is not easily done.

            I feel as you do about referral fees. That is the somewhat “ugly” part of real estate that people don’t often see first hand. There are many who try to escape the 24/7 part of the business by being “lead finders” who pass the real work on to someone else. That used to be a very lucrative business, and to some extent still is. I think that is where part of your conflict lies. Finding good agents for people to hire seems to be part of what you like to do, and yet you do that without compensation, I think some your internal struggle lies in that. I really do like you a lot and think you are sincere in your love of this profession, you just haven’t carved out your place in it…or maybe you lost the place you once had.

            That is why I am never offended by things you say when you get all riled up. There’s an honest conflict going on for you…I just can’t seem to put my finger on it.

          • Funny!

            My comments began concerning the excellent points raised by Lee.

            It has degenerated into some mass of confusion you have about Real Estate as an industry.

            You’re a sales person.

            I’m not at all riled, just fascinated. Our business is booming. 25% of our regular clients are interested in selling, all of our one time cleanings are for people preparing properties for rent or sale.

            In the Real Estate business you need multiple streams of income. Some people own rentals, I own businesses.

            The internet is real estate. I own about 250 domain names related to my businesses and Real Estate. It so happens that I organically dominate the search for house cleaning in Seattle. Marlow, and Stephanie Moe dominate the organic search for Real Estate in Seattle. I took the same tactics and applied it to one of my businesses, and viola.

            Last year I converted all of my web sites, except one, to WordPress, that I maintain myself. WordPress is a game changer. By getting rid of Advance Access I lost Google search results for Real Estate. Two other on my sites keep climbing.

            The internet is the current wave.

            I have more business, on all fronts, than I can handle. Today I was talking with my insurance agent to keep current with our growth, yesterday I dropped off my financials to a new book keeper. I just can’t do it all any more.

            My business is way past 24/7. We also have kids, and family.

            So, in the past when people made fun of me for my “side” businesses, most are talking to me differently today, except you, and the internet crowd.

            The internet is a fascinating business tool. All of my business comes from the internet, and I only respond to about half the leads I get. We just can’t do any more.

            When people contact me about Real Estate matters I simply tell them who I think can help them best. We just can’t do any more. We’re growing, but I found fast growth isn’t sustainable. My opinion is that my businesses will pay for my retirement, so I want them set up correctly.

            More information than you ever needed? Absolutely.

  45. The place looks GREAT! What a transformation…. from Grandma’s house to light and modern… I am ready to move in and invite everyone over for a BBQ! =)

  46. David, we ran out of room there…NOW tell me WHY you have a real estate license to run a CLEANING BUSINESS?!?!

    That is where you and I get tangled up. You want to say wrong things about real estate, as if you actually DO real estate, and give the impression you do real estate, when you do not!

    I wish you all the best in your “house cleaning business”! I do!

    But why oh why oh why do you want to pretend in public that you are doing something other than you are? That is the crazy part. Why do you have a real estate license to do a cleaning business?

    I wouldn’t care if your advice was correct. BUT your statements regarding whether or not the agents should have gotten paid in that scenario are just flat out incorrect! Why would any Broker sponsor that activity by letting someone who admittedly does NOT want to be in the business of representing buyers and sellers of homes to live in, let that happen? Yes…real estate is broken. Brokers let people who are not in the business…give the appearance that they are in the business. That is wrong and misleading to the public at large.

    • You are so funny.

      A Real Estate license is a professional license. I do Real Estate every day. You are in internet based Real Estate sales which as I recall accounts for about 3% of the Real Estate industry.

      I advocate for full commission Brokerage, and think Real Estate agents don’t get paid enough.

      Let me get this straight, you are a commissioned sales agent of Real Estate and think every one should only do what you do. Your posts are dismissive of my work.

      We prepare properties for sale. We have done thousands. We have been on the preferred provider list for HUD, and FHA homes since the 1980s. We could do trash outs, work with Vestus, or buy, and sell properties.

      I can do a lot of things in Real Estate. I can do a lot of things with a Real Estate license. Geez I could even have a Brokerage.

      Hey, what if I sold the cleaning business? Does that count as Real Estate? What if I partner with some one to purchase a property? Does that count? or what if I build another business to compliment the business I already have?

      Well, yeah, business opportunities are also a part of Real Estate, those also get bought, and sold. Hey! What if I start buying other cleaning companies because I can?! Is that Real Estate?

      None of that makes any difference to the points Lee brought up.

      Now I see you have another post about “there is no late.” Let’s see what that’s all about.

      • David,

        We are just not in the same business. I am in the business of helping Mommies and Daddies and babies get from here to there. I am in the business of helping old people share the memories of their home with me as they talk about having to leave the only home they have ever known. I am in the business of Daddy already works in another State and Mommy and the kids are helping me rearrange and depersonalize their home and turn it into a “house for sale”, and we have to stop while they cry, and take a day off while they absorb the reality of having to leave their home.

        You and I are not in the same business, David. A team of whipping the house into shape would traumatize them. They are already in shock from the WORDS “We have to sell our house” and have not come to terms with the full reality of that until I am with them and we take things off shelves and move the couch around and reluctantly disconnect the TV if necessary. I turn someone’s “home” into a product for sale. Quietly…gently…giving space when it gets too emotional and stopping until they can internalize the change in their lives and home.

        We are not in the same business, David.

        In my business, when people get all upset…it’s part of the business, and it happens frequently. The business I am in is a highly charged emotional business. It’s not about things…it’s about people’s “homes”. Their old ones they are leaving sometimes and often, sadly, and the new ones they will turn into their home.

        It’s not “the real estate”.

        The internet thing you just don’t get, David. I have been an agent for 21 years, when we had mls books. The internet is simply here and here to stay, David. It is part of our lives. It is not a 3% thing in a research report. It is the same as a telephone or an email. It is not an “advertisement”. It is how we communicate.

        I just got a call from a client who I sold a home to in 2005, and I’m staging the home of someone who bought one from me last year, and I’m working with friends of 3 other friends who bought a home from me…and two other people who just met me by reading my blog.

        How someone chooses to hire me, is many and varied. That they “found me” on the internet does not make me an “internet salesperson” any more than someone who gets a call from to list a house from a “Just SOLD” postcard, is a “postcard salesman”.

        You just don’t have this newfangled internet thing DOWN yet, David. It’s not the big scary beast you think it is. Pretty simple stuff…you talk, people listen…or not. Where you talk is irrelevant. What you have to say is what’s important…not where you say it.

  47. Worth noting…YES…IF…you run into a situation where you may indeed lose your Earnest Money, you often and most always need an attorney. A good real estate attorney. Not always…sometimes the agents can work things out when they go sideways. BUT because you needed an attorney when the situation turned into a “legal dispute” that is not because the agent’s were “inadequate”. It is because LEGAL DISPUTES require ATTORNIES…all legal disputes.

    If the DOCTOR screws up your liposuction procedure…and you NOW “need an attorney”, that does NOT mean your lawyer should have done your liposuction procedure!

    Same with Real Estate…needing an attorney due to a legal dispute of some kind does not = you didn’t need an agent from the getgo any more than it means you didn’t need a Doctor from the getgo.


  48. Ardell, you are so funny.

    By coincidence last night I worked with a family I was referred to in Mount Lake Terrace. As you like to say they are from another country. The house is a blocker they bought in 2007 for $300K. They have an adjustable rate mortgage set to adjust in about six months. He lost his job as a dishwasher when the restaurant he worked at closed. The question is what they should do.

    He also has a business as a mechanic. He could short sale the house, but then he needs to live some place where he can work on cars. What’s your solution? Should I go after that short sale, or should they modify the loan?

    Also last night night I met with a person who has had a very unique home for 27 years. It’s a single person who is a little tired of the up keep. What do you suggest she do? Should she sell in today’s market? Because there are some properties who are holding value. Her’s is by far one of those keepers.

    Just because I don’t parade my clients through the internet doesn’t mean I don’t work with them. We had one close last week. Actually six of my clients sold this year.

    My comments, once again, were directed at what Lee commented. You are proving her point.

    • David,

      What I object to is the ambiguity of statements like this: “Actually six of my clients sold this year.”

      When you have a real estate license and you talk about real estate in public and then say 6 of your clients, there is an inference that you represented those people in a real estate transaction. We are in an industry where ambiguity and misleading statements are simply not permitted. What AGENTS “do” is confusing enough as it is.

      When I say “six of my clients” it is clear that I either represented them as a buyer of a home or a seller of a home. When you use the same phrase when you are giving real estate advice, you are talking about homes your company has cleaned so that an agent other than you could list and sell them.

      As to your advising consumers, when you say you had 6 clients and those were homes you cleaned vs homes you listed and sold, that is a misrepresentation. If the buyer or seller of the home runs into contractual difficulties, like buyer doesn’t close on time, you as the person who prepped those six homes for sale would not be privy to the details of the contract. You would not even have seen the contract.

      You are entitled to an opinion, but when you hold out the fact that you have a real estate license and talk about clients, you are creating a message that you were the agent for those clients vs the company who cleaned their homes. If that is not the case, then that is misrepresentation.

      If you misrepresent on your blog, I would not stick my nose in it. In fact if you did so on RCG on Craig’s post, well, I would consider that misrepresentation to be Craig’s problem. πŸ™‚ But when you misrepresent on a post of mine, I would be remiss to not to make the correction.

      So…when you say “We had one close last week. Actually six of my clients sold this year.” and I see no closings for you in that period…who is “we”. Do you sell leads to other people who hang their license where you hang hours? How does this cleaning business transcend into the representation of buyers and sellers of homes? I am not merely curious. I am looking for the full disclosure to readers of your writings on this blog. I am not trying to “out” you, I am looking for clarity to that statement given it would appear you listed and sold 6 homes this year from your statement, but I think you mean you were hired to clean them and then an agent (who was not you) was hired to list and sell them.

      The other day I read a blog post elsewhere where someone is touted as having listed 600 homes this year. Clearly a fabrication. But when it is on the internet, in a space that is not under my guardianship, I don’t have to say a word.

      Over here on RCG the Real Estate Industry has deemed it my responsibility to account for violations in the comments of my post. Misrepresentation is a bit more than a “violation” and so I am needing to stick my finger in it and flush out the truth of the matter. When you say you had 6 “clients” are you talking about you were the agent in the transaction…or they were clients of the cleaning company?

  49. I forget, what’s the equation again? 2 bloggers divided by 14 consecutive exhanges = one played out thread. πŸ˜‰

    For the sake of my inbox, please, one of you give the other last word.

    • Craig,

      I have a few posts people talked on for years! Dustin has one with over 700 comments over a period of years. RCG is not a “forum” and blog posts are not a “thread” on a message board. David and I are having a conversation.

      I only get emails on my posts. You can turn off the notifications for posts that aren’t yours, I think.

  50. David,

    Regarding what I would tell the people you referred to as “your clients” who maybe want to sell their homes, if they are indeed your “real estate clients” vs your house cleaning clients, I would tell them nothing…as they are your clients.

    But I can tell you what I have told people in those situations recently in my business.

    In your first scenario, even though the income was less, they still fully qualified for a new mortgage of the same amount on that reduced income, so loan modification was not likely an option…unless… I gave them about 3 potential options, one of which was a clear option to stay in that home. They also had sufficient cash assets to make up the shortfall, so no, I didn’t see short sale as the likely option for them. I then counseled them to explore those options with their attorney(s) and call me if the attorney did not agree with me and the attorney advised them to sell. The attorney agreed with me. They still live in their home.

    As to the 2nd scenario, I met with both the husband and the wife after the husband contacted me to sell the property. They owned it free and clear. It was clear that the wife did not want to sell it. I asked the man what he would do with the money if he sold the property. He said buy an investment property. Since they could clearly cash flow if they rented it out, and they were VERY elderly and the wife would move back into it if she survived her husband, and the price he wanted to sell it for was Peak Pricing…and the cost of selling it and buying a different property as an investment property did not make much sense for people “of their advanced years”, I pretty much let them talk it out and went back home. πŸ™‚ I told them to watch the two on market in that building (it was a condo) and see IF they even sold at all given the doubling of the condo fee due to a special assessment.

    That was many, many, months ago. Just double checked my advice to them. Nothing has sold in a year…the same two listings are on market reduced to $100,000 less than what he wanted to sell for, one is on market now 327 days and the other 111 days. The elderly woman did not need to work on getting that ready for market only to be the 3rd not sold listing.

    That is the difference, David. You may “talk with them about real estate” while you are prepping a home for sale or taking the job of prepping the home for sale. I don’t talk about prepping the home for sale UNTIL and UNLESS the clear answer is they should sell it AND it WILL BE SOLD.

    If you are telling them they should sell via your Real Estate License and then taking the job of prepping it with your Cleaning Business License, you are creating a job for your Cleaning Company via your Real Estate License. Clearly inappropriate use of a Real Estate License.

    You faulted your Windermere Broker for not allowing you to do that. I think you Broker was correct in that regard.

    That is why I urge you to pick one side of the fence…and stay on it. Mixing a myriad of make money off prepping houses businesses with a Real Estate License is a difficult hop, skip and a jump. I agree with your Broker on that and I engage with you on this topic so that you will take the time to understand “the leap” of words like “I have six clients”.

    Mixing a real estate license with other businesses requires a different level of integrity, we see it all the time with people who hold both a real estate license and a license to process mortgages. One license should not be to the purpose of creating money making propositions for the other business.

  51. Geez, this really is very simple.

    I have web sites that all have links. A couple of those links go to our cleaning services, and one to davidlosh.com which is linked here. All web sites have the same links, some more, some less.

    We see properties that agents refer to us for preparation, or people contact our companies from the web sites. Either way we are through the door before the property is listed. OK?

    Some people want a full consultation. We have worked on some properties over the course of many months.

    Some Real Estate agents refer people to us because they know that the client is safe with us. I honestly make more than most agents. For me to list, or work with buyers, is a pay cut.

    I did, in the years of 2005 to 2008 encourage every one I ever sold to, to sell. I did the phones, the expireds, and network. My company is passive income during those times.

    In the past ten years this company, our current company, is the fourth manifestation. There are three other cleaning companies that we have helped to start, and are now stand alone. Between all we provide opportunity for about eighteen people.

    I know everybody gets confused by the term “our clients.” We are like doctors, and lawyers, in that we provide professional Real Estate services. I checked with the State, I think I’m safe on that one.

    I have been preparing properties for sale since 1972, and part time for a couple of years before that. My economics professor in college asked me to play chess. I was pretty good. While we chatted he asked how much money I made. Evidently it was more than he made, and I was working part time.

    Real Estate is a business. There is no other way to look at it. Even the family home is a business decision. We ensure that what you are buying has value. We don’t touch any shady deals, and like I said, worked diligently to get home inspection on the Purchase, and Sale Forms.

    So I consult for free. Is that OK? It’s a gimme in the world of business. I consult on a lot of businesses, home, and commercial property. I know where all the bodies are buried, so to speak. i know a lot of people, and a lot of people know my work. We have the highest standards, at affordable prices.

    My licenses allow me to do a lot. It’s a great and beautiful thing.

    • Thanks David. I have no problem with that. I just think when you are speaking to someone about what should happen when a sale doesn’t close on time, you should disclose that for you “to list, or work with buyers, is a pay cut.” so that they know that we are not two people “who list and sell” for a living, having a peer discussion on that topic. You are sympathizing from a non-professional standpoint, the same as a neighbor might. The professional answer is that late closings are most often not simple and calm and often quite stressful and emotional.

      Even though the seller acquiesced in the end, that does not mean they were not saying “NO EXTENSION” before the neighbor and buyer contacted them. That scenario is quite common from a Seller’s initial reaction to eventual outcome, as I noted earlier in this discussion.

      I’m a huge Judge Judy fan and she always says “If it doesn’t make sense, I don’t believe it.” Two agents saying I’d rather not get paid than close two days late? Really?

      Maybe…big maybe…one agent preferring not to close or get paid. Even that is hard to believe. But two agents saying I don’t want to get paid, on the same day, in the same transaction? There’s got to be more to THAT story.

    • ? Who are you talking to, David? Who got bush whacked…and how? I’m working on a new listing. The Before and After shots are freaking AWESOME! Love this job!

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