I’ve been holding onto this blog post for months.
It’s about a #BareMinimumRealtor who put their Buyer at serious risk. It’s about an industry that pumps out ‘licensed’ agents without adequate training. It’s about a broken brokerage system that doesn’t oversee the work of their agents. It’s about a naive Buyer who didn’t know they should have Expected More.
This is a story about a sloppy offer I received last year.
It’s not an isolated story.
Confession: Our team often plays ‘Spot the Errors’ with offers and MLS listings in order to learn and become better agents. These are the games great agents play.
Today, we’re going to play Spot the Errors together. I’ve (begrudgingly) blackened out the details about the Seller, the Buyer, the agent and the brokerage. I’ve circled all the mistakes in red.
Note before we begin: This was a FIRM offer, meaning there were no conditions – had we accepted the offer, the Buyer would have been legally held to it.
Two HUGE errors on this page:
- No irrevocable date or time. An irrevocable date/time is when the offer expires and it’s a critical part of the offer. Without an irrevocable date, the offer is valid indefinitely. If we’d been sleazy agents, we could have held onto this offer for weeks or months before accepting it, or more importantly, not responded to it and creating a bidding war for any future offers.
- No completion date. The completion date is the date the new Buyer takes possession, and you don’t need to be a REALTOR to know this is important. Left blank, the Seller could have chosen whatever date he wanted…next week, next month or next year. And remember: this was a firm and binding offer, so the Buyer wouldn’t have had a lot of options.
- Chattels and fixtures not defined. What’s supposed to be here? Details about all the items that are included with the sale of the property – appliances, light fixtures, window coverings, etc. Some agents actually put in the model numbers of the items so there isn’t any confusion on closing. Putting in a blanket sentence like this agent did is easy…but it certainly doesn’t protect the Buyer. #BareMinimumRealtor
- Common expense inclusions not listed. This is where the Buyer’s agent is supposed to list what’s included in the condo maintenance fees (e.g. hydro, insurance, cable TV, etc.). That information is on the MLS Listing, so it’s really just a matter of copying and confirming the information. It’s critical that the information here is detailed and correct – there’s liability for the Buyer, Seller and the agents if it’s wrong. In this offer, “As per budget” doesn’t even mean anything.
- No title search date. This is a really important date! It’s the deadline for the Buyers lawyer to get the title documents from the Seller’s lawyer…no title search date could really mess up the closing.
- Missing signature in the Commission Trust Account Section – this is kind of ironic, because this is one of the signatures that ensures that the agent gets paid. It’s usually the one area of an agreement where even incompetent agents don’t make mistakes.
- Final acknowledgement signed in advance – just read the sentence above this signature and I don’t even need to explain why signing this in advance would be problematic: “I acknowledge receipt of my signed copy of this Accepted Agreement of Purchase and sale….”
This is one of the most important parts of the agreement – it’s where the Buyer’s agent includes all of the legal clauses that protect the Buyer. While the clauses used in Schedule A vary by property and agent, for a condo like the one we had listed, I would expect to see, at a minimum:
- Status Review Condition – A condition allowing the Buyer to have the condo’s Status Certificate reviewed by their lawyer. The status certificate contains critical financial and legal information about the condo and should always be reviewed by a lawyer to protect the Buyer. [Related: Why the Status Certificate is Important]
- Kitec Clause – A clause that requires the Seller to warrant that there isn’t any Kitec plumbing in the unit [Related: All About Kitec Plumbing]
- Condo By-Laws – A clause requiring the Seller to confirm that they haven’t done any alterations to the unit that contravene the condo rules and bylaws. This clause has saved us more than once when our Buyers find out the previous owner did illegal renovations and the condo board is refusing them insurance or requiring them to undo the renovation.
- Broom-Swept Condition – A clause addressing the condition the unit is to be left in on closing (for example: broom-swept condition). We’ve seen all sorts of messes on closing, and this clause can really protect the Buyer.
- Keys – A clause requiring the Seller to provide all keys and entrance fobs to the Buyer on closing.
Pages 7 & 8
- Missing info The name of the Seller, property address and date of the agreement all weren’t included in this document (a “Schedule B”, both pages), which brings into question whether or not this actually forms part of the agreement.
The Confirmation of Cooperation
- Missing signature in the Confirmation of Cooperation section – this is the second signature needed for the agent to get paid. Maybe the agent knew they didn’t deserve the commission. #wishfulthinking
- The Buyer signed in the Multiple Representation box. Ugh. When this section is signed, it means the same brokerage is representing both the Buyer and the Seller and different agent obligations came into effect. Let me assure you all, this was NOT an agent at our brokerage and we were NOT under Multiple Representation.
How the Story Ends
We decided not to work with the offer. We couldn’t trust an agent who would put together a legally binding offer that looks like this. We told him his offer was a mess and he should review offer paperwork with his broker. You can imagine how well he received that piece of unsolicited advice.
Did we call the brokerage to report the agent? We didn’t. We debated it for a long time, but this particular brokerage is known as not really caring about the quality of their thousands of agents…so we didn’t bother.
Had we accepted the offer, the Buyer would have been at considerable risk. And if there were any issues with the transaction and it ended up in court, a judge would have destroyed the Buyer’s agent for such sloppy paperwork.
Buyers and Sellers Deserve Better
I often complain about incompetent agents on this blog and I get a lot of grief from other agents who accuse me of harming the industry’s reputation by airing our dirty laundry. But this sloppy offer is far from an isolated incident. Buyers and Sellers put their trust in real estate agents and expect to be represented and protected – that’s kind of the point of hiring an agent, no? Until brokerages and the real estate industry deal with the inadequate training, standards and supervision issues, I don’t see any other choice but share what I’m seeing.
Buyers and Sellers deserve better.