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Ask Maverick Your Own Question
Maverick, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 6391
Experience:  20 years professional experience
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I live in State and listed my home (about 3 months ago) with

Customer Question

I live in Washington State and listed my home (about 3 months ago) with an agent of a large, well-known real estate brokerage firm in my city. It only took a few weeks for me to realize that my agent didn't communicate well and has often, over the period I've had my home listed, not answered me at all on many occasions. When I listed my home for sale this past July, I told the agent I was interested in selling the property quickly because I had to get my son to another state to start school. I let my agent and her partner set the listing price and guide the sales process every step of the way. A broker's open took place about two weeks after I listed the home, and based on the feedback from those brokers we lowered the price of the house by $25,000. That spurred more showings and continued interest, so we left the price there for a few weeks. When approximately another month went by with no offers, I contacted my realtor to suggest that it might be time for another price drop. In one of the few instances where she actually called me instead of texting, she advised me that there were a couple of parties who had a strong interest in my home and we should leave the price at that point. About two weeks later, when I hadn't heard anything further from her, I made contact to find out what had happened to those two interested parties. She told me both had decided the price was too high and had chosen to purchase other properties. It was only then that she suggested we drop the price again - another $10,000. We've been at that price for about 6 weeks, and now the agent is suggesting that I lower the price another $20,000-$25,000! My home sits on acreage in a very desirable community, it's already priced $40,000 below its most recent appraisal, and $6000 below its taxable value (and it's really rare for a house to sell below its taxable value anywhere in the area where I live). When I bring up these issues with my agent, she says there's little significance in appraisals and that houses sell below their taxable value "all the time." If I lower the price to the point my agent suggests, it will be listed $70,000 + lower than the initial listing price. While I understand the supply/demand issues of the real estate market, I'm now sincerely ***** ***** realtor's motivations and sales methods. Her only "active" marketing method appears to be lowering the price of my home to affect a sale, thus squandering tens of thousands of dollars of my equity while risking very little herself. This is in addition to the fact that I usually have to contact her partner in order to get any information about what's going on with my listing. I always contact the agent first, but I usually have to contact her partner who gets the information I want from the agent. I want to end the listing contract with this agent; I think her pattern of behavior has already cost me dearly - and now we're in a down sales market because of the upcoming holidays. What do you think of this agent's behavior and what legal recourse do I have to get out of the listing agreement with her/her broker?
JA: Because real estate law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: Washington State
JA: Has any paperwork been filed?
Customer: What kind of paperwork are you referring to?
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I think my concerns are pretty succinct, but I don't know what other info the lawyer will need from me.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Maverick replied 9 months ago.

Welcome to Just Answer! My name is***** give me a few minutes to review your inquiry. Thank you for your patience.

Expert:  Maverick replied 9 months ago.

Here is the law that applies:

Seller's agent—Duties.

(1) Unless additional duties are agreed to in writing signed by a seller's agent, the duties of a seller's agent are limited to those set forth in RCW18.86.030 and the following, which may not be waived except as expressly set forth in (e) of this subsection:

(a) To be loyal to the seller by taking no action that is adverse or detrimental to the seller's interest in a transaction;

(b) To timely disclose to the seller any conflicts of interest;

(c) To advise the seller to seek expert advice on matters relating to the transaction that are beyond the agent's expertise;

(d) Not to disclose any confidential information from or about the seller, except under subpoena or court order, even after termination of the agency relationship; and

(e) Unless otherwise agreed to in writing after the seller's agent has complied with RCW 18.86.030(1)(f), to make a good faith and continuous effort to find a buyer for the property; except that a seller's agent is not obligated to seek additional offers to purchase the property while the property is subject to an existing contract for sale.

(2)(a) The showing of properties not owned by the seller to prospective buyers or the listing of competing properties for sale by a seller's agent does not in and of itself breach the duty of loyalty to the seller or create a conflict of interest.

(b) The representation of more than one seller by different brokers affiliated with the same firm in competing transactions involving the same buyer does not in and of itself breach the duty of loyalty to the sellers or create a conflict of interest.

You may have to sue or threaten to sue for violation of this statutory duty and see if you can negotiate an early termination that way. A real estate litigation attorney may be able to send a demand letter for about $200.00 to make such a threat.

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Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Can I surmise from the bold print in your answer that you also don't feel that this agent has made, or is making, a good faith and continuous effort to find a buyer for my property?
Expert:  Maverick replied 9 months ago.

Well, I am not permitted to comment on your specific fact pattern, but if you have an argument this appears to be at least one legal theory on which you might want to proceed.

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