Recently I was speaking with a new Realtor (they’re so cute, when they’re little) and was discussing her exasperation with an agent who hadn’t yet sent a home inspection report, with an impending deadline looming. This Listing Agent mused that she needed to call the Buyer Agent and ask for the Home Inspection Report and addendum, before the expiration of the contingency.
My question was why is she calling the other agent? In the context of the contract, the purchaser had 10 days to complete the inspection and provide a full report and request for repairs. The Buyer Agent had the home inspection done a few days prior and e-mailed saying “We’re only asking for a few things and I’ll send the summary over tomorrow.” Tomorrow came and went and no report nor addendum.
Breaking Down the Problem
There are two main issues here, for the Buyer. Their agent hasn’t delivered the addendum, nor the report in the alloted time frame, and in the context of the contract the contingency has gone away and the Seller is no longer obligated to do the repairs. So, the inept Buyer Agent has failed to do the job and the Seller has been given a gift; leaving the buyer to move forward with the contract. There is also an issue that the Buyer Agent has revealed that she is delivering a summary… which is not the “full report” that the contract required. Even if the Buyer Agent delivers the Summary, and the contract calls for a “full report” she may not have met the criteria of the contingency obligation.
“That’s Not Fair”
As I was talking to this new agent, I told her that I wouldn’t make an effort to call and remind the Buyer Agent to send over the time sensitive document….unless the Seller wanted her to make such a reminder. I’m the first to say that Agents should work together for the Buyer and Seller’s best interest, but ultimately you work for YOUR client. Reminding the Buyer Agent of timelines that only benefit the Buyer is not going to be in the Seller’s best interest. I know it’s not fair, and it’s not nice to take advantage of the other agent…. but shouldn’t she be well equipped and knowledgeable enough to serve her client – without depending on you? When a licensee takes on the responsibility to serve the client, they need to do so, understanding that the client’s perception is more important than that of the other agent and what’s “fair”. Most Seller’s wouldn’t think it was fair to them, for you to cost them money in repairs, so that you can have a good working relationship with the opposing agent in the future.
My favoroite Sun-Tzu nugget:
“Know yourself, know your enemy, and never lose in 100 conflicts. Know yourself, know not your enemy, win half the time, lose half the time. Know not yourself, know not your enemy, and surely lose.”
As much as I like many other agents; in a transaction, their clients have different needs and desires than your client. Many times you should size up the opposing agent, to make sure that they are capable. If they aren’t you should have the discussion with your client, as to how much assistance you should provide to ensure a smooth transaction. The only thing that most buyers and sellers typically have in common is their mutual desire to get to closing, usually with as few problems as necessary. However, the client needs to determine what’s necessary. In the case of reminding the other agent of their responsibilities, I am not convienced that your Seller would agree that his or her best interests were met. Anytime that you have two people with different interests in the same transaction, you’ll have inherent conflict. Those conflicting interests are what agents must server everyday and try to do it professionally.
Is It Fair?
Nope, it’s not fair – to the other agent and their client; but it maybe fair to your’s. It’s “representation” and many times the client may not want you to do what your think is the “right” thing to do. So long as it’s legal, you may just have to hang-up your disdain and move forward, hoping that the other agent really does understand that “It’s just business”.
Originally published April 08, 2008.