The stinging words that a Realtor does not want to hear ... "You are Unethical". Words that I had the misfortune of receiving as they were carelessly tossed at me in a telephone conversation. The other party .. the listing agent who had earned the reputation in our community as one that is a challenge to work with at times.
The story began as I was representing and working with buyers who were moving to area. We had looked for several days to find that special home but I had failed to see that light up expression of excitement come across their face. Their time in town was limited and now we were reaching towards the end of their visit. With home under contract, my clients were becoming anxious and had decided to "settle" on a property, the best of their choices. After making sure this is what they really wanted to do, we launched forward with an offer.
Offer submitted to the listing agent, my clients fly back home and are now poised for negotiations. Indeed, the seller responded and the ball was in our court .. when a brand new listing comes up on MLS and yes, it is what I feel is a true match. I send the new information to my clients and they too seem excited .. I viewed the home and it indeed was just what my clients were seeking. But wait, we have the ball in our court with a counter.
I was instructed to stall on a buyer's response to the seller's counter which I did .. tap dancing away (one of the talent's I guess we need as a Realtor). My clients flew back, looked at the home and within a day they loved the house! Then came the question from my client .. can we have two offers submitted at the same time? We just want to make sure we will be able to reasonably purchase this great home but don't want to risk losing the other.
We have option periods and the right to terminate here in Texas. Although I personally do not like to juggle balls in the air to see where they land, I did have to respond to my client .. yes you can have two offers out and even two contracts accepted. I went on to explain the loss of option fee and their risks, I also threw in the feelings of the seller who would receive a termination, etc. With that .. proceed, submit an offer on the new home while the ball is still in the court with the past offer.
The new home worked out and a successful contract was put in place. The first offer never went to a contract as it had stalled out with the ball in our court, counter never accepted. The other home had remained Active on MLS, never was under contract. When I called the first agent to explain that my clients were withdrawing from the negotiation but wanted to express appreciation to the seller for the counter, etc. the listing agent inquired as to why .. reasonable question as the seller surly would want to know. I explained that the home, although lovely was just not right for my clients and they came to realize they were compromising some of their needs.
A few days later the phone call came .. You are so unethical ... the agent had found out that my clients went under contract on an agent's listing in her office. I was unethical because it was not right to leave her seller hanging in an negotiation for so long. She had invested so much time working this offer in a very busy time while her partner was out and she was covering a lot .. on & on. So I just let her vent and just listened and then said .. I personally would not have preferred to handled the negotiations in that manner but that was not my choice. You see, my clients after inquiring and being told of their rights and also about the risks instructed me to move in the manner they chose. It was a right they have, not illegal, not wrong just not one that was a popular choice. As far as unethical .. please watch your accusations and be sure of your stance before you make that judgment. You are welcome to file with the state a complaint if you feel I have acted unethically. (At the time I was a member of the state ethic's board, a fact I did not share with the Realtor).
We are at time faced with the responsibility of representing our client's wishes even when the permitted option they choose is not popular. We are also faced with remaining professional in the moment and working with other agents who present challenges. This happened about 3 years ago and I have had the opportunity to work with this agent a few more times .. our bridges did cross again. No ethics complaint was ever launched and the transactions we did together after this event went very smooth.