How Do You Present An Offer, When The Listing Agent Cannot Be Found?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Fred Griffin Real Estate Florida Broker BK436788

     Where is the Listing Agent?  Your Buyer found the house they want.  They have signed the offer and written a check for the escrow deposit.   You call the Listing Agent, but he is nowhere to be found.  Your calls, text messages, and emails go unanswered.  You drive to his office; the door is locked and nobody is there. 

     The Listing Broker is a one-man office.  He has no other agents or employees to contact. 

     Now what do you do?  Can you call the Seller directly?




     After exhausting every effort to reach the Listing Agent, can you go directly to the Seller?  Would that be a violation of the NAR Code of Ethics?  What if you have a Fiduciary to the Buyer?  Does that Fiduciary take precedence over the NAR COE?

     First, the laws of your state will prevail over the NAR Code of Ethics.  For example, the Arizona Department of Real Estate has a "24-hour rule" when the Listing Agent cannot be found (see Arizona Administrative Code Rule R4-28-1102).  That rule allows the Selling Broker to go directly to the Seller.  



     What about my state of Florida?  There is nothing specific in Florida Administrative Code 61J2 regarding this topic, nor is there anything in Florida Statutes 475. 

     I faced this situation recently when working with a Buyer for a Tallahassee house (I could not find the Listing Agent to present the offer from my Buyer). I needed legal advice, in a hurry.  I reached out to the attorneys at the Florida Association of Realtors in Orlando.  

    They told me emphatically, "Do NOT go directly to the Seller.  We believe that you could face a violation of the NAR Code of Ethics.  You would probably survive an Ethics complaint, but you don't want to take that chance.  Rather, have your Buyer contact the Seller... your Buyer can even take the offer to the Seller.  From that point, you will be in compliance with NAR COE Standard of Practice 16-13 (the dealing is initiated by the client)."


     "What if" my Buyer doesn't want to contact the Seller? 

     If I have a Fiduciary with that Buyer (if I have a signed Single Agent Relationship pursuant to Florida Statutes 475.278), then I WILL go directly to the Seller.  I have a legal obligation to my client, the Buyer.  I MUST present their offer!* 


     Final thoughts: 

  •     Document, document, document!  Keep a written record of the phone calls, text messages, emails, or office visits where you attempted to contact the listing agent. 
  •      You may want to give a "heads-up" to your Board or Association's Ethics Committee that you are contacting a Seller directly, after all efforts to reach the listing agent have failed. 
  •      You may also want to notify your attorney, and seek her or his advice before proceeding.



     *I am not advising any Realtor, broker or agent to circumvent a listing agent by going directly to a Seller.  If you face this situation, see an attorney for legal advice.


Posted by


Frederick Griffin, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker    850-545-1901


Tallahassee Florida Metropolitan Area

Exclusive Representation for Buyers and Sellers 

Call Fred  850-545-1901


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Frederick Griffin, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker    850-545-1901


Disclaimer:  Nothing in the above blog article is to be construed as legal advice, tax advice, or financial advice.  For legal advice see an attorney.   For tax advice or financial advice see a tax attorney, certified public accountant, or other qualified professional.



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  1. Robert Vegas Bob Swetz 03/17/2018 12:42 PM
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Fred Griffin
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

 Well said, Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi  comment #100

       I am a one-man office.  All of my buyers and sellers are given a "back-up plan" in case something happens to me.  That plan includes my wife's phone number, a title law firm, and the contact info of two other real estate brokers with whom I have referral agreements.  After reading the comments to my post, I may add the name of a person on the MLS committee who has authority to withdraw or cancel a listing.

Mar 13, 2018 11:41 AM #101
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

Even if he were in a coma, he should have a back up plan.  Unless he is all alone in the world, with not one friend, relative or acquaintance who would discover him.  No excuse for leaving a client dangling.

Mar 13, 2018 12:32 PM #102
Brian DeYoung
Howard Hanna Real Estate Services - Ithaca, NY
Brian DeYoung

That's exactly why I work with a firm. I like to be off duty once in a while.
Good scenario, thanks for posting it.

Mar 13, 2018 02:25 PM #103
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

When an agent is with a Broker, I believe you go straight to your 

Broker for guidance and advice. They have their neck on the line and need to guide the process.

Glad it worked out for you.

Great share!!

Mar 13, 2018 02:47 PM #104
Joe LaMastra
Realty One of New Mexico - Albuquerque, NM
Central New Mexico Real Estate

Fred, I read your "detail" of the actual episode below. Sounds like you handeled an awkward situation very well. You'll be on my referral list if I ever send someone to Tallahassee. Here in NM there's no time limit I'm aware of for contacting the other party if a broker can't be found, though I'd probably wait a day. Depends on how hot the property is - 

Mar 13, 2018 02:49 PM #105
Fred Griffin
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Thank you Joe LaMastra comment #105

       The challenge is the NAR Code of Ethics, Standard of Practice 16-13.   My state of Florida doesn't address "missing listing agents", so presumably the MIA agent could file an Ethics complaint against me with my Board for contacting his Seller directly.  That's why I asked the lawyers for their advice.

Mar 13, 2018 03:02 PM #106
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

Georgia does allow the agent to go past an unresponsive agent to the client if you have documentation of at least three attemps and on the occassions when I have done it my attemps have not only been documented, but have been calling office, calling cell, calling home, texting, emailing, leaving a note at their house and photographing said note on their door etc... not just "three calls".  I go overboard.  And of course always if a broker (who is not the absent listing agent" is there I contact them.

Mar 13, 2018 06:05 PM #107
Fred Griffin
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

 Tammy Lankford,   comment 107

     I overheard a meeting of Insurance Adjusters at a local restaurant, after Hurricane Matthew had passed through town.  The speaker was telling them, "Stick a business card on their front door - take a photo with your cell phone, then email me that picture for evidence that you tried to contact them".

Mar 13, 2018 06:30 PM #108
Jordan Collins
Writingsessay - Snow Camp, NC
Experienced, published, fast writer

Oh pretty interesting as for me, thanks a lot for such great suggestion 

Mar 14, 2018 08:23 AM #109
Yolanda Cordova-Gilbert
Sitterle Homes - Richmond, TX
Sitterle Homes


 COngrats on the feature, WOW is all I can say I know people go on vacation but they usually have back up! 

Mar 14, 2018 09:35 AM #110
Christine Kankowski North SD and Temecula
House Match Inc - Poway, CA
Excellent Sales and Property Management

Wow, What a story.   I ahd a similar event prior to being an agent.  My agent - out of state purchase- oddly stooed responding to all communication.  Turns out he had a heart attack.  WE found someone from his office to complete the transaction.  He was fine, just needed some time off after that! Whew.

Mar 14, 2018 12:41 PM #111
Alesha A. Wilson, M.Ed., MRP
525 Realty Group - Edmond, OK
Buy and Sell with Confidence

Very engaging and interesting post Fred Griffin.  Sounds like you approached the situation with caution (covering all your bases) and with professionalism.  Thank you for sharing the experience!

Mar 14, 2018 02:21 PM #112
Macy Babb
Re/Max All Properties Realtor - 404-234-6166 - Cartersville, GA
Realtor, SFR, HUD/REO Certified

I hope I never run into this situation... I would hope that "even in an emergency" you would return a phone call if you have clients, or make arrangements for them. Especially in this day and time of texts, laptops ...etc, my phone stays on my side (too much at times) but always with me

Mar 15, 2018 06:04 AM #113
Anita S. Zahn
Advantage Realty 863-840-1420 - Sebring, FL
Highlands County Real Estate Source! I work 4 U!

Great post Fred!  I have had to have buyers contact sellers in the past due to no communication from listing agents.  Funny how all of a sudden your phone calls and emails get answered.  Fortunately this has only happened twice.  You did the right thing and covered all the bases.

Mar 15, 2018 06:14 AM #114
David Martin (703) 585-4687
Fairfax Realty - Fairfax, VA
Making Realty Dreams a Reality

Interesting and informative Fred Griffin I hope you aren't running into that issue too often. I have on occassion run into issues with hearing back from listing or selling agents in a timely manner in N. Virginia but fortunately not very often.

Mar 16, 2018 08:47 AM #116
Robert Vegas Bob Swetz
Realty ONE Group - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Henderson Homes for Sale

Wow Fred great post my friend, congrats on the Gold Star from the AR Gods and featured to the group:


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Mar 17, 2018 12:39 PM #117
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Area Real Estate

I think your attorney gave you a lame-ass answer. I do remember from somewhere that we cannot suggest the buyer contact the seller. That is here in my state of IL. 

Great post.

Mar 17, 2018 01:03 PM #118
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Los Angeles CA

This is one of the main reasons why you should never hire your relative who works in this business part time or out of location realtor, or, of course, a discounted agent who just ''has to double end''.

Mar 23, 2018 10:20 PM #119
Jennifer Mackay
Counts Real Estate Group, Inc. - Panama City, FL
Your Bay County Florida Realtor 850.774.6582

It's amazing isn't it?!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Fred Griffin 

May 03, 2018 08:30 AM #127
Sybil Campbell
Long and Foster REALTORS® 5234 Monticello Ave Williamsburg, Virginia - Williamsburg, VA
REALTOR® ABR, SFR, SRES Williamsburg, Virginia

I seriously don't understand how some agents conduct their business! This is no way to help sell the property.

May 03, 2018 08:00 PM #128
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