March To A Solution - Don’t Be Caught In The Middle

Real Estate Agent with HomeSmart SA541769000

There is no question real estate can be a complicated profession. As an Agent you have to be a perceptive consultant, a cautious critic, you must be a good listener, and exhibit a lot of patience. 

When you are representing the seller, you have to excel at helping them present their property in the best possible way.

 If you are representing the buyer, you have to help them locate the best homes and negotiate a fair deal.

 Each of these roles requires a set of skills that do not necessarily come naturally. Sometimes the clients act in ways that are different from how I might act.

 But what happens when the buyer – or in this case buyers – are not in agreement with what they want? If the agent tries to please one partner, the other is unhappy. It puts the agent in no win situation.

I know that I am not alone when I say it happened to me. Any agent who has been in the business for more than a few years has encountered it. But it is a situation we need to avoid.

In my case, one partner was ready to retire. They wished to relocate to an active adult community here in the Phoenix metro. The other wasn’t as sure but was willing to look at homes and evaluate their new lifestyle.

On the surface, their criteria seemed simple. A mid-sized home with good bones and a livable floorplan. If the home needed updating or minor repairs that were okay because they had ideas on how they wanted the house to look after purchase. Both were handy and had experience with remodels, so the value was more important than perfection.

After touring several nice homes that seemed to meet their needs, one partner added additional criteria to the wish list that made the search more difficult.

After resetting their search parameters, we toured several homes that met the new standard. During the showings, several other provisos were added. Not wishes, but demands.

Based on the new parameters we found a house that seemed to check all the boxes. Partner 1 was thrilled, partner 2 agreed to make an offer and the sale progressed. Partner 2 returned home leaving partner 1 to finalize the transaction.

The transaction proceeded as normal through escrow, inspections, repairs, and re-inspection. It seemed all systems go.

As the closing date rolled around partner 2 began to question their choice. At the final walkthrough, partner 2 began to find issues with not only the home but the entire idea of relocation.

The day before closing partner 2 informed me they would not be closing. “The deal is off.”

Partner 1 looked to me for help. It wasn’t my job to convince them that Arizona was their future.

My job went from real estate sales to damage control. I had to do my best to negotiate them out of the deal. Which I did at the cost of a sale and a commission that I should have earned but would not collect. We always hear that real estate sales should be a win-win. This deal turned out to be a lose-lose for all the parties.

In the end, I did all I could. The buyers were not on the same page and I became the man in the middle.

I probably should have asked for an upfront retainer fee, but it is not common in Arizona and hindsight is always 20/20. Suing for the lost commission may have cost more than the award.

It became one of those experiences you try not to talk about but can’t forget.


Posted by

© 2022 Joseph Domino All Rights Reserved

Comments (10)

Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate Services

Hello, Joseph Domino 480-390-6011 - If we have been in the business long enough that, or something similar, has happened, or will happen. That was painful to read. I am sorry you endured that.

Thank you for sharing it and for participating in the March to a Solution Challenge. 

Mar 25, 2023 02:19 PM
Charles Ross - (785)-819-6944
eXp Realty LLC Salina Group - Salina, KS
Love To Help People

Excellent Information. Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful day and a blessed weekend.

Mar 25, 2023 03:47 PM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Joseph Domino 480-390-6011 - I don't think I ever heard of a CE called Damage Control, but that's not a bad idea. To be stuck in the middle must have felt like you were trapped no matter what you suggested. Not all agents have a win-win. It's the lose-lose lessons in life that teaches us more than an easy sale. Had the sale felt manipulated or pushed into going forward, it would have been far worse. Sometimes, all you can do is take the High Road, cut your losses, and wish others well.

Thank you for having the courage to write a story that no doubt will help others now or perhaps in the future. Yours was a great entry and you are appreciated.

Mar 25, 2023 03:52 PM
Ed (Edward) Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

That's tough and surely a harsh lesson to take. Had they had the conversation initially and never called you all would have been better.

Mar 25, 2023 05:24 PM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Joseph - not every real estate has a happily-ever-after ending although it can feel quite good to move on after a not-so-pleasant experience.  

Mar 26, 2023 03:41 AM
Dan Hopper
Dan Hopper - Gold Way RE - Westminster, CO
Denver Broker / Real Estate Advocate

Yes. those nasty lessons in the life of a real estate broker,  ... we all do our best to provide the best Buyer / Seller preparation about buying or selling and the consequences when 1 party wants to walk away the prior to closing.  AND, even the day of closing.  Sometimes, even the buyer knowing their earnest money is at risk  ... does not change the mind of those wanting to back out.  Thanks for this story.

Mar 26, 2023 11:35 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

I'm sorry to hear about that! And right at the last minute, too. Geez.

Mar 26, 2023 11:49 AM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Joseph Domino 480-390-6011 - thanks again for this really good entry! I just wanted you to know, the challenge ends this Friday in case you wanted to get one or two more in before the deadline.

I hope things are going well for you!

Mar 26, 2023 10:30 PM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much for sharing this story. Definitely a challenging situation.

Mar 31, 2023 10:46 AM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

Oh, Joe! What a sad experience. Yet, you served your clients as a fiduciary in the highest manner. 

Apr 07, 2023 03:34 PM