Just Doing Right by Me

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Top Properties

"Buyers are liars." My assumption is that this phrase isn't foreign to you. It certainly wasn't me as I learned it in my first office about a month after breaking into real estate. I have always found it cheesy, defeatist, and a pretty good indicator that agents that say it aren't spectacular at their job. Now I know that's the same rash generalization that they are making- but whatever.

A couple months back I received a referral from a family friend (technically our wives are really good friends and we're friendly acquaintances). After speaking with this gentleman for an hour or so and explaining the finer points and process of buying a home I met the young buyer and his fiancee at a house and showed them another couple. He still wasn't pre-approved, but I didn't fret, he was a nice, honest, young man working two jobs....

Some time goes by and he wants to go out again. STILLdoesn't have a pre-approval and hasn't signed an Exclusive Buyer Representation agreement with me. I hem, I haw and take them out again without either. "Heck, he's a referral from a mutual friend and he has a limited schedule- he'll get approved as soon as he can and I know he's not going to screw me over."

They don't see anything they fall in immediate love with and some more time goes by. I continue to email them properties and with my schedule in case they want to check into anything we have yet to see. Then, FINALLY, I get an e-mail that he's pre-approved although he wants to work on his credit and get a "better pre-approval".

Would you like to table your search for the time being while you do that?

"Nah. I'm still interested in looking." So I continue sending properties his way until a few days later:

"Hey, I am going to table my search for a little while." Not a problem- would you like me to disable the properties being e-mailed to you or would you like to see what's hitting and falling off the market while you work on the credit? "Oh, I'd love to be kept up to date on the market, thanks!"

Cool. What a well out together guy. Then I get this email about 3 days ago:

I just wanted to get your home address so i can send somthing to you. Dont worrie nothing crazy or dangerous. Just a Thank you gift. Im sorry if i wasted your time at all. Thanks for all your help.

Wow. How sweet! VERY few actually appreciate their REALTOR so much that they'll send him a thank you gift...So I reply, "Hey man- your thank you gift to me is allowing me to mail YOUR home address with a bunch of cards to pass out to your friends and loved ones. Tell them I'll work diligently and honestly for them, like you."

Two days later, I get this: 

Hey Jim   I just wanted to do right by you by letting you know i have found a house through a friend whom is also a Realtor. I'm sorry for wasting your time.

Well Hell's Bells! If there is a way to "do right by me" it's anything other than "wasting my time" and using some scumbag, cherry picking agent on the side. You didn't know your friend was an agent before needing a referral and working with me for 6 weeks or so?  Under my general premise I would say that this is my fault and I didn't serve the client like I SHOULD. However, he wants to send me thank you gifts and never one had reason to take exception to the job I was doing for him. Ultimately it IS on me, however, for not having him sign the buyer's representation agreement, so I give him the reply he was looking for:

I sure appreciate the gesture of doing right by me but it's not necessary. You didn't waste my time, sir- it's my job. Now granted it's a job I'm not going to be compensated for. Normally I would have never shown you and your bride-to-be a single house without a pre-approval and wouldn't have taken you on another showing without your signing an exclusive buyer relationship agreement....giving me the same respect and confidence back that I was putting out. I went against better judgment and did neither because you were a referral from [mutual friend].   You don't owe me a thing but honesty and no matter how late it comes out- I sure do appreciate that, sir. I hope you understand that I'm going to disable that automatic search immediately. Not because I'm a jerk or anything like that- but out of respect to your agent- whom I assume is not a REALTOR because a REALTOR doesn't pirate people's clients like that. I won't step on the toes of another...

 ...and in response I get this from his fiancee (on his email address):

Well now I guess you know better than to go against your better judgement.

ZING! Burn City...and sad but true. While I sent her back a simple email of well wishes "[fiancee], Good luck with everything!" I realized she was absolutely right.

I DOknow better than to go against my better judgment now! A buyer's representation agreement is a long-winded form commitment we give to each other. Will you be loyal to me as I work my butt off for you? I work for free until the day you get the keys to your new home- at which time I'm reimbursed for my hours of service.

So mom, dad, bro, friends, past clients and future ones- when we discuss viewing homes and I reference the agreement that you'll have to sign in order to work with me- I'll also pass you this blog post or regale the story upon you so you know exactly why. No matter how honest I think you are....it's the best way you can do right by me!

Posted by


Jim Ludes is a REALTOR with Century 21 Coleman-Hornsby in Grundy and Will County, IL. If you have a question about real estate that he might be able to help with, email him at Jim@JimLudes.com or call/text at 815-712-7786. If you'd rather observe from afar or become friends first, check him out at:

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Comments (12)

James G. Pycha
James Pycha (R) - REMAX KAUAI - Princeville, HI
(R), REMAX Kauai Broker

Hi Jim:  Thank You for your post. What do you think about the future of this site?  Where's it going ?



Jul 26, 2008 04:45 AM
Vickie McCartney
Maverick Realty - Owensboro, KY
Broker, Real Estate Agent Owensboro KY

Jim~ Ouch! That hurts.  Unfortunately those things happen, and that is why the buyer's agreement is there to use so that we are all on the "same page".....

Jul 26, 2008 04:50 AM
Jim Ludes
RE/MAX Top Properties - Coal City, IL
Grundy/Will County, IL REALTOR

Active Rain just went over 100,000 members! I don't think it's going away anytime soon...this is the best tool REALTORS don't know about!

Vickie- it's a rough go- but you're 100% right..

Jul 26, 2008 04:55 AM
Brendan Murphy
Raving Real Estate - Laramie, WY
Broker, CRS, GRI, ASP, e-Pro

Yes, it's an interesting job.... You're there on the boat, holding the pole, with a big fish thrashing on the other end, for twenty minutes.  Suddenly another fisherman comes by in a motorboat holding a big net and grabs the fish you've been fighting for. 


All you can do is smile and rebait the hook.

Jul 26, 2008 04:57 AM
Mary Warren
Las Vegas, NV

Jim - sorry this happened to you.  I think most of us have had this happen 100 times in our careers.  It still hurts BAD! A thank you gift.....yeah right....what a gift certificate for dinner, or some flowers....not enough to compensate us for time and effor, not to mention gas, involved.  I'd rather have a buyer totally do a turn around and change their mind and not buy than to do this to me.  It's hard to do but chalk it up to experience and move on.

Jul 26, 2008 05:16 AM
Jim Ludes
RE/MAX Top Properties - Coal City, IL
Grundy/Will County, IL REALTOR
Brendan- killer analogy....I guess we can only hope that those pirate agents (fish stealers) soon find they're allergic to seafood.
Jul 26, 2008 05:16 AM
Jim Ludes
RE/MAX Top Properties - Coal City, IL
Grundy/Will County, IL REALTOR

Mary- you bet....If he wants to send me a check for $300 or so, I'll live with it. If he wants to send me a Pizza Hut gift card, he can keep it! I'm not even all that upset that they've ended up with some other schmuck agent....it's the flat out lying to me that makes me irate!

Jul 26, 2008 05:19 AM
April Hayden-Munson
Brookfield, WI
Brookfield Wisconsin Real Estate

Jim - So sorry to hear this story.  It has happened to us all.  Even a buyer's agency may not have helped - you said it with "buyers are liars".

Aug 19, 2008 08:19 AM
Lori Gilmore
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Joliet, IL
Realtor - Will County Illinois

Jim-- Been there . . .hated being there.  Moving on is the best option.  If the other agent had any decency, he/she would offer you a referral fee at minimum.  I recently had a client whose close family friend is a veteran realtor.  The clients asked me to work with them because they preferred the way I explained the process and guided them as we went along.  They signed a buyer's agency agreement with me.  Despite that, the family friend sent them houses and they liked one that he found.  They called me and wanted to bid on it (HUD home)  I am representing them on the purchase, but offered a referral fee to the other agent anyway.  Felt like the right thing to do.

Aug 19, 2008 12:00 PM
Belinda OnullBrien
Elegant Stager - New Lenox, IL
Elegant Stager, New Lenox, IL

Hi Jim,

When we were selling our home and hired a Realtor she knew that my husbands brother was a brand new partime Realtor. She asked us at least 20 times if my husbands brother was ok with this. We told her that we discussed our decision with him ahead of time. (We did not want to mix family and business) We had a lot of respect for the Realtor that we hired because of the respect she had for fellow Realtors. Now that I read your story I'm sure she was afraid this would happen to her. It is so easy for buyers to look on the internet for homes, pick out what they want and then go to a Realtor and show them what they want. Why bother another Realtor? I don't get it. Just remember, not all buyers are liars! LOL

P.S. We love my husbands brother. We used him for buying our new home to even things out.

Jan 05, 2009 04:44 PM
Rich Quigley
Chicago, IL

Jim, Unfortunately, this happens fairly frequently, but you handled it well by remaining professional.

Jan 07, 2009 01:56 AM
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg Real Estate

Sorry you had to learn the lesson.  Wish you could have been spared, won't be stupid enough to say it's some sort of growing experience.  But it does make you wonder what happened?  Was he a better salesmen?  Better loan available that you didn't know about with his stinkin credit?  It's best to just forget about them and yell next!  Prosperous 2009 to you!

Jan 07, 2009 05:17 AM