buyer rights once in escrow
While I am not an advocate for trying to get out of a home purchase contract, I sure seem to attract a lot of buyers who are working with some other agent and want to cancel their transaction. The conversations usually begin innocently enough, and they don’t always tell me they are in the middle of a sale transaction right off the bat. I generally have to ask pointed questions to extract that information.
They aren’t trying to take advantage of my knowledge when they call, either. Most of these buyers are very upfront about wanting to hire me. The only problem is they are a day late and a dollar short, as the saying goes. They should have hired me from the beginning but for whatever reason, did not. So it’s often on the tail end of transactions that they think about calling me for help, especially when they want to get out of a home purchase contract.
The problem with this scenario is I can’t really advise them. For the obvious reason being that I am not their Sacramento Realtor. They already have a Realtor working for them, and it is against the Code of Ethics for any other Realtor to interfere in an existing transaction. When I explain this, the argument is often: Oh, but I’m not asking you to interfere. I’m just asking . . . which amounts to interfering.
The unhappy buyers probably hope they are sweetening the discussion by promising to work with me. That’s like promising to marry a person when you’re still married to somebody else. Ain’t gonna happen until you get divorced. And a buyer, once in contract, cannot divorce her agent to marry another. She can ask the agent’s broker to assign a different agent from the brokerage to her file, but she’s gotta dance with the brokerage who brung her to the party.
Further, after all of the buyer contingencies are removed, if you want to get out of the purchase contract, you’ll have to give up your earnest money deposit. Not to mention, the seller might demand liquidated damages. Messy, icky situation. On top of which, Realtors are not lawyers and cannot provide legal advice.
I try to show empathy for those stuck in these types of situations. I understand how frustrating it can be to feel like you do not want to buy the house you have committed to purchase in addition to wanting to fire your agent. It’s like a double whammy. There is a place and time to fire an agent, not when you’re ready to close escrow, though.
Funny thing, though. A woman I spoke to about this very situation last year called me recently and now wants to sell that house. She was astonished I recalled our conversation, since I talk to so many people. I don’t recall much of her conversation, honestly, but I do recall her pain, her agony. That won’t happen this time around.