If you made a bad investment in the stock market, would you demand that your broker cut his fee because you were going to lose money? If you were selling your car and didn’t have enough to cover the loan payout, do you ask the dealer to close the gap on the short fall so you are not out-of-pocket? So imagine this; you are selling a house with a pool and the buyer discovers a week before closing that the pool heaved up from the ground and needed total replacement, it was not properly closed (your fault). You ask the agent to get estimates for repairs and the attorneys for both sides come to an agreement. It all sounds reasonable until I am informed that your attorney has built into the negotiation a reduction in fee that is one-third less than what we are entitled to in our listing contract. Your attorney does not ask if we would consider reducing our commission but instead informs us we are reducing our fee because his client now has to concede to a lessor price due to the pool disaster. Oh, and did I forget to mention, we had 6 hours to accept the offer or receive nothing.
I never figured out how the pool became our problem, we had the property listed for almost two years, the agent and company received glowing reports in all our communication with the owner. The listing agent brought the buyer and went above and beyond the normal scope of her responsibilities all through the transaction, we had documentation that both parties felt they were represented fairly and honestly. Everything was fine until we would not contribute to the pool fund.
The good news is we evoked the “Commission Escrow Act” a little known law that gives Real Estate Brokers in New York the right to file with the county clerk after putting the owner on notice for commissions we “suspect” will not be paid. At the closing it is paid to the county clerks office until such time a judge would decide who it belongs to. Our corporate counsel attended the closing for our agent who felt the environment was too hostile and after much debate and drama we were paid in full. Clearly the attorney for the seller did not believe we actually expected to be paid for the job we did, instead he thought we should donate about $7,000 to his clients next venture, moving costs or attorneys fees, I am not sure which. It’s strange to me to think I would ask my accountant, doctor, stock broker or my realtor to reimburse me because of my negligence or bad decisions.