Realestate Agent Threatening to Cancel Selling Contract

Dear Ozbargain Community,

My Father is in his late 60's and looking towards retiring. He had planned to sell his investment property to pay off his mortgage. The property has been rented out for nearly 12 years + with one real estate company (A very large Australia wide company), we have had many agents take care of the property in the rental department and they have been a mixed bag. He in August made the decision to sell the property. We made a contact with the agency in regards to selling the property, to compensate the agency depending on their performance. Eg if they received offers that were very high compared to the market price we would give them nearly double the normal commission, for the price they managed to obtain above the value we expected. I think we all expected a price in the 300000-330000, the agent managed to get an offer of 360000.

We were happy with the offer and signed the contract on Monday (4th October), all parties had signed. Today the real estate agent called my father demanding a further doubling of the percentage they would receive over the expected price. When my father kindly advised her we had already signed the contract and that she was already being compensated more than any of the other real estate quotes we received, she said she wanted to crush the contract and would be advising the buyers that they are overpaying for the property. I personally don't work in this field of work, however, this feels morally ambiguous.

Is there anything that we are able to do?
Are there any government bodies we can convey this information to?

My father was quite shocked by this, he is quite scared to raise this with the manager of the agency, as he worries the agent will try to interfere with the contract.
Any advice is very much appreciated and thank you in advance.

Further clarification, the Property is in outer Brisbane area (Ipswich), it is a small house on a small block and quite old. Hence the pricing. Unfortunately we do not live in Brisbane but interstate:

The contract with the buyer has a 2 weeks period for pest, building and finance. If the buyer in those two weeks decides not go ahead with the purchase we have no recourse.

My dad has already agreed to increase the real estates commission because of their ability to get a higher price. For the 30K they managed to get more than we anticipated they will be getting an additional percentage on top of he normal rate. They came back to us yesterday asking for a bigger commission.

Comments

  • +39

    Probably best to contact Fair Trading QLD:
    https://www.qld.gov.au/law/fair-trading

    • +5

      Actually REIQ should be contacted too.
      I hope Dad has documented this because then he can sue the hell out of the real estate agency…

      • +1

        I think REIQ is a bad idea

        They are the industry body representing real estate agents they aren’t going to help consumers

  • +56

    Crazy - imagine being talked into a place by REA like yeah nah nah it’s a good price. I’d buy it myself but you know reasons

    Next day: OI NAH YOU’RE GETTING RIPPED MATE

  • +70

    this feels morally ambiguous

    There is no ambiguity, it is outright blackmail if accurate. Are you sure there isn't some sort of miscommunication here? I mean agents aren't the brightest sparks, but openly blackmailing their client is a bit much even for them.

    Assuming it is all correct, try and get something in writing or even a phone call recording (if legal in your state), and take it to the principal. If that does nothing, I would be going straight to the relevant regulatory body (in fact I would consider just doing that without involving the principal at all).

    Alternately just tell her if she gets you double the price, she gets double the commission!

    • +2

      "agents aren't the brightest sparks". That made me chuckle.

  • +5

    Are you in QLD? Many states have a public register to check their licence like:

    https://www.qld.gov.au/law/laws-regulated-industries-and-acc...

    Might give you some background on the person?
    Do you have a copy of the contract at all? I'm not a lawyer but I definitely find it difficult to believe someone can go against the contract "just by ripping it up", I'd definitely take it to your states Fair Trading, it may have negative consequences on the agents licence in the future.

    I also imagine the larger company may be interested to know if themselves or even franchisees are using their name to break contract rules.

    I'm a newb but do sellers have a conveyancer/solicitor to talk to?

  • +45

    I would call their bluff. Ask them to request this in writing and then take it to fair trading or whatever authority.

    I am pretty sure by law that an agent has to act in the interest of the seller.

    I am pretty sure the agent would lose their licence for something like this.

    • +13

      Agree - Asking for the request in writing will make this go away.

    • +2

      Yep. Soon as you ask for it in writing she will know she's up **** creek. If it's not in writing, your dad can argue it never happened. If she recorded the conversation, then it can be used against her anyway, so I doubt she'll follow through with her bluff.

    • he's in qld so I believe the law there states you can record phone conversations without telling the other party up front. He should record the conversation where he is asking them to give him the thing in writing, because we all know they won't give him anything in writing.That way even when they don't he has still got em by the balls -not legal advice, DYOR

  • +25

    this feels morally ambiguous.

    The REA has NO morals.

    Absolutely disgusting!

    • +8

      I thought no morals was a requirment for the industry?

  • +16

    Properties sell themselves nowadays. All agents need to do is to list it, put their legs up, wait for phone calls and enjoy the bidding wars. Are you sure there are no miscommunications? Doing shit like this could get them into trouble.

    • +4

      I never understood why a website can't replace the REal estate agents completely. A nicely designed bot and 3D views can mostly negate need for speaking to them. All you need is some one to show the house to clients. A tesla robot should be able to do that shortly.

      • +36

        Yeah but then who's going to BS the interested parties with false offers from the other party, and have them in a false bidding war against each other.

        • LMAO!

        • +3

          AI is surely capable of that

        • +3

          Ebay does bidding. It works. Why cant it be the same for house?

          • +3

            @io: But who's going to pressure you by whispering in your ear with no regard for your personal circumstances or finances?

      • +2

        Computers are bad at lying and have a record of everything. Agents can lie and deny what happen and the law lets them get away with it.

        • -1

          Imagine Sheldon Cooper selling houses. Wonder who will do better Sheldon or a bot.

      • +1

        You can do that now, people chose not to do it.

        Most people just dont like dealing with other people, especially when it comes to money and negotiating. They much prefer to have a buffer, being the agent.

        to some extent agents can give you information about value and how to present a house and so forth; you can obviously get that in other ways but people like feeling they have received some expert advice when it comes to such a major purchase

        Plus when the market is hot everyone always says 'agents arent worth it' and when the market is cold people say 'my agent got me the sale'…

        • Guys, we found the agent ^

      • +1

        Yes, it can. Plenty of resources for landowners to sell a property themselves. I suppose, no company offering an alternate method of compensation in the "real estate sales" industry has succeeded. Go Gecko, which has tried to enter the market with fixed commissions, has not succeeded. There are plenty of "do it yourself" online providers, but sadly they have not penetrated the market enough to make the big REA franchises change their business models. The industry is ripe for disruption, but it is going to take an entity with significant startup capital to do so. Most online disruptors work with the existing real estate sales model, rather than try to disrupt it.

        For example, imagine REA website, owned by Mr. Murdoch, terminating all agreements with REA companies Australia wide and only allowing home owners to list directly with them, through their own subsidiary company.

        • +3

          Hope some Real estate Elon Musk is reading this. I hate REA because the only qualification they need is a suit and a car. Maybe two thumbs and voice box.

          I don't understand how they are earn 40k from one sale where the house literally sells itself.

  • +12

    This is very strange. You can't just void a contract that's been signed by multiple parties.

    • I would assume it is subject to building & pest, finance, etc, so not unconditional yet. The agent is (apparently) threatening to call the buyer and tell them they are paying too much to try and influence the buyer so they would potentially try to exercise one of those conditions to pull out.

      • +3

        If I was the buyer and the agent called me out of the blue and suggested I pull out for any reason, I would be very suspicious of their motivation.

      • +1

        This makes no sense. If the buyer pulls out the agent loses her commission.

        OP's father hasn't actually handed over any money to this snake yet, has he? After all if one side of a contract can tear it up then the other can too.

  • +3

    What a strange thing to do, but also not surprised that a REA is a greedy sod

    How's the agreement/contract with the agent? That should stipulate the terms.

  • yea, tell them put it in writing, and you will see what your lawyer says to do

  • What commission terms are outlined in the contract you signed with the agent?

    • +2

      Yes, the commission terms were all pre agreed upon and they could have attempted to negotiate prior to signing the contract. My father was shocked they would try to threaten instead of negotiate to begin with.

      • Just refer them to the contract and remind them that you had already been generous with your terms regarding additional commission (which I assume was added to the contract)

  • +23

    I am sorry but I find this story dubious.

    I as a vendor can call up the buyer right now and admit that I ripped him for $30k as I would have accepted $30k less and still he would have no recourse.

    Then there is the contract signed with the agent, that compels / protects both parties.

    I see nothing in this 'threat' that makes it enforceable, and by someone that relies solely on contracts to make a living, sounds odd that theyd threaten to go outside the contract.

    This could be a scammer intercepting communications between the two parties.

    I would ask to speak to the principal of the REA and spell out the details and see where it goes.

    DO NOT pay anything, sign anything until you or your solicitor understands the terms.

    • Easy as pie for the buyer to get out of those standard contracts. There are usually two clauses in there which allow the buyer to pull out and keep their deposit; one of them can easily be fudged.

      • Could you please tell what these clauses are?

        • 'Subject to finance'
          'Subject to building inspection'

          Would be my guess.

          • @EightImmortals: Yes, you are correct they are able to leave for 2 weeks with no recourse. It is subject to finance and pest/building.

          • @EightImmortals: Yep.

            Plus, subject to finance is a very easy one to get out of. A lot of brokers will just make your finance offer "fail" if you ask them to.

            • @CheeseBeans: As the seller I'd want that fail on a banks letterhead and not a brokers.

              • @Yawhae: I'm not at all advocating it, but intentional failed finance to rescind on contracts definitely happens

      • Easy as pie for the buyer to get out of those standard contracts

        Compacc said 'standard contracts'. Standard contracts don't have 'subject to finance/ pest/ building' as a clause.

  • +1

    we would give them nearly double the normal commission …. she was already being compensated more than any of the other real estate quotes we received

    I guess the question is did Dad pays REA the promised commission? The amount promised and the amount paid to REA is very vague. Nearly double vs more than any of the real estate quotes can have a big difference.

    Whether or not the property is overpriced, the bank will do a property valuation before approving any loan (assuming buyer taking loan). The REA won't trash talk to the buyer, as they probably have told the buyer this is the best price the buyer can get. Their reputation is on the table as well I guess.

    • Yes, we already agreed to pay them the amount they wanted. Sorry I can’t not recall the exact percentages, but if their base commission was 3.5% for up to 330.000. After 330,000 the commission would jump to 7%, of the amount above 330,000. She wants 14% of the amount above $330000 now.

      • But you have not actually handed over any money yet, and if the sale falls through because the REA made it do so then she will not get any money.

        So REA is in a poor position to negotiate changes to your contract with her - in fact, if anything you could threaten HER with a renegotiation. As others said stay cool, get it in writing and then threaten her with the law.

      • +4

        If there is nothing in writing - pay 3.5% for above 330k and tell them to (profanity) off. Check your contracts with agents.

      • Don't budge on this.

        If the contract falls through she loses all her commission, then just sell it privately :)

      • Tell them if they wanted that much commission they should have gotten $390k

      • WOW 14%! I sold a property in Brisbane for 2.8% commission and let me tell you, the house sold itself!

      • Tell them you're in a position to only consider any request presented in writing.

        Record any future conversations (unilateral recording should probably be OK, but double check if you are concerned) and revert to "please send this as an email" quickly.

  • +12

    Name and shame

  • +7

    Wow, and here I thought I'd heard all the tricks of how pathetic REAs are…

    Easy solution. Tell them you will take them to court and, when you do find a new buyer, it won't matter that their offer is less than the orignal signed price, the REA can pay the differences in damages when they lose in court, that's if they make it inside without any legs because they clearly have nothing to stand on.

    Better yet, they rip up the contract, then get dad to sell the house to you for $1 and get the other $359,999 in damages off the REA in court.

    • +3

      Unfortunately they made this threat over the phone and I highly doubt they would provide the threat in writing.

      Buyers also have 2 weeks to leave the contract as it is subject to finance, they are able to leave with no recourse.

      • +1

        Just call their bluff and hope they cancel the contract, why would you want to give them any money?

        Depending what state you're in you can also just record the phone call (here in Vic we can record if we're party to convo), I'd play dumb and get them to confess the scumbaggery while recording the call.. then sue. lol

  • +13

    Lmao. That’s insane. And totally illegal. Ring the main office and speak to the principal of the real estate - if they play silly buggers they will shit their pants if you put that in writing and say you will speak to fair trading in your state about the matter

    • +2

      or ask on their facebook page for the world to see.

  • When my father kindly advised her we had already signed the contract and that she was already being compensated more than any of the other real estate quotes we received,

    So does this contract include a clause that doubles the amount of commission on the excess $30k, as promised by your dad? Because I can only imagine that the agent would get that pissed if your dad goes back on his word.

    • demanding a further doubling of the percentage they would receive over the expected price.

      I am pretty sure OP's father is already willing to pay the excess commission, REA is asking to further double their already above board compensation agreed to.

      • Yeh, I read that bit too but there seems to be something missing. REAs are not the nicest people and Im not defending them, but what was said sounds like an angry outburst (without any thought).

        • +1

          Yes, we already agreed to pay them the amount they wanted. Sorry I can’t not recall the exact percentages, but if their base commission was 3.5% for up to 330.000. After 330,000 the commission would jump to 7%, of the amount above 330,000. She wants 14% of the amount above $330000 now.

          • @Bob12345: Interesting - did the agent give a reason to quadruple their original commission on that part over $330,000? Tell that agent to get stuffed and, as others have said, report it to the principal agent as a threat - especially since your dad has held up his end of the deal.

  • +5

    If the contract is signed then its all done and dusted, if the real estate agent interferes by destroying the contract you can sue them and get their real estate license revoked.

    They would have a lot more to lose than you do.

  • +2

    Go with him to the REA's office and have a chat. Either info isn't accurate in the retelling of the story, or you'll be able to set the agent straight when they know their boss is in the next office and could be ruining a sale (and commission for the business).

    Either way you'd have your answer without any doubt

  • +2

    Troll?

    • +1

      I wish that was the case, wanted to see what the communities advice is.

      • Maybe speak to your solicitor. Would have better knowledge then most people here.

      • name and shame on social media, once their reputation is damaged they'll change their tune very quickly. Also go to another agent, the market is very hot at the moment, any idiot could get you the same sale

    • Yeah, I suspect so too.

      Have not ever heard of an agent threatening to "crush" a signed contract. Lol.

  • Member since 11hrs ago.
    Also, is this property in a city? What sells for 360,000 these days?

    • +2

      Car parking spaces.

    • In Melbourne, it'd be the small studio apartments with no parking.

      • It'd be a garage, or maybe a granny flat in Sydney

  • +2

    Do you have the buyers details? Get your solicitor to contact them and see if they want to void the contract with the real estate and buy it directly for the original price minus what you were paying the agent.

    • +2

      I don’t know if we can legal do this, I would imagine their is something in the contract with the REA stopping this sort of behaviour.

      • +1

        I was about to suggest this too as you could sell to the buyer at slightly cheaper (ie. without the REA commission). But, I recently sold a house, and I did read in the contract that there was a clause that even if the sale contract ended (for whatever reason, eg, buyer finance fell through) and if I still sold it to them within X period, that the commission was still to be paid to REA.

        REA only handles the sales pitch and advertising for you. You could sell it without the REA involvement.

        • +1

          At least if this clause is invoked OP is no worse off.

          Also OP, get some automatic call recording on you dads phone.

        • +1

          surely the REA blackmailing the seller voids the original contract though?

          send an email. "as per our phone discussion on <date> we would like a meeting to discuss the new terms of the selling contract with the following <details> you requested in the phone call. please ensure that <dealer principle> is available for said meeting"

  • +12

    Tell them to do it.

    If the sale falls through, find a new agent to relist it.

    You already know that the market values the property at 360,000 so that is what it is worth.

    Pay new agent normal commission, they don't deserve a cent more.

    • 100% this. Consent to them cancelling the contract and find another agent. There is no way I would be comfortable with this agent acting for me.

  • +10

    Real Estate agents are the SCUM of the earth.

    Used Car Salesman are nearly angelic compared to these trash. PS: I am a licened RE.

    • i think when it is a seller's market and they just dont care about treading on ppl etc not all but yeh

  • +1

    real estate agent is trying to strong arm your dad

    report that greasy vermin to the authorities

  • +2

    Did you agree to the additional commissions you've stated above in writing? Or any commissions in writing at all? If you only have the orginal amount in writing ie 3.5%, id fire back at them and tell them look we only signed for 3.5% regardless of the final sale amount..

    They won't tell you that in writing, instead why don't you send an email to them stating "as per our conversation on bla bla @ bla, you have requested bla. As per our agreement prior to the signing of the contract we agreed to bla. You have now requested bla which is above what was agreed to previously. I note you have stated that you will tell the seller bla, which is absolutely unacceptable. As per the contract, you will recieve bla compensation, if there are any issues, respond to me via email by bla".

  • +5

    If you and the agent are in QLD, call the agent again and have a discussion about the issue again. But this time, remember recording the conversation without their consent. You cannot release the recording to public, but you can use this in court. Ask your lawyer about best approach, but you might even be able to stop the agent from sabotaging the contract if you have the recording.

    If the agent indeed conduct such behaviour to sabotage the contract, i would consider suing for the loss using the recording as evidence.

    Recording private conversations
    In Queensland, it’s not illegal to simply record a conversation you’re involved in (either over the phone or face-to-face) without the consent of the other people involved in the conversation, but there are restrictions on what you can do with the recording. It is illegal to record private conversations that you’re not involved in - get legal advice.
    Source: Legalaid.qld.gov.au

  • Call their bluff.

    and why would you offer double their commission is the more important question? Is it a shithole?

  • Yea, call her bluff. If nothing happens, then good. If the contract fell through for any reason, find another agent because this agent is extremely dodgy. Agents are falling over themselves for listings these days.

  • You could call their bluff.

    So sale = no commission.

    Surely they would prefer to make money.

  • +2

    As your father would or should already have a solicitor or conveyancer involved, I would make them aware of the what's happening. Perhaps a sternly worded communication from them would resolve it or prevent it from escalating further.

        • +6

          Don't worry, I always welcome criticism / challenges. This is how we collectively develop our knowledge base.

          Is it? Obviously, you think you're above everyone else because in your first post, you've already said "Firstly, don't come to ozBargain for quasi-legal advice. You have people chiming in with no legal background or have never bought or sold a property. Whats the point of listening to that?".

          And then after that, you go on an spew out your own two cents (that also isn't entirely accurate!) lol

          • +1

            @bobbified: Sure, re-reading that first sentence, one might have the wrong impression. Let me rephrase:

            "Seek proper legal advice for these scenarios. Here's my 2c on the situation as a layman but you have been warned"

            I'm all ears on your criticism btw…. please correct me.