The dance begins

The mating dance between (house) buyer and seller has begun and I’m so nervous that I’m climbing the walls. My tenant is interested in buying my property (in Joburg) and so I approached two Estate Agents for valuations before submitting my initial pitch (or selling offer) to the potential buyer this morning. I thought I did pretty well. Drawing attention to all the good features of the house while explaining my reasoning process and then cutting a further little bit off the price for good will (and in lieu of painting etc.) Now I sit and wait for their response. Experience tells me that they won’t be happy with anything less than a sizeable discount and I’m going to try and hang tough with my original offer.

An added and very unwanted complication is that the Estate Agents who showed my house last year are trying to muscle in on the action and get a commission. So of course I swung into lawyer mode and fired off this regrettable response:

… to be honest I don’t believe that our original agreement still stands. As I understand it, the agreement was that A would get a commission if the property was sold for X amount. If B agrees to buy at the current price that would be a separately negotiated transaction between herself and me, which was negotiated independently of your involvement. If she is not able to buy then I would be happy to enter into a new agreement with A (as well as with another Estate agent) for a joint mandate. Sorry if there was any misunderstanding about the terms of the agreement. If A had found the buyer and negotiated a purchasing agreement then I would of course accept that a commission was due but in this case, the discussions between B and myself have been independent of any Real Estate involvement.

Ouch – I should have been a lawyer. However, I also know that this kind of thing (legal wrangling) leaves me all shakey and anxious. What if they play hardball here? Or what if I have to crawl back to them and beg them to sell my house for me because the tenant is not able to get a bond (which could well be the case)? One step at a time. Breathe. And go with the flow. Altogether now: “… and five six seven eight.”

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8 Responses to The dance begins

  1. Natalian says:

    Estate Agents do tend to bring out the worst in me. When selling through them I find it useful to tell them the amount I want after they take their commission – I find that there is always room for them to cut their commission so you can get your price. Good Luck!

  2. I hope it works out well!

  3. doctordi says:

    Pete, I think your letter sounds perfectly reasonable and fair. Why should they get a commission if they’re not remotely involved in the sale??

  4. Pete says:

    Natalian, Lilian, Di – Thanks. Estate agents emailed me to say they agree about the old deal being off so that’s a big relief.

  5. litlove says:

    Pete – it’s so easy to lose oneself in this kind of interaction. Write down on a piece of paper what it is that you want – whether it’s the right price on your house, or whatever – then put it in an envelope and store it somewhere safe. Then get it out and read it whenever the whole situation starts to get to you. Keep it simple! Because these things mess with your head and your emotions – I speak as one who finds them very hard to deal with! Very glad to hear that the former estate agents are now sorted out. Sounds like that actually went very well – good on you.

  6. doctordi says:

    Brilliant! And good on you for fighting your own corner.

  7. Natalian says:

    Glad to hear your “Legalese” paid off!

  8. Sheesh, an expired contract is an expired contract. However, for the potential benefit of other readers — most estate agents’ listing contracts do actually include a clause requiring payment of commission after the contract is expired, if the agent can prove that he or she was the procuring cause of the sale (for example, that the buyer responded to advertising, called off a for sale sign, or ever spoke to the agent in a way that led to further interest in the sale). This is a clause that I routinely waive when I fill out my paperwork, but most agents don’t.

    Ah, Natalian … someday, have a good real estate agent sit down and explain to you where that commission actually goes. We see so very little of it, after expenses are paid … and a good agent spends so much time on the transaction that you never see or understand. On an average deal, I end up being paid perhaps $20 per hour of time I spend. And how would you feel if your boss asked you to take a pay cut, after you’d done your job just as you said you would? I don’t deny that we do it, but often it’s to avoid the worse fallout of never being paid at all.

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