Buying a house with an expired listing

littlebug5May 16, 2010

Two and a half years ago, a realtor showed us a house he had listed. We made an offer at the time with a contingency that we sell our house first. The seller would not accept the offer because of our contingency. Well, we never did sell our house, and the house we looked at never sold either. The listing expired.

Fast forward to today. We are revitalizing our efforts to sell our house and will be more realistic about its pricing (we think). We'd still like to buy the house we looked at before. It is not currently on the market, but we know the owner personally and are pretty sure he still wants to sell.

My question: Can we work out a deal to buy the other house - direct from the owner - and not have an obligation to the realtor who showed it to us in the first place?

Clarification: in our area, it is NOT customary to work with a buyer's agent. In fact, I had never heard of a buyer's agent until I read about that concept on this forum. The realtor who showed us the house was the seller's agent.

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If you approach the sellers and they agree to a private sale, there is nothing wrong with it, though I would absolutely get my lawyer involved to be sure everything necessary is covered properly. However, you have still not sold your house, so are you thinking of putting in another contingency offer (which may again not be accepted)?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 4:01PM
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Most listing agreements have a "carry over" period, after the listing expires, during which time the seller will owe the agent a commission. I would think that at 2.5 years they would be well beyond that period, but they might want to check their paperwork to see.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 6:13PM
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Thanks. No, we are not considering another contingency offer (he didn't accept it before and we have no reason to think he would accept it now). We would not make an offer until our house sold.

The carry-over issue is what we are concerned about.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 8:33PM
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Hi littlebug5, you would not have any obligation to the realtor regardless of the circumstances, since he was the listing agent for the property. The seller is the only one that signed a contact with him. If the seller ends up owing him a commission (depending on his contract) it would come out of the proceeds of the sale and would be the seller's issue, not yours. I.e. if after the fact, the realtor thought a commission was owed and went to court, the seller would be the one getting sued and potentially paying the money, not you. I would let the seller deal with any potential ramifications of their listing agent's contract and stay out of it. Best of luck in selling your home.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 8:24AM
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Yes, I realize that I don't have an obligation to the realtor. I am interested because of the effect it would have on my offering price. I could offer 6% less than I offered two and a half years ago and the seller would net the same amount.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 9:28PM
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If it were me, I would send a thank you note to the original agent who showed me the house, along with a gift card to a nice restaurant.

I know that my listing agreement for my most recent house sale had a 6 month clause in it -- if someone who she had shown the house to purchased the house within 6 months of the end of the contract, I owed that agent a commission.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 9:17PM
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