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Agent Insights - Always Get It In Writing

Posted by Nicole Finzi

Aug 16, 2016 7:30:00 AM

In today's Agent Insights - Tony and Suzanne Marriott - Real Estate Brokers with Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty, discuss the importance of getting all aspects of business partnerships and transactions in writing so that all expectations are clear. 

Here are Tony and Suzanne:


Long ago and far far away....wait....that's a different story.

More than 5 years ago, we were handling (almost) exclusively Short Sales.

We were at a Brokerage who had asked us to move to them and help them handle their Short Sales (such as they were - few and far between).

We very carefully discussed and defined our business structure and processes in our ICA before joining this brokerage.

We had Co-List Agents for each Short Sale.

The selection of which agent within the brokerage would be the Co-List Agent depended on a variety of factors, including:

1. Did they bring in the Short Sale, and if so did they want to work it - or just receive a referral fee?

2. Were they committed to being fully available to "work" the Short Sale - regardless of personal time?

3. Were they competent (have experience) to work the Short Sale?

and the list goes on...

As we approached the December Holiday Season in 2010, an agent (who shall remain nameless), brought in a Short Sale Seller, indicated they wanted to "work" it, and had previous experience working Short Sales with me.

They were, therefore, selected as the Co-List Agent.

It became quickly apparent that the Short Sale Sellers would be "difficult."

Time dragged on and on, without them completing their Short Sale Seller's Homework, so the Listing Documents could not be created, and the Listing could not move forward (at least not with us).

Around December 24 if I recall correctly, an email arrived from the Sellers.

They had finally submitted their Seller's homework, the Listing Documents had been created and signed, with yours truly as the listing agent, so they were now our Clients.

The Co-List Agent headed out of town, and indicated since they were "unavailable due to personal commitments, they expected me to cover for them."


I had Co-List Agents for a reason.

Not so I personally could cover for them.

I emailed the Co-List Agent and advised them of several options:

1. They would need to find the time to talk with the Sellers.

2. I could re-assign the Listing to another qualified Agent who was available.

3. They could make their own arrangements with another qualified Agent to "cover for them".


When it became clear they were playing ostrich, for whatever reason, I selected "Door #2" and re-assigned the listing to another Co-List Agent.

Things proceeded - albeit slowly due to the Seller's "behavior."

Co-List Agent #1 returned to the office after the 1st of the year.

They were argumentative about how things had transpired.

Not being much interested in arguments, I sent them an email a few days later advising them that we would not be working together on future short sales, and committed in writing to the usual referral fee for this listing.

I received an email from them which apparently crossed with mine, where they indicated they thought it was best to not continue working short sales with our team, and that all they wanted for this listing was the "usual" referral fee.

Fair enough.

Case closed.

Or was it?

A full price offer came in.

The Sellers remained silent - unresponsive - crickets!

The Co-List Agent did their best to contact them - email, phone, smoke signal, semaphore, carrier pigeon - you get the idea.


The offer expired.

No additional offers were forthcoming prior to the scheduled list price adjustment authorized by the Sellers in the Listing Agreement.

The adjustment was made.

The Sellers were advised.

All of a sudden - they sprang to life!

"How can dost thou (seriously) do x,y,z?"

"Please refer to Page x Para y of the Listing Agreement."


Fast forward about a week and the Co-List Agent and I were reviewing the status of the 22 or thereabouts Short Sales we had in progress.

Strange - one missing in the MLS!

No - there it is!

It now has the recalcitrant Co-List Agent #1 assigned to it!?!?!

Call the Designated Broker, who had the MLS access to do this.

"Who, what, where, why and how," asks the Co-List Agent #2.

"Oh, it's your fault - the Sellers came into the office and complained that you never communicated with them, so I reassigned the listing to Co-List Agent #1 since he brought it in as a Listing," said the DB.


"And why didn't you ask for my side of the story first?" says Co-List Agent #2.

"It's irrelevant and water under the bridge.  I spoke with Co-List Agent #1 a couple of days ago about this - they should have told you," said the DB.

Co-List Agent #2 attempts to contact Co-List Agent #1 by phone, email and text.

You guessed it...Crickets!

Finally, later that day, Co-List Agent #2 receives a text from Co-List Agent #1 "It's the first I have heard about this."


Without boring you with all the gory details of how the following results unfolded:

We moved the team back to our previous brokerage, much to the dismay of Co-List Agent #1 and the Designated Broker, taking all our listings with us because that is what our agreement with the brokerage provided for.

The amount of potential revenue lost due to the re-assignment of the listing in question, I "set off" against other sums due to the brokerage - they still "owe" us for the difference.

The Designated Broker left that brokerage shortly after that event, after I had various "pointed" discussions with the owners.

So what is the Lesson Learned?  Several.

Co-List Agent #1 had been friends with both Co-List Agent#2 and with me - or so we thought.  Kiss those "friendships" goodbye.

Designated Broker got to "kiss their job goodbye" - although their behavior with regards to this situation was but one of a myriad of reasons the owners were anxious to part ways with them, but it was the "straw that broke the camel's back."

Owners got to "kiss their revenue goodbye" due to the move of the listings when we left, and the "set off" I made against the amount that would have resulted from the Short Sale.

The biggest lesson learned?? Make that "Confirmed."

Always get it in writing!

Without the carefully worded ICA that covered such eventualities, the dollar consequence to us could have been HUGE!

So, I say again:

Always get it in writing!

For more from Tony and Suzanne, visit their website.

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Topics: Agent Insights

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