Can I Buy A Home and Pay the Realtor’s Commission at a Later Time?

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“How long must I wait to buy a home (that I first saw with a real estate agent) without having to pay a commission? I saw a home listed for sale, contacted the selling agent, took a tour of the home and made an offer to buy. The offer was rejected, the house is still for sale-with another real estate firm, but I have made no further inquiries into buying the house. Through a third party, I have learned the seller would take four hundred thousand for the home, I’m willing to pay the four hundred thousand-but can’t pay the extra 28 thousand on top of the 400 thousand to cover real estate fees. How can I buy this house legally without paying the commission? Do I need to wait six months from the time I made the first offer? Could I rent with option to buy after six months? I don’t want to sound cheap or rip off the selling agent-I just don’t have the extra money-I will already be stretching my budget to the limit and will still have to make numerous repairs to the home.”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

First, the bad news: If you don’t want to feel like you’re ripping anyone off, you’re kind of stuck. A real estate agent’s primary job is to get buyers and sellers together. The agent did that with you and this seller, so anything you do at this point is, in essence, weaseling out of the commission.

Or, more specifically, the seller is weaseling, because you don’t have a contract with the seller’s agent. Which brings up some other problems, but I’ll get to that in a minute. First, some background:

In most cases, agents who work with buyers don’t have a written contract; they rely on an agreement with the sellers’ agent for their commission. Assuming you didn’t have a commission agreement with your agent, that leaves only the seller’s agent.

The seller and his agents will have what is known as a listing agreement. Listing agreements specify when and under what circumstances a commission is owed to the agent, so the answer to your question (when could you buy the house without owing a commission) will be found in those contracts. You’ll have to look at the current listing agreement and the previous one, since you first saw the house when the previous agent was involved. It’s even possible, depending on the terms, that both agents would be owed a commission if you bought the house now.

Some listing agreements allow the seller to sell the property without owing a commission, if the buyer was found by the owner and not the agent. Most require a commission for any sale, regardless of who finds the buyer. Again, you’ll have to look at the agreements.

Listing agreements have a specific time period that they are effective, though many also specify that a commission is owed if a person who first saw the property during the listing period buys the property during a period of time after the listing period–to prevent the exact sort of thing your buyer is trying to do: waiting out the listing period to avoid paying a commission.

Another thing you need to consider is that most listing agreements specify that if a buyer is presented whose offer meets the terms in the listing agreement, the seller owes a commission WHETHER OR NOT THE OFFER IS ACCEPTED. So if, while you’re waiting, a buyer comes along, the seller will have to accept that offer or pay the commission out of his own pocket; he can’t just reject the offer and wait for you.



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Author: House Attorney

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