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disgruntled buyer suing buyer's agent

marvelousmarvin
16 years ago

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/22/business/22agent.html?pagewanted=1&hp

Very interesting case, and the first but not the last case like this. The buyer's argument is that their agent violated his ficiucary responsiblity by not representing their interests when the agent failed to warn the buyers that similar houses in the same 5 year old development were selling for about a hundred grand less than what they were going to pay. And, that the agent withheld this crucial information because he wanted to secure his commission and was afraid the buyers would back out if they understood the pricing dynamics in this neighborhood.

Comments (117)

  • marvelousmarvin
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    If I were the NAR, I'd be very unhappy about this case. If the agent loses, then its going to set a precedent and only encourage more lawsuits. And, from the info we've been given so far, the NAR would have wanted a weaker case to try this argument. Even if the agent wins, its still a black eye for the NAR and its agents.

    Of course, the NAR should have stepped in a long time about the conflict of interest for a person to be a agent/mortgage broker.

  • dianemargaret
    16 years ago

    Interesting website Logic. So does this mean that if the Ummels did not order and read all of the helpful reports put together by industry insiders it could be held against them? Is that what the expert witness meant when he was quoted as saying, "They simply didnÂt do what is expected of a knowledgeable, sophisticated buyer" ? Was what he said prefaced by an explanation of all the information available on Little's website? Has anyone downloaded the reports?

    mfbenson wrote:

    But in the case of a listing agent, they can't really help it if someone buys a neighboring property above asking while the property the agent is trying to sell goes for under asking.

    Yes, why aren't the sellers of the two properties that sold for less sueing their agents for underpricing their houses? Wouldn't thy have a case using the same sort of reasoning? Of course I still have not found a definitive answer to how much those two other houses were originally listed for, or if they were listed. Some houses do sell by word of mouth. In the discusion on one of the linked sites a poster suggested that real estate agents know the particulars of every deal, not just their own, before it closes and becomes public record. Is this true? I don't see how it can be.

    I agree with you Logic. People can sue for anything at any time. Even if they don'thave an airtight case. :)

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  • logic
    16 years ago

    The outcome of the case will be interesting...to say the least.

  • judeNY_gw
    16 years ago

    It could be argued that the BA should have done something different and/or the buyers should have done something different. The fact remains that they are suing for an 8% difference which could result from the phase of the moon and is completely ridiculous to sue for. That tells me something about the buyer. I hope the agent countersues. And no, I am not an agent.

  • logic
    16 years ago

    judeny: "The fact remains that they are suing for an 8% difference which could result from the phase of the moon and is completely ridiculous to sue for. That tells me something about the buyer"

    It tells me something as well...that for the buyer it appears to be about the principal..and not the money....which is apparently becoming a foreign concept for most.

  • c9pilot
    16 years ago

    Did everybody see this on the TODAY show this morning?

    The Ummels were in the studio with an "expert" (I think she was from MSNBC)

    I thought the expert would back them up since she was sitting two feet away from them on the same sofa, but I was shocked (and happily surprised) when she said that she didn't think their suit had any merit!

    It was actually quite animated because the expert IMHO came out ahead on this one. At least, anybody who knows anything about RE would see that the Ummels were really grasping at straws. Mr. said nothing except that he was backing up his wife. Mrs. runs that house.

    Unfortunately, the piece was too short and didn't give any insight other than Mrs. Ummel stating that she thought this was wrong and she hoped this lawsuit would change how the real estate industry operated.

  • terezosa / terriks
    16 years ago

    They didn't mention the price the Ummels paid on the Today show segment. I think that it is very important to know that these were million dollar plus homes, and that the difference in the prices was less than 10%. People watching the show may assume that the prices were much lower, in which case a $100k difference would be more substantial.

    I know a RE agent who was sued several years after he sold a home because the buyers claimed that it was a "bad house". Fortunately he had documented everything during the transaction, including the fact that the buyers declined to have a professional whole house inspection, relying instead on a buddy in the trades to look it over for them. He had them sign a statement that he recommended a whole house inspection by a licensed inspector and that they declined. Despite that it still cost the broker almost $20k to defend the case.

  • C Marlin
    16 years ago

    It tells me something as well...that for the buyer it appears to be about the principal..and not the money....which is apparently becoming a foreign concept for most.
    Why oh why the personal attack, just because some disagree with your perspective of this case.
    You now believe the suit is about the principle not money, so posters that disagree are unprincipled people?
    Can't we just stick to the subject...

  • spanky67
    16 years ago

    Saw the Today show segment...boy if that guy wasn't screeming "I don't want anything to do with this" by his "I support my wife..." comment...it was high comedy. This woman must be a real peach at home.

    Here's my question...wouldn't you be even a little curious about 2 "identical" houses in very close proximity("up the street") to the one you were considering buying, that were for sale??? I'm not even sure that reaches the level of due diligence...more like common sense.

    BTW...don't houses on cul-de-sacs sell for more than houses not on them? That may explain why otherwise "identical" houses would sell for different prices.

  • talley_sue_nyc
    16 years ago

    cmarlin, you took that as a PERSONAL attack? Against you?

    "Principal" is AN ideal. NOT automatically "the guaranteed automatic only RIGHT ideal"

  • rocketdog
    16 years ago

    Without knowing all the true facts of the case, I do have a few thoughts. Many are mentioning due diligence of the buyers, etc. No person is expected to be an expert on everything, which is why we hire professionals for all sorts of things. I know nothing about plumbing so if I have an issue, I hire a plumber. I expect him/her to know what they are doing and fix my problem correctly. Should I be expected to brush up on plumbing so I can tell if he/she did it right? No, I don't think so.

    A person seeks a buyer's agent because they expect that person to be knowledgeable in their field. I'm not saying it isn't wise to do one's homework but should a buyer be expected to have a certain level of knowledge when buying a home or should they be able to rely on the "expert"?

    Of course, that doesn't mean the lady should sue over it. I personally would kick myself and leave it at that. However, if there are facts backing up some indiscretion regarding the appraisal, then perhaps there is a valid case.

  • c9pilot
    16 years ago

    Actually, they did mention the purchase price in the video clip right before the in-studio interview.
    We get to see what the infamous house looks like!

    Now, if you were looking at houses, and you saw a "for sale" 3 houses down from the house you were thinking about putting an offer on, wouldn't you ask your agent, "What's up with that house?". When my buyer's agent drove me around my new neighborhood, she told us exactly why she wasn't showing us certain houses as we passed by "for sale" signs. If she didn't, then I asked, and she would tell me. I even asked her about the FSBOs, since she was quite familiar with the neighborhood.

    Anyway, I think the "expert" was trying to explain that "identical" houses are not "identical" but she got cut off due to time constraints.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Today Show video

  • theroselvr
    16 years ago

    I know a RE agent who was sued several years after he sold a home because the buyers claimed that it was a "bad house". Fortunately he had documented everything during the transaction, including the fact that the buyers declined to have a professional whole house inspection, relying instead on a buddy in the trades to look it over for them. He had them sign a statement that he recommended a whole house inspection by a licensed inspector and that they declined. Despite that it still cost the broker almost $20k to defend the case.

    I was reading (wish I saved the link) that so far they have spent more then $75,000.00 on attorney fees.

    Now, if you were looking at houses, and you saw a "for sale" 3 houses down from the house you were thinking about putting an offer on, wouldn't you ask your agent, "What's up with that house?". When my buyer's agent drove me around my new neighborhood, she told us exactly why she wasn't showing us certain houses as we passed by "for sale" signs. If she didn't, then I asked, and she would tell me. I even asked her about the FSBOs, since she was quite familiar with the neighborhood.

    Yes, my agent & I did just that. We stopped in front of these houses while she called the listing agent. Most did not come up in my search due to price and one we couldn't find out if it was still listed (Foxtons). I tried to find it on their site and came up empty.

    Of course, that doesn't mean the lady should sue over it. I personally would kick myself and leave it at that. However, if there are facts backing up some indiscretion regarding the appraisal, then perhaps there is a valid case.

    I agree. A lot of what I read makes no sense, hopefully they won't settle with a gag order.

    What speaks volumes to me is that the agent that sent the flier of the 1st sold house seems to be on the agents side from her comments. She knows what the deal is with these houses. My guess is it was already in escrow or had an active contract on it.

  • logic
    16 years ago

    A few more observations. Susan Filan is a legal analyst, not a RE expert. That said...she made a complete and utter fool of herself with the following statement: "The bank wouldnÂt have given them the mortgage in the amount they got if the appraisal didnÂt back the house.".

    ROFLOL!!! Hardly. Appraisal inflation is done all of the time...even before the housing insanity...and is well documented. In addition, the appraiser in this case has already settled the lawsuit brought against him by the Ummels. IMO, consequently Ms. Filan has a major amount of egg on her faceÂ...and her credibility on the issue is therefore questionable to say the least.And noteÂÂMs. Filan carefully avoided the fact that Mr. Little hired the appraiserÂ...is also a mortgage broker...and withheld the appraisal form the Ummels....all of which weakens her postion considerably.

    With all of their $$$$$$$$, one would think NBC could have found a more informed expert to comment. And, BTW, I love The Today Show..I watch it every morning during breakfast..however, on occasion, their "experts" say some VERY stupid things. I caught Dr. Nancy Snyderman in a doozy a while back...

    Be that as it may, second, given the HUGE sums of $$$$$$$$ that NAR spends on its ads, asserting that one should utilize a Realtor because of their expertise, it is disingenuous for anyone in the RE profession to state that the onus if on the buyer (as stated by Mike LittleÂs witness) to know the market.
    NAR canÂt have it both ways.

    ThirdÂthere appears to be an assumption that the homes had "For Sale" signs in front. Do we know this for certain? When we sold our last home during the last RE boom, by the time the REA got around to bringing a sign, we had already accepted an offerÂand the sign never went upÂanother friend was notified of a house that just went on the marketÂnever even made it to the MLSÂhe made an offerÂand bought itÂin a boom market, this sort of thing happens all of the time. Why assume that is not the case here?

    And..even if so, I still don't see why the buyer is expected to pick up the slack of the BA....whom they hired to do the job for them.

    That said, based on what it seems IS known, IMO, if it walks like a duckÂ..quacks like a duckÂ..chances are it is indeed a duck.

  • dianemargaret
    16 years ago

    ThirdÂthere appears to be an assumption that the homes had "For Sale" signs in front. Do we know this for certain? When we sold our last home during the last RE boom, by the time the REA got around to bringing a sign, we had already accepted an offerÂand the sign never went upÂanother friend was notified of a house that just went on the marketÂnever even made it to the MLSÂhe made an offerÂand bought itÂin a boom market, this sort of thing happens all of the time. Why assume that is not the case here?

    Well that's what I've been saying, logic, though we have come to different conclusions. If those other homes never made it to the MLS and hadn't closed before the Ummels made their offer Mr. Little would also not have the information about what they closed for.

    As for the appraiser settling as Roselover pointed out it is possible to win a case and still be out large attorney fees. Some people can't afford the "principle" of defending themselves and decide instead to cut their losses.

    Again, I'm not saying this is what happened. I mention only possibilities

  • logic
    16 years ago

    dianemargaret: "If those other homes never made it to the MLS and hadn't closed before the Ummels made their offer Mr. Little would also not have the information about what they closed for."

    If one watches the video...one of the homes in question closed six months earlier; if so, that info would have been available to the BA as sales data.

    It sounds as if two others were for sale at the same time....I only brought up the example of not making it on to the MLS to document that REA's know what is for sale before the public knows...as there is often a lag time between when a home is listed for sale...and when it is posted on the public MLS...

    Case in point. There is an agent in our area that sends out a lot of informative info if you are on his email list...one of the things he sends is a link to the REA's listing of the homes for sale...and I have noticed that homes on that listing don't show up on the public MLS for a week..or 2 or 3. This list also shows DOM, addresses, etc that is also not avialable on the public MLS.

    That said, there is a better chance that the BA had access to this info, when the buyer did not...

    This...and the lack of actual "For Sale" signs, would mean that the buyer had no way of obtinaing the info that so many seem to think that they would have known had they priactice"due diligence"...which is one of the major benfits of working with a REA..BA or not..is that they have the access to info that John Q Public does not...

  • marvelousmarvin
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    "ROFLOL!!! Hardly. Appraisal inflation is done all of the time...even before the housing insanity...and is well documented. In addition, the appraiser in this case has already settled the lawsuit brought against him by the Ummels."

    And, according to the real estate blogs that have commented on this case, some of the real estate agents know about the appraiser and he was a pretty sleazy guy. Whenever, you needed to hit a certain price on a appraisal, you'd turn to this guy and all it cost you was a bottle of wine.

  • judeNY_gw
    16 years ago

    Logic, there is no principle involved in an 8% price difference. The buyer is demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of the process if she thinks that is something to sue about. It also suggests a psychological problem. And isn't she getting lots of attention. Makes me wonder how many other lawsuits she's filed. Makes me think she needs something real to do with her life.

  • logic
    16 years ago

    judeny: "Logic, there is no principle involved in an 8% price difference."

    For you perhaps...that is your opinion, to which you are entitled. That established, isn't the buyer entitled to hers?

    judeny: "The buyer is demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of the process if she thinks that is something to sue about."

    WellÂ..she IS suingÂ..and has already settled with two of three parties...and has spent 75K already in legal costs...so apparently it IS something to sue about...and has obviously gone past the point where she merely "thinks" it is...

    judeny: "It also suggests a psychological problem."

    To stand on principal? Since when does standing on principal suggest that one has a psychological problem? In other words, if there isnÂt a good sum of money to be had, one has a psychological problem if they simply wish to hold someone accountable for their actions (or inactions) in the only way that our system allows?

    There has been much conjecture here and on other forums regarding this issueÂhowever, it is obvious that all of the facts have yet to be made publicÂand, making evaluations about Mrs. UmmelÂs mental health based upon a news story (and one poorly written at that) is IMO just a tad over the topÂto say the least.

  • kellyeng
    16 years ago

    I applaud the Ummel's for their lawsuit. I don't know if it has merit or not but luckily they have the funds available to question the system in a very outspoken way.

    I wonder if the NRA is funding any of the BA's legal fees?

  • sweeby
    16 years ago

    I also tend to agree with the Ummels, on the grounds that:

    1) A buyers' agent should know the local real estate market well enough to tell if a particular house is significantly overpriced. And if he doesn't know off-hand, he should do the research needed to find out when consulting about making an offer. Especially since this was a tract house and there were recent sales comps. (To those saying 8% isn't 'significant': That certainly isn't the tone of comments on this forum when people talk about making/getting an offer for 92% of the listing price.)

    2) I believe that if a buyer's agent thinks a house is significantly overpriced, he has an ethical obligation to share his opinion with the potential buyers. However, in this case, the agent appears to have gone out of his way to actually conceal this information from his clients -- by hiring the 'pusher' appraiser and not providing a copy of the appraisal, and by not mentioning the comps.

    There may be particulars in this case - there always are -
    but I think these legal issues have been ignored far too long, and that it's high time a court interpreted the law for us.

  • logic
    16 years ago

    Sweeby: "There may be particulars in this case - there always are -
    but I think these legal issues have been ignored far too long, and that it's high time a court interpreted the law for us."

    Touché, Sweeby, touché!

    This case has garnered a LOT of attention, and even if in the end the Ummels lose the battle, the cost of defense on the part of the BA will not be chump changeÂand will ring significantly in the ears of the profession, funded by NARÂÂor not.

    IMO...this could very well result in many REA's...ESPECIALLY BA's thinking twiceÂ..and three timesÂwhen tempted to do the same......and IMO, more will choose to provide as much info as possibleÂÂas opposed to withholding as much as possible.

    I would also like to see REAÂs and BAÂs precluded from acting as mortgage brokers and precluded from arranging for appraisalsÂÂor, at least they should be legally required to provide a copy of the appraisal to the buyer as soon as it is made available. I would also like to see them meaningfully precluded from referring HIÂsÂbut that is a whole other discussion.

    As Mrs. Ummel stated in her NBC interview, she wants to change the system...if the in the end her actions do cause the profession to rethink its "approach" to put it kindly, Mrs. Ummel will have had some success in achieving her goalÂas even if she loses the battle, she will have to some degree won the war.

  • judeNY_gw
    16 years ago

    logic, your reaction is a bit over the top. Really. I guess you would sue over an 8% difference that could be explained by many things. That is not principle, it's bad judgement. And yes, that is my opinion.

  • berniek
    16 years ago

    " Mrs. Ummel will have had some success in achieving her goalÂas even if she loses the battle, she will have to some degree won the war."

    Probably about as much success in achieving her goal, as the reaction on this board.

  • logic
    16 years ago

    judeny: "I guess you would sue over an 8% difference that could be explained by many things. That is not principle, it's bad judgement. And yes, that is my opinion."

    "That could be explained my many other things" being the operative phrase.

    "Could be explained"...not "Has been explained".

    AndÂ...until such is known equivocally, any personal assumptions regarding the Ummels...be it an assumption of a psychological problem, and/or bad judgmentÂÂis just that...and assumption....as well as nothing more than an ad hominem attack.

    That said, no point taken.

  • berniek
    16 years ago

    I found out that California does NOT require a written Buyer Agency Contract (although they have one), just a disclosure form to represent a buyer. The lady might win this case yet.

  • sylviatexas1
    16 years ago

    Call me cynical, but these buyers looked for *years*, cancelled 2 contracts, went through at least 1 Realtor, & finally bought a home *that belongs to a real estate agent*, & now they're claiming that they didn't know what they were doing & everyody victimized them?

    so now they're suing everybody, & several of the defendents have settled.

    sounds like it worked out just like they wanted it to.

  • logic
    16 years ago

    sylviatexas: "... now they're claiming that they didn't know what they were doing & everyody victimized them?"

    Hardly. Read the article again, which, although poorly written does seem to cover points that you appear to have missed.

    They are claiming that they chose to work with a "professional" BA in that he had an obligation to disclose any and all info to themÂÂ.such as like homes on the same block on the market at the same time listed for considerably lessÂÂ.such as like homes that sold recently for considerably less...such as providing them with a copy of the appraisal when asked, etc.

    In choosing to work with a BA, they made a specific choice not to handle their purchase DIY...as they apparently believed that a BA could do the job much better than they could...due to the BA's 26 years of experience in the local RE market.

    After all, they could have just as easily chosen the DIY route, but apparently they believed that their interests would be better protected working with a BA....who BTW, had 26 years more experience than they did...which I'm not clear on how you compare the BA's experience with the buyers limited experience as house hunters. Be that as it may, then surely if you believe that the buyers should have known better after their very limited experience, then you must also believe that the BA should have know far, far better with 26 years of experience.

    However, your point seems to be to fault the buyer in this respectÂ.belying your own argument.

    That said, their claim, therefore simply put, is that this did not turn out to be the case

    In addition, there is zero evidence from what we know so far that the buyers had access to ALL of the info that was available to a BA...therefore, any and all rushes to judgment are premature at best.

  • sylviatexas1
    16 years ago

    nope, I haven't rushed to judgment...
    I don't think any of us have all the info to make a judgment.

    but I think that the fact that things worked out the way they did is worth thinking about.

    How many buyers look for years?

    How many of them end up buying a home that belongs to a real estate practitioner?

    How many of them who have reached retirement age,having been smart enough to accumulate the wherewithal to buy a $1 million house, would accidentally choose a buyer's agent who is also their loan officer, would not insist on a copy of the appraisal before closing, would not look at comparable data themselves?

    It just seems...odd.

  • logic
    16 years ago

    sylcviatexas: "It just seems...odd."

    Or naieve.

    Or trusting that someone with 26 years experience would know more than they knew about the market.

    Or believing that someone would actually do their job without trying to screw them.

    However, these days, I guess that IS odd...to all too many.

    Moral of the story...DIY.

  • C Marlin
    16 years ago

    therefore, any and all rushes to judgment are premature at best.

    logic, it may help you to take your own advice.

  • berniek
    16 years ago

    "Moral of the story...DIY."

    You are right, finding out that the other house sold for less, they would not be able to go after the agent and have to do their due diligence like they should have in the first place.

  • sweeby
    16 years ago

    You're a Realtor Berniek --

    Do you think the buyer's agent should have known that/if the house was overpriced? (Remember, it's a fairly standard tract house.)

    And if he knew or suspected, should he have told his clients that he thought it was overpriced?

  • talley_sue_nyc
    16 years ago

    whether he thought it was overpriced or not:

    What Bernie would have done (and he has said so, on this thread; his other posts have led me to believe this IS what he would do) is:

    EDUCATE HIS BUYERS so that they understand WHY they are offering what they're offering. So that they could say for themselves, "hmmm, a house the same size, in spiffy shape, already closed for $100k less; maybe we can start by bidding lower."

    THAT is what a GOOD buyer's agent does. And I have this suspicion that THIS buyer's agent was in "salesman" mode, and NOT in "assist my buyers" mode.

  • logic
    16 years ago

    therefore, any and all rushes to judgment are premature at best.

    cmarlin20: logic, it may help you to take your own advice

    In what respect?

  • berniek
    16 years ago

    "You're a Realtor Berniek --
    Do you think the buyer's agent should have known that/if the house was overpriced? (Remember, it's a fairly standard tract house.)

    And if he knew or suspected, should he have told his clients that he thought it was overpriced?"

    Yes & Yes.
    I also would have advised them to check/walk the neighborhood at different times of the day for noise, neighbors and other issues that might concern a buyer. I'm sure my buyer would have seen any other homes for sale and asked me about them if they had not been shown before.

  • logic
    16 years ago

    berniek: "I'm sure my buyer would have seen any other homes for sale and asked me about them if they had not been shown before."

    What if there were no "For Sale" signs? Since we don't know if there were...what if there weren't?

  • berniek
    16 years ago

    "What if there were no "For Sale" signs? Since we don't know if there were...what if there weren't?"

    I'm sure there was a sign, one of an agents major part in marketing a property. But for sure it was in the MLS.

    See an appraisers comment below. (interesting, the pool property in question had range pricing, which is quite popular in Calif.)

    A Certified General Appraiser said this:
    FYI,

    I know this area reasonably well as I was doing a lot of field reviews there during this time frame.

    The Ummel's property is a subdivision home. I looked this property up last week. There was an apparent model match located on the same street that sold for $175k less 3 months prior, and another model match that was in escrow and eventually closed on the same day as the Ummels' sale for $105k less; and that property had a nice pool/spa combo that the Ummel's property lacked. FYI, that property had been listed with a range listing that topped out only $5k more than the sale price. It was listed prior to the contract date reported for the Ummel's home. It's all in the MLS.

    There were other sales data in that subdivision and the surrounding areas that appear to me to reflect the trends demonstrated by these other two properties. We're definitely not talking about an agent accidentally overlooking 1 listing out of 50 or anything like that. The Ummels would have had to drive past the active listing 3 doors down to get to this property when they were looking at it.

    If I had reviewed an appraisal on this property I definitely would expect an appraiser to address both sales in the report, and they'd better have a really good reason for significantly exceeding the list price on the model match with the pool.

    The facts of the case and who was supposed to do what will come out at trial. Or maybe not. I suppose it depends if there will be a settlement.

  • housenewbie
    16 years ago

    Let's not forget, many older people do tend to trust others--especially those w/ 'professional' jobs, like doctors, RE agents, etc--more than us younger folks do. Even people who have a decent amount of money.

    Ever notice how ads for insurance and whatnot that use celebrities to target older people always have "compensated endorser" prominently displayed on the screen? That's because there are a significant number of older folks who would think, "why, that Alex Trebec, he's such a nice man, he wouldn't lend his name to a product that wasn't good." Whereas I always look at an ad, no matter who's on the screen, and say "bullsh!t." They didn't used to put that disclaimer on there, but enuf seniors were duped into scams advertised on TV that the law was changed.

    When someone's in the position of making money off me, I trust them as far as I can throw them. But then, I come from a cynical generation.

    My tables,Âmeet it is I set it down,
    That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain.

  • logic
    16 years ago

    Berniek, when we sold out first house through Century 21, we never had a "For Sale" sign...we had an offer in two weeks which we accepted before they could install one...which was during the last RE boomÂÂwhich was less frenzied than this one......in NY/NJ anyway.

    A neighbor across the way at that time had no sign either...and over the last few years there have been at minimum 3 homes sold in our immediate area that I didn't even know were on the marketÂÂno signs.

    As a matter of fact, I look at one that is on the marketÂ...but no signÂ..out my back window every day. NowÂthat one is on the MLSÂÂbut oddly enough, not always. In addition, the one next to it never had a signÂÂwas never on the MLS..I just happened to know it was on the market because I know a local RE. It was sold a few weeks ago.

    I ask because although I agree a sign should prompt a question, we still donÂt know if there was one with the Ummel caseÂ..and againÂÂ.if so, that would be only one...and be of no help regarding the previously sold home.

    However,if one is going to have to comb the MLS on their own on a daily basis, they have zero need for an agentÂunless there is an agreement up front that the agent will not look for other like homesÂ...past or presentÂ.and that the buyers are responsible for doing soÂ

    That said thanks for posting the above appraiser assessment. It does appear to lend credibility to the Ummels storyÂÂand less to that of Mr. Little.

    Time will tell.

  • berniek
    16 years ago

    Where I am, signs are up usually within 24 hours, unless it's one of those C-21 yard arms (where I started in RE), which is out of the agents hands, because a company under contract, and not the listing agent install them. Each MLS has their own rules and timeframes about signs and listings.

    My buyers or anyone for that matter, has access to the MLS on my website, I have never thought that one of my buyers would not use me because of it. To me, access to the MLS has nothing to do about NOT using a REALTOR, like owning a lawbook and not using an attorney, or owning a auto repair manual and not using a mechanic.
    There will always be people who rather do certain tasks themselves, and others who will ask for help.

  • dianemargaret
    16 years ago

    Yes, thanks Berniek. finally some cold hard facts. :)

  • theroselvr
    16 years ago

    I found an older article that sheds more light from Feb. 12, 2007. It lists who was originally named in the suit and says that the Ummels needed a $300,000 mortgage.

    It also states On May 29, they made an offer on a four-bedroom, 3,697-square-foot tract home in the Serenada neighborhood in Carlsbad. The seller, Vicki Urzetta, was herself a real estate agent and had advertised a selling price of $1.175 million for the home. The Ummels made an offer at that price, and Urzetta countered with a $1.2 million price. They agreed to pay that, despite concerns that they hadn't yet seen an independent appraisal on the property.....

    The Ummels are in the process of settling suits with both Contento and Horizon Pacific Financial Inc., the mortgage brokerage Little was affiliated with when he made their loan. The hearing for that settlement, which seeks $20,000 from those two co-defendants, is scheduled for Feb. 23.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Couple, Feeling They've Been Wronged, Picket Re/Max

  • c9pilot
    16 years ago

    Wait a minute...they paid MORE than the asking price for the home? I didn't know that was still happening anywhere.

    I know everybody keeps saying this is a standard tract home, but there are still tens of thousands of dollars of upgrades and view and location that can make any standard builder-grade tract home vastly different value than the same floor plan customized one.
    Not relevant in this case, but I did live in a tract neighborhood where literally one side of the cul-de-sac was zoned to the better schools than the other side of cul-de-sac - they drew the line right down the middle of the street. And you know how schools can affect the value of a property.

    But, the buyers should have known (or been told) and made a conscious decision to spend more on house if it had the more valuable features they wanted.

  • ellysas
    16 years ago

    that's it. i'm suing my agent. the house down the road from us is selling for 429,000 and we just bought ours for 497000, whoops, we had stainless steel appliances, pool table (inlc in price), huge mostly finished basement, gorgeous views...
    and their house is dated, needs 40k of work, and curb appeal wise it's not nearly so pretty...there are so many variables that you could get identical houses where someone put in gold taps and sub-zero built in appliances...comps don't see that difference...the house up from us has a totally finished basement and sold for 7300,000 but has the exact same amount of square footage...I think i might loose my case!!! Why don't they check the other houses in the area to see who bought for more than they did?

  • ellysas
    16 years ago

    oops i meant 730,000 crikey if it was 7.3mil i think they might sue the whole block.

  • talley_sue_nyc
    16 years ago

    we have stainless steel appliances

    this always cracks me up as a justification for a higher price. Sure, stainless-steel appliances *cost* more, but they're not necessarily in and of themselves more valuable, unless their *features* are high-end. You can get a "stainless appliance" package for $2,000 or less. (In fact, sometimes I think if we go back on the market, I should buy one of these packages, just to increase the odds of getting a buyer, even though our white stove has many more features than the stainless ranges in those packages.) Even if you spent $4,000 on appliances, why would that bump your price up by anything but a fraction of that?

    But the point is this (and I have tried to make it several times, but never so succinctly than c9pilot):

    But, the buyers should have known (or been told) and made a conscious decision to spend more on house if it had the more valuable features they wanted.

    THERE is where their agent messed up, and he has no one to blame but himself. Even if he deserves to win the lawsuit, he ALSO deserves to have to deal w/ the angst, but basically being a stupid person.

    As BernieK has said several times: He would make sure his buyers knew WHY they were paying MORE THAN THE ASKING price.

  • ellysas
    16 years ago

    ok diffent spin...
    obviously i'm just a regular chippie who loves this forum, however----
    In the mls, (the ones the agent see, not the public) does it say what a house includes when it sells? Does it include higher end appliances, does it include upgrades, some people include everything in their house, others-squat! Maybe Mr. and Mrs Ummel will set precedent by allowing both the agent and the public to know why a house sold for what it did. (oh and the ss appl. we bought were worth 10K and the ones we sold were 5K...we just were tailoring ourselves to people who were just as trendy as us...it's just taste...I personally like when all the appl. are hidden but that's even more money! Lol.

  • lavern
    16 years ago

    If someone just happened to leave this old flier on their doorstep, they probably had reason to think the couple had been duped.

  • hobokenkitchen
    16 years ago

    There are still many details that we do not know.
    But I will say this; If the agent was also the mortgage person and they refused to give the buyers an appraisal that showed the two other homes on it (meaning that they must have already closed) then the agent is at fault in this case and I think the Ummels could win.
    I did think that at least one of the cheaper homes closed the same time as the Ummels home. How then would it have shown on an appraisal, as appraisers that I know of only use closed comps, not active ones?

    I stand by my statements on the rest of the case - if you start requiring an agent to show all like properties, agents and their buyers will be spending months and months looking at everything and it will be a huge waste of everyone's time.

    Some clients make a decision after going out once and seeing 6 units, some need 5 or 6 trips. Others watch the market for months viewing open houses and then look and buy. Having to take the quick decision makers around all 150 two, bed two bath condos in a square mile is just a recipe for disaster.

    The agent in this case should lose his licence if the stuff about the appraisal is true, but I do think that there are many details we still don't know.