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Realtor goes AWOL
Old 04-20-2018, 12:05 PM   #1
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Realtor goes AWOL

Here's a scenario I'm in. Sign a 1 yr listing contract with a realtor to list some land. The terms are with a realty company, not the realtor. It is pretty standard. We set the listing a bit high, with the idea that we could adjust if necessary. It is a bit of a lazy listing, as it is inherited land and I just want it off my books. Nothing too valuable.

Time passes. Joe gets busy at w*rk and ER planning. It finally dawns on me about 8 months in, that we need to adjust this since the seasonal buyers are around, or I need to at least get an update on the situation. I call. No phone returned. Holidays come up. I forget. Call after holidays, still no return. W*rk too busy.

So, here I am nearly a 1 yr in and I finally decide read the contract knowing I need out after the year. The contract looks clean to terminate (in just a few weeks).

I do a google search and discover the realtor moved across the country. Nice. No notification from her or the realty company she was associated with.

This is all water over the dam right now as the contract is nearly up. Maybe it serves as a warning to others. I really don't have the answer to fix something like this for a "lazy listing" except you can't be too lazy. And if your realtor skips town, you better get with the realty company they are associated with and put the screws to them -- or have something added to the contract.

Now... I'm thinking of taking a land broker's low ball offer to simply get this off my plate and life. My advice to all: don't buy swamp land.
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Old 04-20-2018, 12:50 PM   #2
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I usually like to get stuff done. Patience is not my forte'. I would have probably listed it at or below market to move it and put it behind me. Especially if it were inherited and not something I planned to do anything with.
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Old 04-20-2018, 12:54 PM   #3
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Was the land appraised at the time you inherited it?

Several years ago I inherited some "swamp land". At that time the estate had it appraised, as a buildable lot at market price. As it turned out, the zoning and wetland laws actually prevented it from being built on. I sold it for less than 15% of the appraised value, BUT, I had capital loss that could be carried forward to offset Capital Gains, so I got another 25% in value (my marginal rate at the time).
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Old 04-20-2018, 12:58 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by COcheesehead View Post
I usually like to get stuff done. Patience is not my forte'. I would have probably listed it at or below market to move it and put it behind me. Especially if it were inherited and not something I planned to do anything with.
I lived and learned. This is what I will do again if listing.

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Was the land appraised at the time you inherited it?

Several years ago I inherited some "swamp land". At that time the estate had it appraised, as a buildable lot at market price. As it turned out, the zoning and wetland laws actually prevented it from being built on. I sold it for less than 15% of the appraised value, BUT, I had capital loss that could be carried forward to offset Capital Gains, so I got another 25% in value (my marginal rate at the time).
I had it appraised for mom and dad at the bubble time in 07. Not at inherit time. Since then, actual sales are at 25% of that rarefied price which only lasted a short time. Mom and Dad had it appraised much earlier, at more than current going rates.

It is buildable, but with restrictions.

The broker lowball offer is still tempting (about 25% of current sales). Since I'm still earning money this year, it might be a good year to take the capital loss. I'd probably take that against the original sale (early 80s) as documented, which is about what I estimate it would have been appraised at when inherited. It will still be a loss.
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Old 04-20-2018, 01:13 PM   #5
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1. Don't sign 1-year listing agreements.
2. Do find an agent who specializes in vacant land sales. If it is rural land, then you need someone who handles vacant land in rural areas.
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Old 04-20-2018, 01:28 PM   #6
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I'd want to wait until the listing agreement expired so that I wasn't paying this absentee realtor a commission for selling cheap to a land broker that they didn't even find. But maybe I'm petty. Or maybe it's worth it to just get it gone sooner.
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Old 04-20-2018, 01:32 PM   #7
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I'd want to wait until the listing agreement expired so that I wasn't paying this absentee realtor a commission for selling cheap to a land broker that they didn't even find. But maybe I'm petty. Or maybe it's worth it to just get it gone sooner.
Only a few days. I'll be clear of the contract.

And yes, I've learned some lessons, and others are sharing too.

Vacant rural residential land is a special case and a pain in the ...
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Old 04-21-2018, 12:24 AM   #8
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I wonder if any prospects called the realtor and couldn't reach her.
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Old 04-21-2018, 07:33 AM   #9
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You are correct about the listing being with the real estate company (usually known as broker), and not the listing Realtor.

Call the real estate office and ask to speak with the broker-owner, (or managing broker if it is a multi-city firm). Find out who "inherited" your listing when the listing Realtor blew town. Talk to either the broker/manager or the "new" listing agent about current marketing options. (The broker/mgr may not be aware that you are not getting good service.) Do this before your listing expires-but do not promise to re-list.

Do a little research on that particular company. Do they specialize in raw land, or do they mainly sell houses? Then go to Realtor.com and look up land for sale in your area, and find a Realtor who lists lots of land (no pun intended).

It is always good to interview more than one listing Realtor (3?) when your contract is up and you want to relist. (Feel free to PM me if you need more advice.)
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Old 04-21-2018, 08:41 AM   #10
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I wonder if any prospects called the realtor and couldn't reach her.
I think that happened. I pull up zillow and she is still listed as agent and contact, with her new phone number. However, she hasn't done anything in her new location. I suspect she had some life event (illness, family illness, rehab, who knows?) and was unavailable all this time.

Man, I feel so stupid. I'm sharing so others can learn from me. I was just assuming this slow moving land was slow with no activity because, well, it is crappy land. Don't do this. Keep in touch with your realtor.

With the contract days away from expiring, I'm not sure I want to explore the reason further. Lesson learned.
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Old 04-21-2018, 08:46 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by brucethebroker View Post
You are correct about the listing being with the real estate company (usually known as broker), and not the listing Realtor.

Call the real estate office and ask to speak with the broker-owner, (or managing broker if it is a multi-city firm). Find out who "inherited" your listing when the listing Realtor blew town. Talk to either the broker/manager or the "new" listing agent about current marketing options. (The broker/mgr may not be aware that you are not getting good service.) Do this before your listing expires-but do not promise to re-list.

Do a little research on that particular company. Do they specialize in raw land, or do they mainly sell houses? Then go to Realtor.com and look up land for sale in your area, and find a Realtor who lists lots of land (no pun intended).

It is always good to interview more than one listing Realtor (3?) when your contract is up and you want to relist. (Feel free to PM me if you need more advice.)
Thanks Bruce. If I have the time, I may call. I won't be listing with these people again. Shouldn't they know if their agent blew town? Or is the only thing they do is collect their percentage? I see they updated their website to expunge mention of her.

Thanks for the good advice, Bruce. I should have asked here before.
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Old 04-21-2018, 09:05 AM   #12
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I think that happened. I pull up zillow and she is still listed as agent and contact, with her new phone number. However, she hasn't done anything in her new location. I suspect she had some life event (illness, family illness, rehab, who knows?) and was unavailable all this time.

Man, I feel so stupid. I'm sharing so others can learn from me. I was just assuming this slow moving land was slow with no activity because, well, it is crappy land. Don't do this. Keep in touch with your realtor.

With the contract days away from expiring, I'm not sure I want to explore the reason further. Lesson learned.
I think it's understandable and could see myself doing the same thing, so I appreciate you for sharing the incident. Despite being a DIY'er, certain things I hire professionals to do for me and expect them to "do their job" without constant monitoring. Did you contact the broker or any realtor board or anything to complain? NM, I see Bruce already suggested this.
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Old 04-21-2018, 10:49 AM   #13
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I think anyone who engages a broker has an obligation to manage the contract. No one cares about your money like you should!

My greatest leverage has resulted from managing RE brokers. But even stock brokers require managing on a daily basis.
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Old 04-21-2018, 02:56 PM   #14
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I think anyone who engages a broker has an obligation to manage the contract. No one cares about your money like you should!

My greatest leverage has resulted from managing RE brokers. But even stock brokers require managing on a daily basis.
+1. Learned the hard way.
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Old 04-21-2018, 03:11 PM   #15
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1. Don't sign 1-year listing agreements.
I signed a 6-month listing agreement for the first house I sold. Even though it sold in about half that time, I was very uncomfortable with being tied down that long and decided I wouldn't do that next time.

Next time, we signed for 120 days and told the agent that if it didn't sell by then, we needed to look at a different approach.
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Old 04-21-2018, 04:13 PM   #16
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I think anyone who engages a broker has an obligation to manage the contract. No one cares about your money like you should!

My greatest leverage has resulted from managing RE brokers. But even stock brokers require managing on a daily basis.
True, but at some unknowable-in-advance point it's no more work to do sell-by-owner, or manage one's own portfolio.
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