We own a rural vacation home on 75 acres. There is a locked gate at the entrance and a half-kilometer lane leading up to the house. A local man looks after the place when we’re not there. Last summer we were stunned to arrive and find a real estate agent giving a tour to prospective buyers. The caretaker said the agent was his friend and the clients were interested in a place like ours, so he thought it would be okay to let them look around.
We said the property was not for sale and would not be for the foreseeable future. A week later, the buyers contacted us directly (not through their agent) with a cash offer. We declined and repeated that we had no intention of selling. The buyer has contacted us twice since then. It’s getting annoying.
We have two questions: (i) Is it accepted real estate practice for an agent to show an unlisted property without the owner’s knowledge? (ii) If at some point we do decide to sell, are we under any obligation to this agent?
By the way, we changed the lock on the gate and have hired a new caretaker. – NOT SELLING
DEAR NOT SELLING: Your vacation home sounds lovely — I can easily imagine driving down that half-kilometer lane. Having a caretaker on site must have provided a level of comfort, and I’m sure you felt betrayed by what happened after leaving him in a position of trust.
Property ownership is unique in that we tend to have very strong reactions when people are there without our knowledge. I can only imagine how you must have felt coming home to find people trespassing. Unless you told your caretaker that he could allow showings on the property, neither he nor the Realtor had the authority to bring prospective buyers. My suspicion is that the Realtor assumed he had permission to be on site.
There are few properties in the world that wouldn’t be for sale for the right price, and this is likely why the unsolicited offers have persisted. My wife and I have lived in our home for over 20 years. It’s nothing fancy and we have no intention of moving, but if someone knocked on our door and offered us twice what the house was worth, I might just start packing. The buyers’ thought process is probably similar. They are looking for an opportunity, but in this case don’t want to overpay.
Regardless, the answer to your question is cut and dry: a Realtor does not have the right to show a property without the owner’s permission. Based on what you’ve told me, you have no obligation whatsoever to this agent, even if you sell to these buyers in the future. Without a signed contract in place, you are free to sell when you want, and to whomever you want.
PRO TIP: Virtually every property is for sale at the right price. If you want to purchase a home from an owner who isn’t thinking of selling right now, you’re probably going to have to pay over market value. If an offer appears out of the blue and you’re willing to consider it, hire a skilled negotiator. Experienced agents do hundreds of deals each year and can help you make the most of the opportunity. #Advice #AskDavid #TheNegotiator
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