Q: We contracted with a well-known Realtor to sell our home. After the sales contract was signed, we asked the agent to remove the lawn sign, which we found embarrassing and distasteful. She refused. Additionally, she sent a mass mailing with our home address and interior photos, describing her great success in selling the home — where we are still living. What can we do to get her to stop?
A: Go back and read the listing agreement you signed with this agent. Does it contain language authorizing the activities of your agent? If it did, then your agent may have the legal right to do what she is doing.
Contact the broker of the real estate company where the agent works. Discuss your concerns and tell the broker that you are not happy and want these activities stopped immediately. You can also file a complaint with your local or state association of Realtors.
If the listing agreement does not give the agent the authority to keep the sign on your lawn or to use your house for her promotional purposes, I would advise her that you will seek a restraining order against her if she does not immediately cease her conduct.
Please don't just take down the sign. It belongs to her or her company, and I don't want you to be accused of doing anything wrong.
Call attorney: Seller has change of heart
Q: We signed a contract to buy a home, contingent upon selling our townhouse within 90 days. Because of this contingency, the closing date was listed as "to be determined." We sold our townhouse within 90 days and in trying to set up a closing date on our new home found out that the seller no longer wants to sell. She is afraid that she "might lose her job this year." She claims to have consulted an attorney and found out that our contract is not valid because it has no closing date. We have not seen proof that she really consulted an attorney. What's our course of action here?
A: Whether or not your seller consulted an attorney, you should do so immediately.
Did you or your real estate agent formally remove the 90-day contingency by advising the seller or her agent in writing before the 90 days elapsed? This will be a critical fact that your attorney will have to analyze.
When you sign a real estate contract, whether you are a buyer or seller, you must fully understand all of the terms and conditions of that legal document. I always recommend that you prepare a timeline, indicating all important dates, such as when the home inspection will take place, when the financing contingency expires, and when closing occurs.
The strongest position you can take is to file a specific performance lawsuit immediately against your seller. If the judge agrees with your legal position, a court order will be issued requiring the seller to sell her house to you.
E-mail Benny Kass at email@example.com.