Tuesday, September 16, 2008

All's fair but that doesn't make it right

Once we knew we'd be moving to St. Petersburg, we started thinking about where we would live when we got there.
I found a readers' forum on a real estate site from the area and posted a question asking about the best places to live.
I got several replies, including one from a real estate agent named Mike.
We wrote back and forth and pretty soon, he was Our Realtor.
We'd give him a list of houses we found online and he would line up visits for us.
He might have seen us as business clients but we saw him as a friend -- our first friend in Florida.
He took us through dozens of houses.
A lot of them were nice; they were OK. But they just weren't THE house.
Then one day, the day after a marathon house-shopping spree with Mike, I drove around all day long all by myself. I drove street after street, neighborhood after neighborhood, trying to find a house.
Six hours later, I went back to the apartment my husband is temporarily staying in and called up the Tampa Bay Craig's List.
(Craig's List is a free online classified service, available for most parts of the country -- including the Cleveland area.)
I found a house there that seemed perfect. A street was listed but no house number. I sent the home owner, who was selling it without a real estate agent, an e-mail.
She wrote back with the house number and we drove past it.
It WAS perfect. It was in a great location. It was the right price. And, most importantly, it was exactly the kind of house we were looking for.
We went and looked at it, one thing led to another and pretty soon we were making plans to buy the house.
And then we got an e-mail from Mike.
"Where are you guys?"
Mike. Our Realtor. Our friend.
How does Mike fit into this?
We didn't know so we didn't answer him. We haven't answered him.
I asked some friends. They said, "Oh, well. Too bad."
I asked a real estate agent. He said, "It depends on what you signed."
We didn't sign anything. Besides, I wasn't asking about the legality of what had happened, I was asking about the morality of it.
I want to tell Mike we never set out to betray him.
We had every intention of buying a house from him.
It just happened.
I just wish I felt better about it.


Anonymous said...

I just got off my shift and should get some shut eye, but I've just got to comment. Sounds like you are a great friend! The kind we'd all like to have? Are you kidding?! Number one, you should have had Mike show you ALL houses whether the sellers had an agent or not. He just maybe could have helped you get a better price. You must think this guy works for nothing? If all his buyers were like you, the guy would starve and if he really showed you dozens of houses you really should feel guilty....when was the last time you worked for free?

Anonymous said...

Your intro "All's fair...." What's fair about using someone whose job is to work for buyers, & expect him to work for free? I'm surprised you had the guts to write the article. Why doesn't your husband teach kids for free & maybe if the school system likes his work, they may pay him later? Or maybe you could write news articles for free, just for the fun of it. Incredible!

Trisha said...

I disagree with the previous two comments. If you had set out to intentionally deceive Mike that would be one thing. However, you didn't; things unfolded in an unexpected way. That's how life is sometimes. Do I think you should be honest with Mike about things? Probably, but do I think you should feel guilty if you don't? Not at all. Unless I were in your shoes I can't honestly say what I would do. And do you know that Mike's intentions were honest? Maybe Mike didn't want to show you ALL the houses for sale because of his own agenda, who knows. Make peace with your decision.....and enjoy your new home!

Anonymous said...

It's obvious that the first two posters do not know the ins and outs of the real estate industry. Patti, I don't think you should feel guilty and it's not because I'm a cold-hearted person who thinks people should work for free. Realtors are salespeople. They're going to win some sales and lose some sales and get hired and fired by "clients". It's the nature of the business.

Anonymous said...

If real estate agents wanted to make money from showing homes, they'd charge a fee. Simple. The real estate business model is that you get your cut at the end, when the deal is done and the papers are signed.

We went through the same type of thing with our first house - we worked with a local Realtor who showed us several homes, but none fit - either needed too much work or were way too expensive. We put our search on hold for a while, and then a friend mentioned they were looking to move. The house was perfect. Voila.

If you wanted a real estate agent to represent you for peace of mind, then you could have called Mike back. But if you're experienced buyers, there's really no need to. He didn't do anything to find this house for you.