QUESTION: I represent the buyer and I’m doing a lot of duties that the seller’s broker usually handles. What are the minimum services required of the seller’s broker? What can I do if the seller’s broker isn’t meeting those requirements?
Section 1101.557 of the Real Estate License Act contains provisions that impose requirements on all agents regarding client communications and negotiations. At a minimum, agents must:
- Inform their clients if they receive material information related to the transaction
- Answer their client’s questions
- Present any offer to or from their client.
These duties exist regardless of the agreed-upon compensation payable to the broker. Agents cannot avoid these requirements by removing themselves from negotiations. The minimum-services provisions also prohibit a seller’s agent from instructing a buyer’s agent to negotiate directly with the represented seller. Likewise, a buyer’s agent is prohibited from instructing a seller’s agent to negotiate directly with the represented buyer.
There are certain circumstances in which an agent may deliver an offer to a represented party without violating the Real Estate License Act, but the agent must have the other broker’s consent to the delivery and send the other broker a copy of the offer. At no time may the agent cross the boundary into negotiations with the represented party.
If the seller’s broker isn’t fulfilling the minimum duties required, there’s not much you can do in the short term. You have a fiduciary duty to look after your client’s best interests; however, you may not interfere with the other broker’s agency relationship or do anything to prevent the transaction from closing. Continue to make every effort to contact the seller’s broker to discuss your concerns and keep a written record of your communications with the seller’s broker.
If you believe the seller’s broker violated the Real Estate License Act, any TREC rules, or the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, you may take steps to file a complaint with the Texas Real Estate Commission or Texas REALTORS®.
If you believe that you deserve an additional fee, you may seek compensation through arbitration through Texas REALTORS® or through other legally available means after the transaction closes.