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Q: We settled the sale of our Bay Area home and moved to Arizona. The seller’s agent we used recently contacted us for help in resolving the brokerage fees paid by us. We knew there was some conflict between the buyer’s agent and our seller’s agent before the close of escrow. However, we bought the Arizona home contingent upon the successful sale and closing of our Bay Area house. As a result, we insisted that the brokers not jeopardize our transaction and instead settle their disputes after the close of escrow.

Yesterday, our seller’s agent left a voicemail asking us to be witnesses in his pursuit of the buyer’s agent’s brokerage fee. According to our seller’s agent, he showed our home to the eventual homebuyers after they called about one of his advertisements. He also sent all the reports, inspections and disclosures to the first-time homebuyers and their parents. The following week, the same homebuyers, represented by a different realty firm, proposed a purchase offer on our home, which we accepted. Consequently, our seller’s agent feels he is the procuring cause of the sale and deserves the brokerage fee paid to the realty brokerage firm and buyer’s agent who represented the homebuyers.

We believed he looked out for our best interests as sellers and so should be adequately compensated as a seller’s agent. But now we feel he is looking out for his best interests at our discomfort. What do home sellers like us do in these situations?

A: The claim your seller’s agent is about to file is most likely with his local association of Realtors. When I was a presiding officer in these arbitration hearings, procuring cause claims were very common. However, it’s commonly two buyer’s agents fighting over one brokerage fee. For instance, buyer’s agent No. 1 showed property “A” to the homebuyers on week one and week two. The homebuyers go house shopping with buyer’s agent No. 2, who shows property “A” on week three, submits an offer, and the sellers accept. Later, buyer’s agent No. 1 learned of the sale and filed a procuring cause claim with his or her local association for the entire buyer’s agent’s brokerage fee paid to buyer’s agent No. 2.

The National Association of Realtors created a four-page worksheet with over 50 questions to assist in arbitration hearings regarding procuring cause. Your seller’s agent will have a tough time overcoming all or most fact-seeking questions, especially these two: 14. (b) Did the buyer express the desire not to deal with the broker and refuse to negotiate through him? 16. If there was an interruption or break in the original series of events, how was it caused, and by whom?

Kindly wish your seller’s agent good luck in an email. Explain that the transactions and move have taken their toll and that you cannot assist in his claim.

Questions? Realtor Pat Kapowich is a career-long consumer protection advocate and Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager. 408-245-7700 Pat@SiliconValleyBroker.com DRE# 00979413 www.SiliconValleyBroker.com YouTube.com/PatKapowich