Legal Question in Real Estate Law in Maryland

We signed a dual agency contract w/ a real estate agent in Howard County, MD. The agent was unable to find us a property. We found a building lot and a builder to build a custom home. Because we thought the transaction would be complex and require ongoing negotiations, modifications, and knowledge of the local real estate market, we asked the seller to pay a 3% commission to the agent/agency. WE negotiated the contract (we are attys.) and once the purchase contract was signed, neither we or the seller's agent were unable to get any response to our emails and phone calls from the agent or agency. We were quite simply, abandoned. Aside from filing a complaint w/ the MD Real Estate Commission, what is our legal recourse? Do we have a claim for breach of contract or unjust enrichment? $21,000 is a lot of money to pay for nothing.

Asked on 9/11/12, 1:47 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Lawrence Holzman The Holzman Law Firm, LLC
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Probably depends on the exact wording of the listing agreement for starters -- and they're usually worded tightly to prevent home buyer/owners from gaming things by claiming it was really a DIY transaction at some point. Typically, the law otherwise requires that a sales person be the "procuring cause" of the contract.

I think if you can prove that the agent/broker was asked but failed to: (1) identify and locate the subject property; (2) negotiate the agreement; (3) participate in prep for settlement etc -- that you have at least a colorable case for breach of contract -- with the damages being the amount of the commission.

I don't think "unjust enrichment' fits --- that's a quasi-contract remedy useful for when there ISN'T a written contract to rely upon .

I'm happy to peek at your listing agreement if you want to email it.

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Answered on 9/11/12, 2:42 pm

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