Legal Question in Real Estate Law in New York

My 92 year old mother in New York signed a contract with a real estate agent to list her home. She is visually impaired and gets easily confused with details concerning financial transactions. She does not know the terms of the contract, nor if there is a cancellation clause. She started crying last week out of frustration and the inconvenience of having to leave her house while it is being shown.

I have reason to believe the realtor deliberately misrepresented the value of her home in a bait and switch tactic. I told him we were planning to renovate the waterfront bulk head and had already accepted a bid for the work. He suggested listing the home at $845,000. A few minutes later he said my mother changed her mind (he kept telling her not to fix the bulkhead) and said she wanted to sell as is without the repairs. I asked what the adjusted price should be without the $69,500 repair. He insisted on leaving at $845,000. I believe he did this knowing it was overpriced for the market so few realtors would bring clients by from other agencies.

To date he has brought 3 offers for exactly the same price: $650,000 on condition the bulkhead is not repaired. (My mother has already signed a contract with a marine company and is in the process of applying for permits and he knows this). I insisted the house be placed in MLS, but so far, all the offers are from his office. Two of the offers - he is double ending, one of the offers was presented by an agent in his office. All three are contractors who want to renovate the property (tear the existing home down) and sell as an investment and I assume, make a deal to re-list with him. When I contacted the agent and asked why he would list a home for $845,000 when it had been listed for $849,000 for 6 months previously with a different agency and not one offer was received as the feedback from viewers was that the canal bulkhead was in a terrible state. This realtor kept saying the 'market was hot' and the neighborhood in West Islip was very special--unique. I didn't believe him for an instance but my mother, at age 92, is easily persuaded. Now I asked him again, why would he suggest a figure at least almost $100,000 higher than other comps in the neighborhood. He evaded the question and said he convinced my mother now to drop the price to $785,000. However he keeps pushing these $650,000 offers to her from contractors he knows on condition the bulkhead is not repaired. I asked him why he did not provide copies of the written offers so that we know who is representing the buyers and who these individuals are. ( I suspect the same person just offering slightly more of a down payment each time, first 15%, then strangely, 47% then all cash but all $650 K). He claims he had the written offers with him but he did not provide them for review, nor did he suggest a counter offer. I have POA for my mother. I would like to drop this realtor and go with someone who is going to act in the best interest of my elderly mother. Do I hire an attorney at this point? File a complaint with the New York Board of Realtors. Contact an agency that handles complaints about elder abuse? I have not yet seen a copy of the contract. (She is in NY, I am in California and she is not online so can't email me documents to review, but of course, she can mail them). Any advice would be appreciated before I call this realtor’s broker (again) and lay out my case against him for malfeasance and misrepresentation.

Asked on 6/14/19, 11:41 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Richard Bryan Richard Bryan Attorney PC

Tread carefully here. Other than suffering emotional distress, mom hasn't really lost any money. How long is the listing contract for? Yes, West Islip is definitely a desirable location right now, absolutely. The Power of Attorney does not permit you to negate mom's decisions. Almost certainly it's a standard exclusive listing agreement written by the Board of Realtors. Not unusual in NY to keep a good listing "in house" instead of MLS. You can also hire a lawyer to file papers with the court and ask to be appointed as guardian for mom's financial affairs. Then you can kill the listing contract.

Good luck.

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Answered on 6/18/19, 2:03 pm

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