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Difficulties force couple to cancel purchase contract

October 18, 2019
By ERIC FEICHTHALER - Real Estate Law , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Dear Mr. Feichthaler:

I hope you can help: I drove by a house that had a sale sign that my husband and I thought would be perfect for us. We submitted an offer to the Realtor on the sign, and it was accepted by the seller. After a few days, the Realtor became very aggressive with us. He demanded all sorts of documents, including our bank statements. After he asked us to sign a document that said we expressly said we promised to never sue him or the seller about the roof (which he says is a "standard" document) we became concerned. We read your column, so we were sure to have an inspection period that would allow us to cancel in the 14 days after the contract, so we cancelled. The Realtor was furious, he told us that since he wrote the contract, we now had to work with him on any other purchase we make in Lee County. Is this true? We definitely never want to work with him again.

- Tammy B., Cape Coral

Dear Tammy,

Thank you for your question, and I am happy that my column has given some useful information to you! During the inspection period, there are all sorts of actions you can take to make sure the property is in the condition you think it is, and to ensure it meets your needs. Most of my clients hire an inspector to look at the house top to bottom, including the most important (and expensive) items like roof, electrical and plumbing. Some clients also have a desire to use the property for a specific purpose, like a home business. The inspection period is the time to check with the city to confirm you are allowed to run this business from home.

The Realtor should have been thrilled you came to him directly. In most situations, a Realtor representing the buyer will present an offer to the seller. If the transaction successfully closes, each Realtor received half of the commission available. Since you approached this Realtor directly, he would receive the entire commission for himself. Based on your facts, this Realtor does not have an exclusive relationship to represent you in the purchase of the property (unless you signed something to the contrary). Therefore, you can engage any other Realtor you like to represent you in the purchase of your property.

Based on what you wrote, it sounds like you would benefit from the representation and professionalism of a Realtor that you feel comfortable with. In fact, if you decided to make another go at the property you mentioned, the new Realtor can represent you on that as well, and would likely be entitled to half the commission.

The listing agent had no right to ask you for bank statements under the circumstances you provided. If the listing agent had been more respectful to you and didn't make unreasonable demands, he would be getting the full commission when you bought the property. Like every profession, there are great Realtors in our community. Talk to your friends and family members about working with someone you can trust and rely upon.

Eric P. Feichthaler has lived in Cape Coral for over 30 years and graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral. After completing law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he returned to Southwest Florida to practice law and raise a family. He served as mayor of Cape Coral from 2005-2008, and continues his service to the community through the Cape Coral Caring Center, Cape Coral Historical Museum, and Cape Coral Kiwanis. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for over 18 years, and they have four children together. He earned his board certification in Real Estate Law from the Florida Bar. He is AV Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell for professional ethics and legal ability, and is a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator.

Mr. Feichthaler can be reached at, or (239) 542-4733.

This article is general in nature and not intended as legal advice to anyone. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting on any matter of legal rights and obligations.



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