When something goes awry after the close of a real estate transaction, the first person on the list of who-to-call-for-a-solution is usually the Realtor®.  That predictable instinct is understandable, especially if there has been a level of trust built, and if not trust, then certainly some expectation of accountability.

When this happens, sympathetic brokers, under the guise of being a super servant, often attempt to act as an intermediary, when the real truth is, they have no contractual obligation to do so and should only act as an advisor to steer the affected party towards legal advice or provide contact information for the offending party.  The problem, often coupled with buyers remorse, is usually a missing appliance or window treatment or because some system or appliance malfunctioned after closing.

      The real estate brokers have no legal, moral, or ethical duty to enforce a contract to which they are not a part.  To place themselves in the role of enforcer only adds legal risk and confusion.  Since many brokers don’t fully understand their limited legal role as a licensed broker, the clear lines of statutory-agency-duty frequently get blurred, especially when brokers are intent on providing memorable service that sets them apart from others.  That may explain why brokers often get enticed into the role of enforcer and thus by their actions, inadvertently imply an obligation of duty that misleads the public concerning their actual role. 

     A disgruntled buyer once accused me of “not living up to the contract he had with me.”  This was a puzzling accusation, since I was the manager of the Listing Broker in the transaction and he had been represented by a broker from a different company.   I had not had any contact with him and had no contract that bound me to him.  Evidently he was referring to the Purchase and Sale Contract he had with the seller.  That transaction was now closed and he was seeking relief because he felt duped by the way the property had been listed and felt that some items had not been repaired properly that had been negotiated in the sales contract.  His mistaken perception was that I should be accountable for the terms of the contract because I supervised the listing broker.  He had made no effort to extract a remedy from the seller who was in fact, bound by the terms of the contract.  A more clear understanding of contract terms and agency duties may have directed his wrath in a different direction.