Collecting on a Buyer Broker Agreement

Question:  I represented a Buyer for several months and had them sign a Buyer Broker agreement showing a 3% commission.  During that period of time, I showed them many homes.  They never found a home that they liked.  After expiration of the agreement I found out that they purchased a home from a family member during the Buyer Broker period.  This was a home I did not show them.   Can I still be paid a commission?

Answer: This is a very good question and probably an issue that arises too often.  Because the Agent in this case had a Buyer Broker agreement signed under Section 2. (Brokerage Fee) being marked at 3%, and the address in section 1. marked “The County” under the address, it would seem that this would be any easy argument.  The Buyer would owe the Company the 3% fee.  After all under section 2. it states the following:   If the property is not listed with a brokerage, in the absence of a commission agreement with the owner of the selected property, the Brokerage Fee shown above shall be paid by the Buyer. 

However each case is different.  In this instance the Buyer purchased a home from a family member that was not listed.  The Agent did not show them this house.  So the Procuring Cause argument goes out the window.  The Buyer still should rightly pay this Agent and the Brokerage. After all, the Buyer Broker agreement was still in effect.  The argument from the Buyer was that they did not remember signing this agreement and it was signed electronically.  They claimed that the Agent was at fault for not explaining the commitment they were making. They just clicked a box on their computer.  The question remains, could the Brokerage sue the Buyer for the commission?  If the argument was between Brokerages, the Broker could file a complaint with the UAR and go to Arbitration where they could plead their case before a panel of their peers.  Unfortunately because this home was not listed, the only recourse the Agent/Broker has is to sue either in District Court or Small Claims Court.  If Broker/Agent were willing to pay the filing fees which would probably run from $500. to $700. most cases could be presented in Small claims court.  The maximum amount one could collect in Small Claims is: $11,000.  If the suing Broker proved their case, won the argument and were awarded a judgement, they would still have to collect on that judgement.  That may not be an easy task either.  And lacking a Procuring Cause argument may make for a weaker case.   I suggest talking with your Broker and perhaps the UAR attorneys if you ever face a case like this to determine if this is a battle worth fighting.