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Dual Agency in Real Estate Transactions Presents a Problem

By Christopher Combs | February 4, 2019

Question: We listed our North Scottsdale home for sale with a long-time family friend because we trusted her.  A buyer has now signed a purchase contract for our home. This buyer, however, is represented by another real estate broker in the same brokerage firm as our listing agent.  Our listing agent says that she is sorry but she is now a dual agent who represents both us and the buyer.  Although we have signed the purchase contract and a form consenting to dual agency, we are not happy.  How can the same brokerage firm represent both us and the buyer, when…


Agent Cannot Disclose Information Learned During Representation

By Christopher Combs | February 1, 2019

Question: Our brokerage firm had a six-month listing on a five-acre mini-ranch near Wickenburg.  Although we were in escrow three times in this six months, all three buyers canceled because of a potability problem with the water from the well.  The listing has expired, but a friend that I have known since high school contacted me to discuss making an offer.  I don’t want to represent my friend in making an offer, but can I at least tell my friend about the potability problem with the water? Answer: Probably not.  After the term of a listing agreement expires, the agency relationship…


No Sewer Connection Despite Seller’s Representation

By Christopher Combs | January 24, 2019

Question: When I purchased my home in Paradise Valley, the seller represented to me that the home was connected to a sewer system.  I am now trying to sell my home, and the first buyer during the inspection period canceled the purchase contract because his home inspector discovered that my home was not connected to the sewer system, but only had a septic system.  The cost to connect to the sewer system is $35,000.00, which is basically the loss in value of my home.  Doesn’t my real estate agent that represented me when I purchased my home have some liability for…


Listing Commission is Owed if Seller Backs Out

By Christopher Combs | January 15, 2019

Question: I represented the buyer in the purchase of a Tempe home. Three days before close of escrow the Canadian seller changed his mind and refused to sign the deed to close escrow because of tax problems. The buyer had the financing and all inspection conditions were satisfied. The buyer got his earnest money back because he doesn’t want to hire a lawyer to sue the seller. I believe that as the buyer’s broker I am owed a commission by the listing broker who refuses to talk to me. Am I right? Answer: Yes. The general rule is that a…


Negligence of Real Estate Agent Requires Testimony of Another Agent

By Christopher Combs | December 21, 2018

Question: After we purchased our Glendale home we hired a landscape architect to design the landscaping for our back yard.  Although my husband and our two sons purchased the materials and did the work, they followed the design drawings of our landscape architect.  The problem is that during heavy rains our master bedroom is flooded because of improper drainage in our back yard.  When we contacted an attorney to file a lawsuit against our landscape architect, the attorney said that he would need at least $1,000.00 to hire another landscape architect to be able to testify as an expert witness…


What if both Spouses do not Sign the Listing Agreement?

By Christopher Combs | December 3, 2018

Question: My wife signed a listing agreement with a real estate broker to sell our Chandler home. My wife did not consult with me before signing this listing agreement. Are my wife and I bound by the listing agreement signed only by my wife? Answer: Probably. A listing agreement is not a real estate contract. Rather, it is a personal services contract hiring a real estate broker, similar to hiring a landscaper or an accountant. The signature of either spouse will bind both spouses and their community property for any breach of the listing agreement. If you and your wife are selling…


Is Seller Liable for Injury at Open House?

By Christopher Combs | November 28, 2018

Question: My husband and I were driving through a neighborhood in Chandler looking for a new home. A home in this neighborhood had an “open house” sign, and the real estate broker met us at the door. The real estate broker then walked through the home with us. When we walked into the family room, my husband tripped on some flooring which had become loose. The real estate broker said that he was sorry, and said that he had intended to put a warning sign there after the seller told him of the flooring problem. My husband severely wrenched his knee…


30th Anniversary of the Arizona Association of REALTORS® (“AAR”) Legal Hotline!

By Christopher Combs | October 30, 2018

The AAR Legal Hotline (“Hotline”) had its first telephone call from a REALTOR® thirty years ago. The Hotline had been established by an AAR committee with the assistance of our law firm. From 1988 until 2012 our law firm responded to more than 40,000 Hotline calls from AAR members (primarily Designated Brokers) with access to the Hotline.  REALTORS® throughout Arizona then had the opportunity to telephone a real estate lawyer with a question about a real estate legal issue. Within 24 hours the REALTOR® would then be sent a written answer. Although there was an initial concern in establishing the AAR…