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…


Must I Pay Commission if the Sale is Canceled?

By Christopher Combs | August 24, 2018

Question: After my husband retired we signed a listing agreement with a real estate broker to sell our Tempe home because we wanted to move to a condominium in east Mesa. Our real estate broker quickly located a buyer, and we executed a purchase contract to sell our Tempe home to that buyer. Our children have been very unhappy about us selling our Tempe home because they were all born in this home. We believe now that we acted too quickly in signing the purchase contract. We contacted our buyer, and our buyer agreed to cancel the purchase contract if we…


Fair Housing Laws in Cities Can Protect More Classes

By Christopher Combs | October 30, 2017

Fair Housing Laws in Cities Can Protect More Classes   Question: In a recent column you said that age is not a protected class under state and federal fair housing laws, and that senior citizens have no protection under fair housing laws just because they are old, e.g., some senior citizens run marathons. You also said, however, that many senior citizens are “disabled,” which is a protected class under state and federal fair housing laws. You are correct about state and federal fair housing laws, but cities and towns can provide in their fair housing laws for additional protected classes. For…


Dual Agency Disclosure Must Be Signed By Both Buyer And Seller

By Christopher Combs | September 13, 2017

Dual Agency Disclosure Must Be Signed By Both Buyer And Seller   Question: I am a real estate agent in a brokerage firm in north Phoenix that has more than 300 real estate agents. Today I received an offer to buy one of my listed homes from another real estate agent in my brokerage firm who is representing the buyer. I have never met this real estate agent before, but she says that we are dual agents representing both the seller and the buyer because we are real estate agents in the same brokerage firm. Is that correct?   Answer: Yes. A…