Agent in violation if making up a tale about competing offer

Mailbag

January 20, 2002

Dear Mr. Azrael:

My wife and I began searching for a townhouse in a desirable part of the Federal Hill area. We found one that was reasonably priced and made an offer. This home was listed at the same price for over 90 days after an earlier reduction.

We were told there was another interested bidder and that our initial offer was not sufficient.

Of course, we expect agents to emphasize that their property is desirable and that other parties may be interested. But is there a way to ensure that the "other" offer sheet is real?

Do agencies record all offers, accepted or otherwise, and keep them on file? Can these records be subpoenaed, to ensure no foul play?

Our agent planned to acquire a copy of their contract, but can't this be easily forged?

Mark Gosnell

Baltimore

Dear Mr. Gosnell,

Real estate professionals are required to promptly submit a written offer to the seller.

Normally, if the offer is rejected, the seller's agent notes that on the offer and returns it to the buyer's agent. Sometimes, the rejection is accompanied by a counter offer from the seller, but this is not required.

Real estate professionals also are required to be truthful.

Misrepresentation concerning other offers on a property is a violation of the real estate licensing law.

I would expect that if your agent informed you that there had been an offer on the property from another buyer that this was a truthful statement. Since you're concerned, I suggest you make an appointment to see the manager of your agent's real estate office.

The manager should be able to verify whether the information provided to you was accurate. Many agents do keep records of all showings and offers on properties they list, although it is not mandatory to maintain this information.

It should not be difficult for the manager to find out if there were other offers on the property in question.

If you still believe there may be foul play, you can file a complaint with the Maryland Real Estate Commission.

The matter will then be investigated to determine if there is a potential violation of the real estate licensing law.

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