Hot on the Hotline: Where has the Seller gone?

Writen by Vicki Munson |

Published: February 24, 2023 |

Reading Time: 2 min

Scenario: You have an executed listing agreement with your Seller. The ‘For Sale’ sign is in the yard and the property is placed on the MLS. Buyers’ agents are contacting you to schedule showings. You reach out to your client to coordinate days and times to show the property and hear nothing back. Where has the seller gone?

This can happen more times than imagined. For instance, a Seller could have a medical emergency and be unable to communicate with their broker. Typically, a Seller’s friend or family member may reach out and advise you of the Seller’s situation. Remember to keep in mind that the Seller is your client and if other individuals come to you claiming that “they are taking care of things from now on” for the Seller, make sure that you obtain legal documentation to confirm that assertion. This legal documentation may include a power of attorney for property or a court order appointing a guardian of the estate who would assist the Seller with their real estate and financial matters. Brokers are recommended to have their attorney review any documentation that is provided by individuals claiming to have authority to make decisions on behalf of an absent or incapacitated Seller.

Or what about the alternative scenario? Your Seller does respond to you but only to refuse any requested viewing times without providing an alternative day and time, which in turn prevents you from marketing the property to buyers.

In this case, review your listing agreement to determine if the Seller is in default. The Seller may, in effect, be making it impossible for you as the broker to perform under the listing agreement. If the Seller does not respond to your attempts to contact them, consult with your managing broker and your attorney concerning actions you may take concerning this matter. Although it may be tempting to “walk away,” you are also held to the terms of the listing agreement and should seek a resolution of the same. Your attorney may be able to obtain a response from the Seller as to why they have been unresponsive and bring the matter to a close, either by obtaining a written cancellation of the listing or advising the Seller that the listing agreement will be terminated after such a time has passed based on their unwillingness to perform under the terms of the agreement.

About the writer: Prior to joining Illinois REALTORS® in 2022, Victoria (Vicki) Munson was an attorney in private practice focusing on real estate and estate planning matters. She enjoyed assisting buyers and sellers in bringing their transactions to the closing table. Victoria earned her bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and her Juris Doctor from The John Marshall Law School.

Your Illinois REALTORS® Legal Team