Homeowner can use any Realtor she chooses

We plan to sell our house in the spring. We interviewed three Realtors and told one we plan to sign with her at the end of the month. In the meantime, we notified our neighborhood and have shown the house to two parties.

In our mail today, there was a handwritten note from a Realtor (someone in the same company) saying they have a well-qualified buyer interested in our neighborhood.

I think this is more an ethical matter than a legal one, since nothing’s been signed, but before I call this out-of-the-blue Realtor, do you feel we have an obligation to our chosen Realtor should we be lucky enough to sell to the potential buyer?

I’m always skeptical, so I anticipate that when I call I’ll be told that the buyer already bought something else, but the Realtor would “be glad to help sell your house.”

— F. M.

The agent to whom you promised the listing already knows, as you do, that where the sale of real estate is concerned, nothing is binding until it’s in writing. Disappointments are part of the job. But if you feel comfortable with her, go ahead and put the house on the market as originally planned. The other agent will show the house to that interested buyer anyhow. If that’s how it sells, the commission will be shared.

The out-of-the-blue agent may well have a buyer interested in the area, or they might just be canvassing for listings. He or she could be contacting only people doing for-sale-by-owner, or placing mailbox notes (which is against the law, by the way) down your whole street. It’d be interesting to inquire with the neighbors.

And while we’re at it, the word “Realtor” is trademarked and capitalized. It denotes a licensed broker who has chosen to join a private group, the National Association of Realtors. It has become too popular and is slipping into the language. That’s how Bayer lost exclusive rights to the word “Aspirin,” which is still copyrighted, for instance, in Canada.

State licenses are issued to real estate salespersons and more experienced real estate brokers. In the column, I usually settle for the general term “agent,” which simply means a person authorized to act for another.

Timeshare Advice

A timeshare is a wonderful thing if you are going to the same location at the same time year after year, and if you can bank unused time and use it later.

But remember: There has to be a vacancy at that later date. And if you want to use time at Aruba instead of Florida, there has to be a vacancy in Aruba.

As in any business transaction, rely only on what is in the written contract, not in the sales talk! And when you are done with your timeshare, offer it for sale for a dollar.

— I. D. S.

I’m sure many people have good experiences with their timeshares, but they aren’t the ones who write in. (This note evidently comes from someone who owns — or owned — a timeshare. It’d be interesting to hear whether it was finally sold for that dollar, and how.)

Condo Dilemma

My wife is a member of a finance committee at the age 55-plus condos where we live. It offers recommendations to the executive board, as we are a self-managed community of 66 units. The committee has determined that our reserve fund will fall short in 2021 at the current contribution level.

Our monthly dues are based on the square footage of each unit. The committee would like to see a $50-per-door raise in dues to cover expenditures over the next five to 10 years. Another option would be a special assessment on each condo when the money is spent.

The majority of the tenants here are over 75 years old, and they haven’t had a dues hike for about six years. Most people can afford a raise, but it could present a hardship for one or two. We have some widows who are on fixed income. I’m writing to get your suggestions as to how we might raise extra money for the reserve fund.

— M. J.

Your concern for the elderly owner on a budget is commendable. A lack of increase in dues for six years is an achievement you can be proud of, but it stands to reason that costs do go up every year.

Perhaps some other readers will have suggestions.

Contact Edith Lank at www.askedith.com, at edithlank@aol.com or at 240 Hemingway Drive, Rochester NY 14620.

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