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Old 02.09.2020, 12:27
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Weird interaction with real estate agent - new kind of scam?

Hi all,

I had a rather weird interaction with a real estate agent yesterday, which raised too many bells. Have I just been a victim of a scam attempt or is this for real and normal when dealing with ultra rich?? For obvious reasons not naming names and posting from throwaway acc.

So, I'm moving out of swiss and have a small property that I need to get rid of asap. It's in a desirable part of Switzerland (with too many rich fulks) and among cheapest on the almost dry local market: not too big, a bit too old (although renovated), which the banks don't like and scare off mortgage buyers with low ball valuations. But queues of people to see it are almost as bad as those trying to rent any affordable apartment in the city. Got almost hundred emails in the first few hours homegate published the ad (subscriptions apparently a yuuuge traffic driver). Naturally selling to highest bidder and don't need agents to move it with this kind of demand. Already on second/final bidding round, expecting to sign up with someone end of the week.

Out of the blue got a couple of days ago a call from some real estate agency - they have some buyers and want to see it for them. Don't recall getting any emails from this agency, don't know how they got my contact info, but ok. Agency itself seems legit. Not exactly a big name I've seen before, but seems more than a decade old, operating in several countries, okaish online reviews, job openings check out, etc.

So, agent came yesterday, first thing we talk is how she's not working for free and expects 2% commission. "Ok, but you represent a buyer?" - Yes but "by law" apparently I am the one who will have to pay her commission either way. Then some chit chat, some more bullshit - I especially liked her remark that two adjacent 9m^2 rooms I have are "illegally" small by today's regulations and I "must" demolish the wall between them to make some space.

Quick tour, not much questions raised, and then talking good 10-15 minutes mostly about her commission rather than the property. I agree I don't mind paying if she brings a top dollar buyer. But of course I need to see the offers to decide. And of course the buyers need to see the property to make offers. So she calls someone, *the* buyer apparently, and here he is in just 5 minutes! Quickly scans the property, chatting in italian with her, few questions to me. And then he wants to make a deal right here and now. Offers a good (but not too good) amount above my current best offer so I'm hesitant to take it.

Both push aggressively to sign a reservation contract same day. Because later this week he's off to vacation: no more business, no internet, no email. The buyer's allegedly rich and loaded, has already bought plenty of properties like this, doesn't need more than a nominal mortgage and can close the deal very fast, with all clean money (unlike another interesting offer I had). At some point offered to split off her commission 50/50 (whatever happened to the fact that earlier I had to pay it 100% "by law") and the commission itself got smaller, fixed size sum. Both seemed more interested in the reservation contract, than actual sale contract. Though the agent surely must know that by an actual law it doesn't have much legal weight. Asked who will sign the sale contact while he's on vacay - oh, she will (with PoA I suppose)! But reservation contact must be done in person while he's here, can't be done over email, can't even wait 3 days till Friday (when I expect final offers from others). They couldn't bother to see the property for whole two weeks while it was advertised but now even 3 days is too much to ask. With difficulties managed to talk them into giving me 1-2 days to think.

I suspect the 3-step spiel here might be: a) get me to sign a reservation contract with them, b) they fail to sign actual contract within any reasonable timeline but frame me as the faulting party, and c) bill me for the commission and everyone's wasted time. Or maybe even 1-step: screw contracts, screw everything, just send a (smaller) bill for all the work: driving, taking a few photos, and playing buyer with her buddy, 'cause she ain't working for free.

What do you think? Have you seen anything like this yourself?



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Old 02.09.2020, 12:33
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Re: Weird interaction with real estate agent - new kind of scam?

If you're not happy, don't sell to them.

Can you paste your text in a larger font next time please.
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Old 02.09.2020, 12:42
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Re: Weird interaction with real estate agent - new kind of scam?

If someone is trying so hard to sell you something, in this case a fast purchase in which you have to sign forms now, then it's not worth going ahead with. That just sounds too pushy, and therefore very suspicious.
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Old 02.09.2020, 12:47
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Re: Weird interaction with real estate agent - new kind of scam?

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Both seemed more interested in the reservation contract, than actual sale contract. Though the agent surely must know that by an actual law it doesn't have much legal weight. Asked who will sign the sale contact while he's on vacay - oh, she will (with PoA I suppose)! But reservation contact must be done in person while he's here, can't be done over email, can't even wait 3 days till Friday (when I expect final offers from others). They couldn't bother to see the property for whole two weeks while it was advertised but now even 3 days is too much to ask. With difficulties managed to talk them into giving me 1-2 days to think.
A truly rich person is already on permanent vacation, won't spent time visiting properties to choose where to invest. The rich and loaded doesn't pass the smell test for me. You have better offers, why worry?
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Old 02.09.2020, 12:54
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Re: Weird interaction with real estate agent - new kind of scam?

Nice first post! But I don‘t know why you spent your time even writing it. You‘ve explained the scam. Just tell them to clear off. End of...
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Old 02.09.2020, 13:16
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Re: Weird interaction with real estate agent - new kind of scam?

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Yes but "by law" apparently I am the one who will have to pay her commission either way.
Bullshit. Last sale I made I negotiated with the purchaser and they agreed that they would settle with the agent.

I would have ended the interview then.
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Old 02.09.2020, 19:08
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Re: Weird interaction with real estate agent - new kind of scam?

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You have better offers, why worry?
Well they do still offer a bit more then the next person. But the pushiness and unwillingness to budge on who pays the commission is off putting.
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Old 02.09.2020, 19:28
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Re: Weird interaction with real estate agent - new kind of scam?

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So, agent came yesterday, first thing we talk is how she's not working for free and expects 2% commission. "Ok, but you represent a buyer?" - Yes but "by law" apparently I am the one who will have to pay her commission either way.
By law: He who calls the tune pays the piper. You are free to tell them to go and shaft themselves and commission shall be paid by the buyer.

If someone mentions the law it always good to challenge them an ask them to quote the actual law (which you than verify using trusted or official sources).

If the new buyer wants to pay more you can include them in your bidding rounds.
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Old 02.09.2020, 20:21
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Re: Weird interaction with real estate agent - new kind of scam?

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I suspect the 3-step spiel here might be: a) get me to sign a reservation contract with them, b) they fail to sign actual contract within any reasonable timeline but frame me as the faulting party, and c) bill me for the commission and everyone's wasted time. Or maybe even 1-step: screw contracts, screw everything, just send a (smaller) bill for all the work: driving, taking a few photos, and playing buyer with her buddy, 'cause she ain't working for free.

What do you think? Have you seen anything like this yourself?
A bird in the hand is much better than one on the roof. I would expect that you have to pay the broker commission upfront and in cash for the buyer to sign the contract. Everything else takes too much time and is either risky for a scammer or requires additional players, like, a pass-through bank account. They'd need to identify themeslves for instance for a "Betreibung", i.e. to sue you.

Perhaps inform the police and ask for instructions how to proceed.
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Old 02.09.2020, 22:27
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Re: Weird interaction with real estate agent - new kind of scam?

She hasnt really done any work for you ie photos, advertising etc. so while the comission is normally paid by the seller everything can be negotiated....
If the buyer indeed is ready to buy, I dont see why you would need to sign a reservation. I dont know which canton you are in, here in Vaud the buyer picks and pays the notary. If its the same where you are, I would tell the agent to organize the notary appointment asap in order to secure the purchase for her client.
The 10% (of the purchase price) should be paid to the notaries account before said appointment.
Should the agent drag her feet in any way making the appointment, I would walk away.
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Old 02.09.2020, 22:44
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Re: Weird interaction with real estate agent - new kind of scam?

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A bird in the hand is much better than one on the roof. I would expect that you have to pay the broker commission upfront and in cash for the buyer to sign the contract. Everything else takes too much time and is either risky for a scammer or requires additional players, like, a pass-through bank account. They'd need to identify themeslves for instance for a "Betreibung", i.e. to sue you.
Well, they are not exactly hiding, it's some seemingly well established real estate agency. I'm scratching my head too as to why would they pull something like this and don't just want to charge their buyer, which will make everything easier.

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Perhaps inform the police and ask for instructions how to proceed.
This is a mere contractual matter, police doesn't get involved in these.

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If the new buyer wants to pay more you can include them in your bidding rounds.
Yeah that's what I figured. I replied they're free to make me an offer like everyone else, get into the line, and I'd attend to it shortly. Naturally asked for financing confirmation for a real actual bank, so I'd at least be able check that this rich (and famous they now told me!) buyer is actually rich and famous like I've been told.

The story now developed further. Got a new higher offer from them today (so, harder to say no) and still I must be the one to pay commission. But fetching financing confirmation turned out to a real problem. At first she pretended to not understand, "did you mean a phone call from his bank"? After the clarification of what exactly I meant, the new problem is that the client's banker is also on vacation!! What a coincidence! Is there a convention for the ultra-rich someone in progress right now? And apparently noone else at the bank can help. Yikes! I thought swiss banks are like swiss trains, 100% reliable, at least during business hours. But she is happy to help the situation by loaning the money from her for and paying reservation fee until the client/banker comes back.

Also I've thought of another way how this all can me over: implied contracts. There's some protection in the laws against carelessly concluding property contracts (stuff is generally void until going through a notary), but none for real estate agent contracts! A carelessly worded email or word exchange - if they get me to say in writing that I agree to pay their commission, might be all it takes to establish a contract between me and her, and voila she's my real estate agent now! The original buyer evaporates but the contract with her stays.
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Old 02.09.2020, 22:51
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Re: Weird interaction with real estate agent - new kind of scam?

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This is a mere contractual matter, police doesn't get involved in these.
If it is the setup for a scam they're preparing fraud.
If the police see it the same way they will be VERY interested. If, mind.
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Old 02.09.2020, 22:54
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Re: Weird interaction with real estate agent - new kind of scam?

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A carelessly worded email or word exchange - if they get me to say in writing that I agree to pay their commission, might be all it takes to establish a contract between me and her, and voila she's my real estate agent now! The original buyer evaporates but the contract with her stays.
If you're going to continue interacting with them at all, then I recommend that you put as much of the contact as possible in writing (mail) not in phonecalls.

In each mail, add a small-print footnote disclaimer sentence stating that you did not approach her, that you have not agreed to appoint her as your agent nor to any fees or commission in this regard, nor have you agreed to any of the terms of her offers of services nor yet of his offers to purchase.
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Old 02.09.2020, 23:07
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Re: Weird interaction with real estate agent - new kind of scam?

Could it be that you sign..... the agent makes you pay the commission, then they both disappear, before the sale properly goes through. Bye bye money and bye bye sale.
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Old 02.09.2020, 23:15
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Re: Weird interaction with real estate agent - new kind of scam?

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Could it be that you sign..... the agent makes you pay the commission, then they both disappear, before the sale properly goes through. Bye bye money and bye bye sale.
The comission is not paid before the signature at the notary. Additonal security is the 10% deposit paid by the buyer. Should the remaining amount not be paid on the day of the handover the seller has 2 options.

1. Force the sale in court
2. Walk away with the 10% deposit and find another buyer
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Old 02.09.2020, 23:15
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Re: Weird interaction with real estate agent - new kind of scam?

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Could it be that you sign..... the agent makes you pay the commission, then they both disappear, before the sale properly goes through. Bye bye money and bye bye sale.
Ah, good old advanced fee scam? No, it doesn't look so. I'm supposed to get a reservation deposit first. But then they might be able to sue me for its size plus their commission (low 5 figures) on top
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Old 02.09.2020, 23:23
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Re: Weird interaction with real estate agent - new kind of scam?

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Ah, good old advanced fee scam? No, it doesn't look so. I'm supposed to get a reservation deposit first. But then they might be able to sue me for its size plus their commission (low 5 figures) on top
That is strange since a reservation fee is deposited to the agent or directly to the notary.
Have you seen the reservation document? I would do nothing until a firm date with the notary is set plus everyone has submitted the required documents such as ID, resident permits etc
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Old 02.09.2020, 23:26
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Re: Weird interaction with real estate agent - new kind of scam?

Given that you have never signed a contract with the estate agent and I don't see why you just deal directly with the buyer and cut them out.
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Old 02.09.2020, 23:28
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Re: Weird interaction with real estate agent - new kind of scam?

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Given that you have never signed a contract with the estate agent and I don't see why you just deal directly with the buyer and cut them out.
Because not all contracts are made on paper. Most contract we do in our life are just verbal.
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