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Daily Real Estate News  |  January 22, 2008  |   Disgruntled Buyer Sues Buyer's Agent
What are the responsibilities of buyer agents? A case being tried next week in North County, Calif., Superior Court will help decide that question.

Buyer Marty Ummel is suing her buyer representative saying he hid information about what similar homes in the neighborhood were selling for because he feared she would back out and he would lose his $30,000 commission.

The defendant in the Ummel case is Mike Little, a veteran practitioner with RE/MAX Associates. He will argue that Marty Ummel, who brought the case with her husband, Vernon, is trying to shift the blame for the couple's own failures of research and due diligence.

''They simply didn't do what is expected of a knowledgeable, sophisticated buyer, and are now looking for someone other than themselves to take responsibility,'' Roger Holtsclaw, an associate who was hired by Little as an expert witness, said in a court deposition.

The Ummels discovered after they moved in that neighboring houses with similar amenities had sold recently for as much as $100,000 less. Their original suit included the appraiser, who was accused of skewing his report to make the Ummel's house seem worth the purchase price, and the mortgage broker. Modest settlements have been reached with both.

''I do not think I'm obsessive-compulsive, but I am 114 pounds of absolute perseverance,'' says Ummel, who has spent a year picketing the RE/MAX offices on weekends.

Little called the case ''ridiculous,'' adding 'The lady's a nut job. I didn't do anything wrong.''

Source: The New York Times, David Streitfeld (01/22/08)

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