Realtor Lawsuit Going To Court

by The Editors on January 23, 2008


In 2005 when Marty Ummel, 60, and her husband bought their home in the Serenada neighborhood of Carlsbad they say their Realtor Mike Little of RE/MAX Associates caused them to pay $150,000 more than they should have by not showing them comparable home prices in the area. The Ummels claim Little did this because he was more interested in his commission than the deal they got on their house. But the Ummel’s were not happy, according to story in the New York Times.

What makes Ms. Ummel different is that she is suing her agent, saying it was all his fault. . . . Ms. Ummel claims that the agent hid the information that similar homes in the neighborhood were selling for less because he feared she would back out and he would lose his $30,000 commission.

Of course, Little says it’s not his fault:

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 agent who was hired by Mr. Little as an expert witness, said in a court deposition.

What this all comes down to is how responsible are Realtors for the transactions they make. If they’re not responsible, then what is their whole purpose? Obviously, Realtors who represent the buyer have always been incentivized in the wrong direction, but that’s probably not going to change anytime soon. What makes this even more interesting is the seller was also a Realtor.

The case begins in North County Superior Court Monday, January 28, 2008. For all the details click the links to the following stories.

[Link: New York Times and Voice of San Diego]

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Carol Fulkerson January 24, 2008 at 12:08 pm

I am a realtor in Carlsbad, although I am with a different company. I checked the comparisions for this development in Aviara and found there were 2 sales in 2007( bad market) for what the homeowner paid in 2005( Great Market) and she feels she can sue the Realtor? I hope Mike Little sues her for defaming his name.

Jennifer Brown January 25, 2008 at 6:18 am

Just saw this story on the Today Show. “Sour grapes”, is all I can say. The buyer jumped in during a hot market. Shame on her for trying to blame the realtor for her risky investment choice. NO PERSON should go blindly into a home purchase. She is no spring chicken either. I am sure this is not her first home purchase. Is she going to try to say she was naive to the process? Bull! That means she could blame every realtor she ever worked with. This is reminiscent of all the people who purchased with risky interest rate deals and are now crying fool because; “Someone should have told them it was a bad deal”. Bull again! They assumed the risk knowing full well what it may cost them, and now it is. Ms Ummel, you made the offer, you signed the dotted line…now live with it!

GCV January 25, 2008 at 8:53 am

Next time she tries to buy or sell a house she might just find that this lawsuit wasn’t worth it.

She surely looked at many houses – either in person or in a list provided by her real estate agent. If she didn’t, then she was a foolish consumer. But then she made a decision as to which house best met her needs and was priced right. She made and offer and that offer was accepted.

In this day and age it is very easy to do research on comparable price housing. On the Internet and are easy to use. It is easy to pick up a booklet at the entrance to most supermarkets with tons of listings. If I were spending $1.2 million, I would do all the research I could.

She simply made a bad decision at the height of the market. At the time it was obvious that house pricing in Carlsbad was out of whack (I live and own a home there). She needs to take responsibility for a bad investment decision she made.

John January 25, 2008 at 7:41 pm

Do not underestimate the obligations imposed by virtue of the agent’s fiduciary duty.

Sherry February 4, 2008 at 7:17 pm

I’ don’t get it……..From everything I’ve read she’s referring to homes that sold around the same time as hers; in fact the one for $175,000.00 less closed on the same day! Oh, and lets not forget her Realtor was also her mortgagee broker (who ordered the appraisal) AND the seller was a Realtor. GIVE ME A BREAK, is everyone responding a Realtor?
Now I know what the term “spin” means.

Bill February 16, 2008 at 12:15 am

I’m the Realtor that represented the buyer of the home that sold for less on the same street. No view, small backyard, divorce were all factors in the lower price. Spin is sometimes a factor in sales but not in this case. Having someone to blame and suing, is buyers remorse gone wild.
It’s why our E&O insurance is so high.

Bethany April 1, 2008 at 4:53 pm

I know there have been many claims as far as this issue and the Ummels are concerned. There are 2 things people don’t seem to know about the other homes that sold for less. One house was rented back for 3 years. That took $100,000 of their purchase price and the other house was dumped in one of the ugliest divorces I have ever seen. Why hasn’t one reporter asked around to cover both sides of the story?

Sherry April 23, 2008 at 3:20 pm

Sorry, I haven’t been back to see the new posts. In regards to the homes that sold for less, I now understand. However, WHY did the media make it sound like these sales took place at much earlier or later times when that wasn’t the case? If what’s been said concerning the other two properties is true, it makes sence they would have sold for much less. The MEDIA coverage on this sucked!

Sherry April 23, 2008 at 3:21 pm

Oh sorry, I forgot to ask; anything new with this case?

BOB April 10, 2009 at 1:57 pm

The point is the real estate agent touts themselves as being professional and the consumer is better off using their services and the NAR constantly advertises and lobbies that point. But when things go wrong they accept no responsibility. Something has to change with the way they are compensated.

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