If we signed a contract with a realtor to act as our agent to sell our house and to find a new home, do we have to include our agent if find a home for sale by owner?

Is my realtor entitled to commission if we find a house for sale by owner and do not want to involve her in the purchase of the new property. She sold our house, we signed an agreement for her to sell our property and find us new property, however, she has not found a place for us. We found the new place on our own. Do we have to pay her a commission?

Asked on April 6, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It depends on what the contract you signed said. If it states she is commissioned on any home you purchase during a certain period, then she gets a commission regardless of her contribution. If it states she gets a commission on homes she shows you, if you buy then, she does not get the commission. Contracts are enforced according to their plain language. In the event this contract is entirely "silent" on this subject, then it would be interpreted in line with, essentially common sense--which is that she is commissioned if invovled in some way; that's how most people (and judges) would understand a contract which does not specify what happens, since people are not commonly paid for doing nothing, unless there is a contract which by its terms gives them compensation in that case.

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