Another protected group?

Before red flags start going off like crazy, first let me tell you that I did get permission from the family I am about to talk about to tell you about their predicament. It’s a huge and frustrating problem and it goes beyond this single family. I sit in complete and total awe at the lack of response this family is getting and feel something needs to change.


We have a client who I will call Mary that has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Mary’s son and daughter-in-law contacted us months ago about selling their mother’s home in Miami. They explained it would be a slow process because of their mom’s condition and being patient was the key to a successful and non-stressful process. Their mom had lived in the same house for many years and convincing her to sell and move would be very difficult. After months of communicating back and forth, the house was put on the market for sale and Rick has done a beautiful job of making Mary feel comfortable and safe and always keeping in mind the delicate nature of this sale. We were asked to communicate every aspect of the transaction to the family who also had power of attorney. Mary’s kids requested no lock boxes for safety and advance notice for showings.

Predatorial Nature of Real Estate

As you know, we switched brokerages on July 1st and the listing was released to our new brokerage because of the client’s medical condition. This is where the story turns an ugly page. In the time that the listing was canceled on the MLS, another Realtor jumped at the chance of picking up a canceled listing (don’t blame him for that – it’s one of the ways real estate agents get business today). This agent called Mary, went to her house and had a listing agreement signed on the spot. She did not understand what she was signing, agreed to pricing way below what she needed, gave him a key to the property and even agreed to a lock box.

Mary’s daughter and sister called us in total panic. What could they do to stop this madness? They contacted the agent, they contacted the broker and they even contacted RAMB (our local Realtor Board) to remove the listing from the MLS immediately. It’s been 5 days and they have not been able to achieve anything.

  • The broker asked for the medical diagnosis and a copy of the power of attorney and would not cooperate until they had the documents (which were mailed from another state)
  • The daughter asked that the house not be shown until everything was resolved and 2 different people showed up unannounced at Mary’s door this weekend.
  • RAMB said they would try to help but have not done anything
  • The agent was furious at the implication that Mary would be “sick” since she seemed perfectly fine.
  • Mary’s son is out of the country and feels absolutely helpless
  • The agent has changed the price of the house twice in the five days without consent of any kind and refuses to even remove the listing from the MLS temporarily.

Something needs to change

Are you guys in as much shock as we are? The Realtor code of ethics prohibits us from interfering, since the property has been listed with another agent…..and that’s when I just have to stand up and ask:

Who is protecting our elderly? What can we do as Realtors to prevent this from happening to anyone else? What if this agent were to show up tomorrow with a bogus offer and have Mary sign it? What if God forbid something were to happen to Mary because of the irresponsibility and ignorance of this agent?

MLS rules are different throughout the country, but could there be a way to tag canceled listings when they are delicate like this so that people like Mary would not be victim to evil predators?

I don’t know what the answer is, but something clearly needs to happen. Could you imagine what this family is feeling right now? I am completely offended at the way our industry has handled Mary’s case, I bow my head in shame.

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