The Most Ridiculous Thing I’ve Ever Seen?


What does ridiculous mean?

While I’m sure we could find some synonyms with relative ease, defining the word is a bit more difficult.

Then again, examples are always worthwhile.

The Buffalo Bills blowing a late lead in spectacular fashion on Sunday with a Josh Allen fumble spirit a Josh Allen interception – that’s ridiculous.

Putting my 3-year-old son down and saying, “Don’t go anywhere” right as they’re about to cut the cake at a birthday party, and expecting him to remain by my side – that’s ridiculous.

A listing agent telling me, “Don’t forget, our offer day is Tuesday,” on their sixth listing, above five months, and this marking the second time they have under-listed the house and held an offer night – that’s ridiculous.

But when I read an article from Real Estate Magazine (REM) on Friday night, I literally said aloud, as I enjoyed a scotch alone in my basement, “That’s ridiculous.”

I read the article twice.

No joke.

It didn’t make any sense to me, and while there’s always a good chance that scotch on an empty stomach can lead to confusion and a lack of spatial awareness, the second reading of this article proved that it wasn’t the scotch after all .

Ridiculous.

There’s no other way to describe this article, and while I realize this will elicit a lot more “Real estate agents suck” reactions, I don’t care.

It’s just too ridiculous not to share.

Plus, I had a special guest blog planned for Monday, but somebody decided to stretch their guest blog into an 8,000-word short story, and we’ll have to leave that for next week or the week after.

So this morning, I’ll let this article, the ridiculousness therein, and some of your reactions do the talking.


“Agent Sues For Commission On Unaccepted Offer”
REM Online:
November 10, 2022

Often, an agreement to purchase real estate will have a conditional period to allow for various steps to be completed by either the buyer or seller.

An appeal decision in Ontario’s Divisional Court affirmed that a party cannot generally sue for compensation under an agreement until it is firm and binding. This principle applies to real estate agents seeking to recover a commission as well as the parties to the conditional agreement, as demonstrated by Covenoho v. HomeLife Response Realty Inc.

The decision arose from a dispute between a real estate agent and two brokerages. In January 2019, the agent executed an Independent Salesperson’s Agreement with a brokerage, Right at Home, and was provided with a salesperson’s manual.

In June 2020, a property in Mississauga, Ont. was listed for sale on MLS for $799,800.00. The agreement to list the property was signed by the listing brokerage, Homelife, and the owners of the property.

The agent presented a conditional offer on behalf of some prospective buyers to purchase the property for $805,000. The offer contained conditions for the buyers to arrange financing, conduct a home inspection, and confirm they could obtain insurance.

If the property had been sold to the agent’s clients, she would have been entitled to a portion of the sales commission because she would have been the cooperating broker. Unfortunately for the agent, the sellers did not accept the conditional offer. Despite this development, the agent demanded that Homelife pay her the cooperating brokers’ portion of the real estate fees. Homelife understandably took the position that it was not required to pay the agent any commissions since there was no sale.

In response to a threat by the agent to commence a lawsuit against Homelife for the commissions, the vice president of legal for Right at Home advised that she did not have the standing to bring the lawsuit and that she was required to withdraw it. Furthermore, the agent was advised that Right at Home believed they did not have any claim against Homelife for unpaid commissions either.

Undeterred by these developments, the agent commenced a lawsuit for the commissions. Shortly after, her Independent Salesperson’s Agreement was terminated by Right at Home.

In December 2021, a deputy judge of the Ontario Small Claims Court dismissed the agent’s claims against both brokerages. The agent then appealed to the Divisional Court.

On appeal, while the agent raised numerous issues about the real estate industry in general, the court focused on what actually took place between the parties from a legal standpoint.

The appeals court found that there was never a binding purchase and sale agreement between the buyers and sellers. For parties to agree on the contract terms, they must have reached the same understanding as to the essential terms of the agreement.

In this case, the sellers had listed their property for sale, which was, at most, an expression of interest in selling and an invitation for offers.

The agent argued that her clients’ conditional offer to purchase the property was an “interim acceptance” of the seller’s offer to sell. However, this position was contrary to Canada’s well-understood principles of contract law.

In the court’s words, “a conditional victim is not a valid victim.” An offer conditional on certain events or conditions coming to pass may only be completed if those happen. Here, the buyers may not have been able to obtain financing or insurance, in which case they would not have been required to complete the purchase.

The agent argued that Right at Home was negligent in not suing Homelife to obtain her commission. The court rejected that argument since, under the listing agreement, even if the sellers had an obligation to accept an offer such as the one tendered by the agent’s clients, the only party that could enforce that obligation was Homelife.

The listing agreement was a contract between Homelife and the sellers. The agent and Right at Home had no rights under the listing agreement. Nothing in any of the applicable rules, regulations or policies imposes a legal obligation on the sellers to accept the offer.

The agent asserted that she was being “denied access to justice” because her claim against Homelife was not pursued by Right at Home. However, a person who does not have a valid claim is not being denied access to justice simply because a third party refuses to advance that claim on their behalf. The court noted that Right at Home was within its rights not to advance the agent’s claim and to terminate her position under the Independent Salesperson’s Agreement.

The agent was not denied access to justice since her claim was adjudicated at both the trial and the appeal level.

As a result, the appeal was dismissed by the Divisional Court.

The decision shows that an agent is not generally entitled to recover a commission that would have been payable had a conditional offer become firm and binding. This result may be unfortunate to an agent who puts a substantial amount of time and effort into assisting clients with putting forward a conditional offer. Still, it reflects well-established principles of contract law.

Absent a binding contract, formed by the fulfillment of all outstanding conditions, there are likely no valid grounds for enforcing a commission payment, and one should not have any reasonable expectations of compensation until an offer becomes firm.


Is this not one of the most ridiculous things you’ve read in a long, long time?

I wasn’t exaggerating when I said, “I read the article twice.” I kept thinking that there had to be more to this, but there wasn’t.

This is just an agent who feels he or she should be paid for no reason.

There’s no logic here, of course.

And as crazy as the lawsuit was, the fact that the plaintiff appealed the original ruling is even more fascinating.

The entire case can be found on CanLII here.

The appeal was bizarre. I read the whole thing too and while the REM article above summarizes both the original case and the appeal, reading the full appeal shines a light on just how bizarre this was.

I mean, the plaintiff/agent represented herself. That’s usually what people do in movies when they’re a bit off their rocker.

There were a few parts in the appeal that stood out to me.

First, there’s this:

The Appellant asserts that the Deputy Judge was biased because she did not consider all of the Appellant’s arguments and evidence.

The Appellant argues that, as a potential homeowner, the Deputy Judge would not want to prevent homeowners from being able to receive competing offers.

The plaintiff, or appellant in the appeal, is arguing that the original judge ruled against her because he could be a property buyer!

It’s always somebody otherwise‘s fault!

But even more bizarre was how the appellant described her relationship with her brokerage, with respect to her contract:

The company has full control of the agent and the bank account but bars the agent’s tort claims even when the brokerage is the one doing wrong. It is self serving. It is neither smart, nor clever. It is unconscionable and resembles human trafficking. (emphasis in original)

Yikes.

I don’t know the agent, nor do I know the brokerage, nor do I understand their relationship. But I’d have a hard time believing that it “resembles human trafficking.”

But this was my favorite quote in the ruling:

…there is the Appellant’s assertion that she is being “denied access to justice” because her claim against Homelife was not pursued by Right at Home.

There are two problems with this argument.

First, a person who does not have a valid claim is not being denied access to justice simply because a third party refuses to advance that claim on their behalf. The decision that Right at Home made not to advance the Appellant’s claim was well founded on both the facts and the law.

Second, in any event, the Appellant has had her claim adjudicated at both the trial and the appellate level.

She has had access to justice.

Maybe the fact that my father was a lawyer and I grew up around this stuff is what makes it interesting to me, but those of you who are still with me – have you ever seen anything so ridiculous?

We’re living in crazy times, so perhaps we shouldn’t be so caught off guard by the sight of crazy.

Happy Monday, folks!




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