Tacky Colors Lawsuit

by Maureen McCabe on June 5, 2007

cottage with yellow roses

This is story set in Illinois. This is not in Ohio… much less Columbus.

Vicki Watzlawick in Algonquin Illinois wrote on ActiveRain of a buyer suing their agent over the feedback they’ve provided to the seller via the listing agent. The buyers thought the colors in the house were tacky.


I guess it’s more a Showing Feedback Lawsuit….than a Tacky Colors Lawsuit. We do feedback in Columbus.

What’s feedback? I show a property (as a buyer’s agent) within 24 hours, a fax or an email linking to an online form and / or 4 phone calls from various people on the listing agent’s team wanting to know what the buyers thought of the home (that may be an exaggeration.. in some cases definitely not in others.)

Reciprocity, my listing is shown an email goes out to the buyer’s agent asking for feedback. The sellers wait with bated breath for what the buyers thought of the house.

I like the online email feedback. The phone calls from the teams where the right hand has no clue what the left hand is doing, have decreased recently I believe because they can look up the online form.

The point of showing feedback obviously is to provide feedback that can help the seller get the house sold.

In the Illinois lawsuit case the buyers agent in providing feedback said the buyers thought the colors were tacky in the house. When the buyers found nothing else to buy they wrote an offer on the house. The sellers would not negotiate so the buyers paid full price. Vicki wrote:

“The buyers are OK with the full price until they get to the closing table and they find out from apparently the Sellers attorney that the Sellers requested full price because they were really upset about the Tacky Color comment. The buyers are now suing their agent for disclosing information because they feel they could have gotten a better price if this information wasn’t passed on.”

That the buyers considered the colors in the house tacky was confidential info is what I assume the buyers are suing for.

It will be interesting to watch. I have to admit I wondered reading it if it is an urban legend. I know an agent in Naperville Illinois whose said for years providing feedback is a potential liability. I personally prefer a link to a published newspaper article, or something in a blog entry that gives this sort of story credibility. I tried Googling for it. No go.

I will be watching for it in the news.

It could change the way we do business. Maybe we will get permission slips from buyers about what we can disclose to the seller via their listing agent. I have mixed feelings about showing feedback from both sides.

Luckily we don’t have any homes on the market with tacky colors in Central Ohio :-)

Someday maybe I will write about saying “burn the house down” in feedback. My client could have had a great Clintonville home that smelled like cat urine if not for my feedback. Or not.

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1 Maggie Dokic June 5, 2007 at 05:46 am

The last showing I did, the buyer said, “drop the price a hundred grand. Maybe I’ll buy it as a tear-down.” Glad the listing agent didn’t call for feedback.

2 MaureenMcCabe June 5, 2007 at 07:10 am

If they did would you have repeated that? Not that a buyer who said that would go 180° and decide it is the house for them. Or would they?

3 Kristal Kraft June 5, 2007 at 07:53 am

Whether this story is an urban legend or not, it does have truth to it. I’m always concerned about providing feedback that might lessen my clients’ negotiating position. We never know when all the showings are done, how a home will stack up in comparison to others. So until that happens as an agent we need to be careful.

With that said, how valuable is “feedback” that is censored?

4 MaureenMcCabe June 5, 2007 at 08:55 am

If the seller doesn’t benefit from feedback because the agent showing their home can not really give meaningful feedback… maybe we should all stop doing it. You go first.

Thanks for the comment.

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