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Shabbat Parashat Bo 5780

P'ninat Mishpat: Realtors Fee

(based on ruling 77101 of the Eretz Hemdah-Gazit Rabbinical Courts)

Case: Def2, a couple looking for an apartment, contacted the plaintiff (=pl), a licensed real estate agent. Pl took def2 to see a house with an attached living unit, and then to four, almost complete, expensive (around 3 million shekels) cottages, thinking that def2 and her parents (=def1), who came along, might each buy one. No realtor contracts were signed. The cottages were too expensive, and pl was unsuccessful at lowering the prices. A few months later, def2 called pl, telling her that they were buying two cottages and offering 12,000 shekels as a realtor fee (since the standard realtor fee is 2% plus VAT, the offer was around 10% of the normal). Def2 is only renting a cottage, but they have done serious renovations to it. Pl is demanding a full fee. Def2 argues that they only are now only renting the cottage and should not pay the fee for buying. Def1 argues that they never hired pl but just accompanied their children. The defendants argue that the cottages were in their proximity, so they did not need to have them shown, but just have an agent negotiate a good price, at which pl did not succeed. Def1 is paying the contractor’s agent, who helped with negotiations.       

 

Ruling: The basis for an obligation to pay for agents’ services without an explicit agreement is the Shut HaRashba (IV:125) regarding someone who worked to bring customers to a store and the idea of working in one’s field with permission, in which the landowner has to pay for the benefit provided.

According to the Law of Agents, payment is due only when the customer signed a contract. We accept this law in cases where the customer was unaware that he was expected to pay, but here the defendants were aware that they were employing professional agents, and they even volunteered to pay (a smaller amount). The fact that pl did not finish the job does not preclude deserving partial pay. We see this concept of partial payment in the Shev Yaakov (13) regarding one who raised a shiduch idea and another brought it to fruition and the Rama (Choshen Mishpat 185:6, based on the Shut Harosh), regarding a real estate agent who could not finish the deal. Rav Shlomo Kluger (ad loc.) limits the payment to agent 1 when he also is paying agent 2 to a case in which the payment to agent 2 was done ingeniously. Not only does it make a lot of halachic sense to not accept Rav Kluger’s limiting of the Rama, but in this case, the fact that def1 and def2 abandoned pl’s services in the middle makes it appear disingenuous.

The defendants have no proof that the first attempt to buy the cottages ran its course and that they “started again from the beginning.” Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe CM I, 49) dismisses the claim that the passage of a significant amount of time is proof of a new deal or that the fact that they saw advertisements elsewhere is significant when they first saw it through an agent. Likewise, def1’s claim that they saw the cottage just to help their children is also hard to substantiate from the fact that they were also in the market and ended up buying it.

Because pl did not finish the deal, she should receive only half of the usual fee, from def right away and from def2 when they finalize their purchase.     

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Dedication

We daven for a complete and speedy refuah for:

 

Nir Rephael ben Rachel Bracha
Refael Yitchak ben Chana

Netanel Ilan ben Sheina Tzipora

Netanel ben Sarah Zehava

Meira bat Esther

Yair Menachem ben Yehudit Chana

Rivka Reena bat Gruna Natna

Lillian bat Fortune

Yafa bat Rachel Yente

Eliezer Yosef ben Chana Liba

Ro'i Moshe Elchanan ben Gina Devra

Esther Michal bat Gitel

Yehudit Sarah bat Rachel

 

Together with all cholei Yisrael

 

Hemdat Yamim is dedicated

to the memory of:

those who fell in wars

for our homeland

 

Eretz Hemdah's beloved friends

and Members of

Eretz Hemdah's Amutah

 

Rav Shlomo Merzel z”l
Iyar 10 5771

 

Rav Reuven Aberman z"l

Tishrei 9   5776

 

Mr. Shmuel Shemesh  z"l
Sivan 17 5774

 

R' Eliyahu Carmel z"l

Rav Carmel's father

Iyar 8   5776

 

Mrs. Sara Wengrowsky

bat R’ Moshe Zev a”h.

Tamuz 10      5774

 

Rav Asher Wasserteil z"l

Kislev 9  5769

 

R'  Meir ben

Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld z"l

&

Mrs. Sara Brachfeld z"l

Tevet 16 5780

 

 

R'  Yaakov ben Abraham & Aisha

and

Chana bat Yaish & Simcha

Sebbag, z"l

 

Rav Yisrael Rozen z"l
Cheshvan 13 5778

 

Rav Benzion Grossman z"l
Tamuz 23  5777

 

Rav Moshe Zvi (Milton)

Polin z"l

Tamuz 19    5778

 

R' Abraham Klein z"l

Iyar 18 5779

 

 Mrs. Rina Bat Yaakov Pushett a"h.

Her smile and warmth are sorely missed.  


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Yamim
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of Chicago, Illinois
in loving memory of
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