FOR ASIAHOMES REALTORS
from Asiahomes Internet
Kind To Stray Kittens. Holes in the palate
In December 1991, a co-broking agent XXX signed an
agreement with my agency to pay a monthly fee for the
duration of the lease after receipt of the rent from the
Tenant. The money would be given to the Occupant to defray
expenses. Normally, I would want the Owner to sign
this agreement but as the co-broking agency wanted full
control, a trait not uncommon in some realty firms,
insisted on signing the agreement, I agreed to it. It said
it had "sub-leased" the rental property from the
Owner and therefore was the "Owner".
I had difficulty getting prompt payments especially in the
last 6 months of the tenancy. This would usually be a
warning sign of cash flow problems. XXX finally said
that the bona fide Owner had died intestate at near the
expiry of tenancy and therefore I had to wait for payment
after the probate was issued.
This was a new situation to me. I waited four months but
was told to wait. Now, it was nine months after the Owner
had died without leaving a will and XXX became evasive and
not returning phone calls, telling her administrator that
XXX would contact the Occupant direct, that she was
overseas and she was on maternity leave and I should wait
till her leave ended. There was no courtesy of
returning my few calls and messages left at her office. I
did not call her mobile directly as she was on maternity
I told the administrator that there was a written
agreement to pay the fee monthly, but the adminstrator
said that there was no such agreement and she only had a
copy of the tenancy agreement.
Therefore, it was skulduggery, a crafty deception or
trickery, hanky panky, jiggery pokery or slickness,
although she did not say so forthrightly. I could read
that in her mind. Hard luck for my expatriate
client. Too bad for me. I had not bothered to fax a copy
of the management contract as I was already fed up after
having to fax receipts and a statement of accounts earlier
to substantiate the amounts owed. This showed that XXX had
wanted proof of payment or had not kept proper accounting.
To XXX, that meant no written documentation and therefore
no need to bother with me.
I engaged a lawyer to sue XXX for the money and handed the
assistant the documents.
Suddenly XXX contacted me but she would not provide the
name of the Adminstrator of the dead owner's estate and
said she would talk to the expatriate directly.
XXX or her adminstrator had told the lawyer's assistant
that the payment was "under the table" and
confirmed what I thought about skulduggery. As a licensed
agency, I don't want to get caught in such malpractices
and risk getting my real estate licence revoked.
The lawyer's assistant said: "It takes some time for
the probate to be issued. XXX now will contact the
dead man's estate to confirm in writing that the fee will
"How long does it take a probate to be issued?"
I asked the assistant.
"Six months at the earliest."
"It is already nine months since the Owner
died," I said.
"The family members usually takes some time to get a
lawyer in intestate cases and the probate will take more
than six months to be granted."
"The probate might have issued and all proceeds from
the Estate might have been distributed. There will be
nothing left for my company since I did not make any prior
claim." The assistant had not thought of this
Should I wait further? Inaction would cost me dearly and
would be irresponsible. My point was that the probate
could have been granted. XXX had refused to divulge
information on the Owner and therefore my lawyer would
have to do the search and that would cost money.
"The younger generation is many times smarter than
the older generation and we must presume that the probate
had been granted." I told the lawyer's clerk, a most
successful man at the peak of his career.
However, he typified the older generation that would
rather use the personalised approach rather than
email or the internet and other new fangled technologies
like PDAs, ftp, html, xml and the popular sms and sms with
videos. These just overwhelm his brain already burdened
with family responsibilities and heavy workload.
I can't presume that the probate had not been granted
since there was great difficulty in getting information
from XXX. She had avoided giving me the information. Her
agency which was not a start up but neither was it a
branded name and when there was no transparency, this was
already a warning sign of something not being right.
XXX now told me to write to her to request some info on
the probate after she had received a call from the
lawyer's assistant. This would be a delaying tactic as she
had complained about "under the table" payments
to the assistant. Her focus and that of her
administrator were on trying to contact the
expatriate to let him know about the probate delay, a fact
the latter already knew. This was superfluous.
Waiting indefinitely for the probate to be issued means
having to keep track of XXX every month and this is a
hassle. XXX must have got fed up of such calls.
What if XXX's agency goes into bankruptcy and cannot be
found? A larger number of bankruptcies happened in 2001
and therefore I could not presume things would not
To me, as a lay man, a financial claim must be made before
the probate is issued although the lawyer's assistant did
not advise me accordingly. In this case, the agreement was
with XXX and not with the dead man. It was legally
unenforceable on the estate. The assistant would consult
It would be better not to use lawyers as we are realtors
in the same profession. But in such instances, the
expertise of the legal profession would be best and
responsible for an agency managing the interest of the
I told the lawyer's assistant not to wait any longer and
proceed with legal action to recover the monies. This was
a case best handled by the legal profession. There was no
corporate skulduggery unlike the Enron case although XXX
must have thought so since there was "no"
written agreement and that payment by her agency must have
been "under the table" for the past 20
This case illustrates the importance of a written
management contract in real estate. In fact, all real
estate business must be in writing. Without one, the
other party plays you out, as in this case, using
corporate skulduggery innunendos when the chips are
Human behaviour is much more complicated nowadays and the
practising realtor must be knowledgeable about the laws of
real estate but also the laws of intestate as well, if
there are such laws!