By now, you may have heard about former ‘N Sync member Lance Bass’ attempted purchase of the iconic “Brady Bunch” house located in North Hollywood, California. The home, which was listed for sale on July 18 for the original list price of $1,885,000, immediately garnered interest and national headlines as it purports to be the second-most photographed home in the United States.
Bass, who submitted an offer he called “WAY over the asking price,” was informed by the listing agent that he had made the winning bid. However, the day after he received the good news he was informed that, due to “unforeseen circumstances,” the home would be sold to another buyer who possess “unlimited resources.” That buyer was later revealed to be Discovery, Inc., owner of the cable network HGTV.
Bass was shocked by this turn of events and publicly questioned “How is this fair or legal??” On Instagram, Bass stated that he felt “used…hurt and saddened by this highly questionable outcome.”
Although this transaction took place in California, there are lessons that Arizona REALTORS® can take away from this shady Brady dispute.
The Arizona Statute of Frauds, A.R.S. § 44-101(6), states that a contract for the sale of real property must be in writing and signed by the party to be charged to be enforceable. While verbal acceptance may be binding in other types of transactions, verbal acceptance of an offer to purchase Arizona real estate does not create an enforceable contract.
Had the facts of Bass’ attempted purchase of the Brady Bunch house occurred in Arizona, no valid contract would exist.
Even though the listing agent informed Bass that he was the winning bidder, written acceptance of Bass’ offer was never conveyed. While it may be deemed unfair, until such time as the parties enter into a fully executed written contract, an Arizona seller would have the legal right to accept a subsequent offer.
Another issue to be considered is whether the listing agent should have continued to present purchase offers to the seller even after informing Bass that he was the winning bidder. In regard to Arizona REALTORS®, the answer to this question is a resounding “yes.”
Article 1 of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, Standard of Practice 1-7, states in part: When acting as listing brokers, REALTORS®, shall continue to submit to the seller/landlord all offers and counter-offers until closing or execution of a lease unless the seller/landlord has waived this obligation in writing. This same obligation is imposed by A.A.C. R4-28-802(B).
Furthermore, both under the REALTOR® Code of Ethics and the Arizona Administrative Code, a listing agent owes a fiduciary duty to their seller, which includes protecting and promoting the client’s interests. It was therefore incumbent upon the listing agent to help ensure that the seller had the opportunity to proceed with the highest and most qualified buyer.
Could Bass’ expectations have been better managed? Absolutely. Based on the call he received from the listing agent, Bass concluded that his purchase of the Brady Bunch house was a certainty. However, nothing is guaranteed until written acceptance of the purchase offer is conveyed. And even then, contracts are full of contingencies that can derail a successful close of escrow.
On the Brady Bunch, with the help of parents Mike and Carol Brady, all of life’s problems were easily solved in thirty minutes. But as Lance Bass will likely acknowledge, real estate is not that simple.
Lance Bass ‘heartbroken’ He Didn’t get ‘Brady Bunch’ House – CNN (Aug. 6, 2018)
Lance Bass Approached by HGTV About a Project at the ‘Brady Bunch’ House – ET (Aug. 9, 2018)