Like any relationship, the one between a home seller and their real estate agent doesn’t always have a happy ending. So what do you do when you decide your agent isn’t the one to sell your house?
First, ask yourself some tough questions about why you’re unhappy with your agent. Are you not getting offers because your agent isn’t marketing your home well, or are you refusing to adjust its price? Is the agent not working hard enough, or is it your home’s condition that isn’t up to par?
Selling a home is an emotional process. It’s hard not to take it personally when your home seems to be rejected or ignored by buyers. Often, it’s easier to blame the agent than accept that your house isn’t as desirable as you thought. Are you unhappy with the agent because they aren’t doing a good job, or because they’re telling you something you don’t want to hear?
As in any relationship, it’s best to try to salvage it with communication. Talk to your agent and express your frustration. Listen to their advice with an open mind. If they are telling you things you can do to improve the chances of selling your home, listen. You hired this agent because of their expertise, so take advantage of it.
Of course, sometimes it just isn’t meant to be. If you and your agent just don’t get along or you believe they aren’t doing good work on your behalf, it may be time to part ways.
You signed a listing agreement with agent’s brokerage which obligates you to work only with that agent for a designated length of time. In most cases, you’ll need to write a request to the agent stating that you want to terminate the listing, along with a revised termination date. A fair and honest agent will understand and agree to release you from the agreement ahead of schedule.
Of course, they may try to talk you out of it or suggest someone else in their office because they’ve probably already put time and effort into the listing. But if you want to make a complete break, they’ll usually agree to the request.
It may not be a clean break-up, however. You may have signed a “protection clause” which means that if your house subsequently sells due to the previous efforts of the agent, that agent is still entitled to a commission. In other words, if the buyer saw the agent’s yard sign or attended his or her open house, and later makes an offer, even after the termination date, you’ll still have to pay their commission — on top of any other commissions you may owe on a subsequent contract.
A protection clause isn’t a bad sign when hiring an agent. There are bad sellers who abuse the system and a protection clause protects good agents from them. Agents invest time and money to market a house and they need to protect that investment. But don’t sign a listing contract with an excessively long protection period. Most run 60 to 90 days. Also make sure you read your listing contract’s conflict resolution wording. Most call for binding arbitration, which means you can’t sue or go to court.
The relationship is also a two-way street, in that the agent can break up with you. If you refuse to show your home or you stick with an unreasonably high listing price, your agent can terminate the agreement.
In the end, if you can salvage the relationship with your agent, it’s probably in your best interest. But if you just can’t work together, you can part ways.