How to Fire A Real Estate Agent
When you decide to sell your house, choosing the right Realtor is one of the most important parts of the process. You need someone you can depend on, someone you get along with and someone that will help you achieve your sales goals. But even when you do your best to find the right real estate agent, you can still wind up with someone you are unsatisfied with. Whatever the reason, you may find that you want to fire your Realtor. So, how do you do it?
Over the last couple months, I have had more people ask me how to fire a real estate agent than in the last few years. There is obviously quite a bit of dissatisfaction out there from folks trying to sell their home.
Did you make the mistake of taking the advice of your friend and hired “Mabel” the sweet old lady that should have retired ten years ago? Maybe it was fast taking Freddie that got your ear and convinced you to sign on the dotted line? It could be everyone’s favorite “average” Ann. Whatever the case it’s clear you want no part of either of this kind of agents anymore.
What you first need to understand is that firing a real estate agent is not as easy as you think! In most circumstances, you cannot just call your real estate agent and tell them you are choosing to use someone else. It doesn’t work that way if you have signed a legal and binding contract.
Most real estate listing contracts are in fact binding. This means the agent will have to agree to let you out of the contract.
Firing A Real Estate Agent Is Not Like Firing An Employee
If you were to hire the neighbor’s kids to mow your lawn every week, you know you always have the option of terminating the agreement if you are unsatisfied. If they don’t show up, run over your flowers or chop up your sprinkler heads, you can just tell them not to come back. There might be hard feelings, but there are no financial consequences.
With a real estate agent, you face a more challenging situation. When you hire an agent, you sign a contract that binds you to the Realtor. You and the real estate agent agree to absolute terms, terms which often include a guarantee that you will use the Realtor exclusively to sell your home.
If you are very lucky, you may have signed a contract that allows your to extricate yourself from the contract if you are not satisfied. Most contracts, however, do not work this way and for you to fire your Realtor they need to let you out of the contract.
When you decide that you do not like your Realtor any longer, you cannot run him or her off like the kids. You have to try and part ways amicably, possibly honor your contract and do your best to avoid excessive financial costs.
What most homeowners fail to understand when hiring a real estate agent is there are vast skill differences in agents that work for sellers vs for buyers. An agent that does the majority of their with sellers has a far different skill set than an agent that does most of their work with buyers. Most consumers just assume that all agents just both of these things well. That is certainly not the case.
Reasons To Fire Your Realtor
There are great Realtors, and there are terrible Realtors and many, many Realtors in between. Every time you hire a new agent that you are unfamiliar with, there is a chance that he or she will prove a disappointment and that you will wish to get a different agent. I have coined the phrase “post and pray Realtor” which best describes this kind of agent. They put a sign in the yard, put it in MLS and pray. In other words, they don’t do much at all to sell your home but the bare minimum.
Some of the most common problems with real estate agents include:
Lack of Communication
This ranks by far as the most common reason for dissatisfaction. Effective communication is one of the backbones of any healthy relationship! For you, the sale of your home is one of the most important things in going on in your life. It is something that you cannot stop thinking about, and a situation where you want to be constantly in the loop about what is happening. When you have a showing, you want to know what the buyer thought. What did they like? What did they dislike? Did they think my home was priced appropriately?
These are the kinds of questions a good listing agent will ask the buyers agent through some feedback system. I good listing agent understands the importance of feedback to their seller clients.
Unfortunately, for some agents, your home sale is not that important. They may have many other homes they are selling, or they may not be particularly concerned if your home sells. They may just be bad communicators and have trouble understanding the perspective of their clients. Whatever the reason, they do not communicate.
This funny video below from RE/MAX is the perfect illustration of the behavior of some agents. While this will give you a good laugh it illustrates perfectly how some real estate agents are when it comes to communication or lack thereof!
Lack of Ability
You may discover after a month of trying to sell your home that your Realtor is incompetent. He or she may not understand how to market a home properly, may be bad at negotiations or you may have discovered they don’t know how to price a home properly. In fact, you may have figured out that the agent has purposely given you an inflated value just to get you to sign a listing contract with them. Why? Over time they feel like they will beat you over the head enough times for a price reduction that your home will eventually sell. This was their strategy all along you just didn’t know it.
Many real estate agents will also take an overpriced listing just for the chance to get buyer calls in which they can spin to other properties. Every listing has the potential to generate business for an agent.
Lack of Marketing
When you first sat down and listed your home with a real estate agent, you might not have given it much thought. You may have just trusted that the agent would do a good job. After months have gone by without any luck you have decided to do a little research. What you discover blows you away.
Lack of Compatibility
Your dissatisfaction may just come down to incompatibility. You may discover that you don’t like the agent and that this fact is unlikely to change. You would rather take the financial hit of breaking the contract than have to deal with this person a second more. All of the above are signs you hired a bad real estate agent. It is now your job to figure out if you want to go through with firing them. Maybe you’re not sure if what their actions warrant them being fired? Here are some things you should not put up with!
More Good Reasons to Fire Your Real Estate Agent
Obviously, every circumstance warrants careful consideration, but none of these things are worthy of a true professional. These are all good reasons to get rid of a Realtor.
The Risks Of Firing Your Real Estate Agent
There are several risks to firing your agent which you should be aware of. This includes:
If your agent has spent a lot of money and time marketing your property or is just the type of person to raise a stink, you could run into some drama in the firing process. How much tension will depend on the situation, your legal obligations, how close you are to the agent and his or her personality. There are a lot of real estate agents that don’t know when it is better just to keep their mouths shut and move on. There are a lot of “drama queens” in real estate, and some of them are men.
If you signed a listing agreement that included termination fees, you would be legally bound to pay these fees. Termination fees can vary quite a bit so make sure you understand what you have agreed to. Read over the contract again thoroughly. If you have yet to hire an agent, it is worth considering the idea of only signing a listing agreement that is absent of termination fees.
Keep in mind too that many listing agreements will include a protection period for the agent. The term of protection is the time in which you will owe the agent a commission if you sell your home to someone who has seen the property while it was listed for sale with the agent.
These clauses are fair as they help to deter a homeowner from making a side deal with a buyer. You can’t tell a customer that you are going to fire your agent and come to back in a few weeks thereby saving yourself a commission.
If you do sell the house on your own during the protection period, you could be legally obligated to pay the agent’s commission from the sale.
Options For Firing Your Agent
Try to work it out
Fortunately for me over the twenty-nine years working in the business, I have had very few people who have desired to fire me as their real estate agent. If there were anyone who was not happy, however, I would want a second chance to make things right. You should not just blindside an agent by telling them you wish to fire them. Instead, it would be more prudent to explain that you are unhappy, and if there are not some serious changes made, you would like to cancel the contract.
Sometimes an agent might not even be aware you are not pleased with what’s going on. Give the agent the courtesy of making things right. If after giving them a chance to correct their deficiencies they do not make things right, then it may be time for a change. Be prepared, however, as this may be a place where you hit a road block.
One thing to consider as well is whether or not you are reasonable. Did you insist that the agent lists the home at “your price” and not theirs? Are you making showings hard to schedule? There are times when homeowners think they know more than the professionals do. Make sure you look in the mirror before finally deciding that you want to fire your Realtor. If you have not made their job easy, then you are partial to blame.
Maybe this isn’t the case at all? If so just be prepared to have a fight on your hands. Lots of agents do not think objectively.
What I have found over the years is that many real estate agents don’t make wise decisions when it comes to a clients desire to terminate a relationship. You are at the point where you want to fire your real estate agent and have discussed this with them – They, however, are refusing to cooperate. What should you do?
Make an appointment with their broker
If you have tried speaking with your agent about an amicable release from your real estate contract and they refuse here is what I would do. Go speak to the owner or manager of their company.
Explain the reason for your displeasure in detail. Don’t just go in and say you want to change to another Realtor because your home hasn’t sold. Give them concrete examples of why you feel the relationship in not working out.
What you may find is the owner or manager suggesting that you work with another agent in their firm. If you have already spoken with another agent who you really like in another company, you need to make it clear you do not want to work with anyone in their company.
It should be explicit that your desire to terminate is not just with the agent but with the entire company. Most owners are going to try to salvage your relationship if possible.
Don’t be surprised if you meet up with an owner who is as stubborn as your agent. As I have previously mentioned, there are some in this industry who really don’t make smart decisions. If I had someone who did not want to work with me would I hold their feet to the fire – absolutely not! There is more harm that can come out of doing so.
At this point what you need to delicately explain to the owner is that you have a lot of family and friends in the area. Make it clear to the owner that would hate to have to resort to speaking unkindly about their firm. If this doesn’t get their attention then you are probably fighting an uphill battle. Most intelligent human beings would make a smart business decision at this point.
Why would you hold someone in a contract where they are clearly unhappy? It does not make any sense. There are times where logic is not part of a real estate agents thought process.
Letting The Contract Expire
If you are close to the end of the contract, you can just let it expire. At this point you will be free to hire another Realtor of your choosing. This is a low-drama option that many sellers choose. Most protection periods are terminated as well when you sign a new listing contract with another agent.
Breaching The Contract
The most contentious option, you can breach the contract if you have to. It is best to only choose this option if the broker is really failing in his or her duties, as a breach of contract can lead to a lawsuit. I am of the opinion that this is never a smart move. You could end up paying two commissions instead of one!