How to Break Up With a Real Estate Agent

how to break up with a real estate agent

Buying or selling a home rarely can take months, sometimes even longer. Along the way, you may find that your relationship with your real estate agent just isn’t working anymore. Here’s how to break up with a real estate agent, whether you’re a buyer or seller.

Buyers: Here’s how to break up with a real estate agent

Typically, as a buyer, you won’t be asked to enter into a contractual or financial agreement with a real estate agent. That’s because real estate agents earn their commissions from sellers, and the money is split between the sellers’ and buyers’ agents.

Instead, a buyer makes a (sometimes non-verbal) handshake agreement with a real estate agent. You’re agreeing to exclusively rely upon that agent. And that’s fair. Agents often work hard and spend a lot of time engaging with buyers, watching the market, writing contracts, showing properties, reviewing disclosures, and so on.

Before you do a handshake deal, though, do your homework. Ask friends for references, and check out online agent reviews.

Going to open houses is a good way to meet and interview agents who work where you want to buy. Don’t jump in with the first agent you meet. Like any relationship, start slow and feel it out. It’s harder to break up with your agent if you have too deeply engaged.

If you’re not ready to commit, don’t engage an agent until you are ready. Early on, a good real estate agent should read your situation well and provide the appropriate amount of attention as needed. They’ll act as a resource, and be available when you need them. Once the search kicks into high gear, agents and buyers will spend lots of time together and communicate 24×7.

If you find that a relationship is not working, be honest and upfront before more time passes. Offer the agent constructive feedback about why it’s not working for you.

Sellers: How to break up with your agent

Since the seller pays the real estate agent’s commission, the brokerage requires the seller to sign a listing agreement upfront. During the listing period, you’re contractually obligated to work exclusively with the agent and brokerage firm, specifically on the sale of your home.

In fact, even if you find a buyer on your own (such as a friend), the listing agent/brokerage firm is still due their commission.

Just as a buyer must do his homework, it’s even more important for a seller to do her research, given the commitment. Most listing agreements state that if the listing agent brings an offer at the listing price and the seller doesn’t accept it, the agent is still due a commission. This scenario happens sometimes when the listing agent and seller aren’t getting along.

In most situations, if the listing agent isn’t doing a good job but there’s still time left on the agreement, you should simply tell the agent it’s not working out. A good, fair and honest agent will apologize for not meeting your expectations and will agree to release you from the agreement ahead of schedule. But that’s not always the case, and sellers typically respond by no longer agreeing to open houses or considering offers from the agent.

Sometimes, an agent wants to break up with the seller. Maybe the seller insists on keeping the price of the home too high or isn’t cooperating to accommodate showings. The agent simply feels she can’t be successful with the seller, no matter how much time she puts into the job.

If you’re a seller whose agent wants out of the agreement because you aren’t taking the necessary steps to sell your home, let them go — and give serious consideration as to whether you’re really ready to sell or not.

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