Can I FIRE my Realtor?

​Q: I have been with a Realtor for 90 days and he has been very difficult to work with. I can’t get call backs. I can’t get Open House signs or flyers. He has done very little to actually market the house. Though the house is vacant, he did two Open Houses without even informing me. I brought my concerns to him a month ago and he said he would try and do better. He hasn’t, so I asked that he terminate my agreement and let me go to another Realtor. He now wants a commission for leaving early. Is there a remedy to get out of this contract without paying him as he certainly hasn’t done much?
–Chris, Oklahoma City, OK
A: If you’ve tried to work things out with this agent but you’re still not satisfied, you have the right to terminate your agreement. However, you should take into consideration any time, money and effort he has put into marketing your property. His compensation comes from selling your home. Now that you have decided he’s not the right realtor, which is understandable, he is asking to be compensated. That is also understandable and reasonable. You mentioned that he held two open houses which he probably paid to advertise and host, in addition to any other advertisement costs. It’s reasonable for him to request compensation for the time and any reasonable expenses thus far used to market your property. Ask him to provide documentation of expenses if that’s helpful. It’s unfortunate that your businesss relationship did not work out. To move forward I would suggest compensating him for his time and looking more carefully for the right agent. Interview several agents and ask questions about their marketing strategy. Discuss expectations, like how often you’d prefer communication, etc., before making a decision. Make a list of what you’re looking for in an agent and use it during your interview to help you make a good decision. I hope this was helpful. Best of luck to you.
Anne Elizabeth Oliver is a Realtor® with Roy Wheeler Realty Company in Charlottesville, VA.

A: Is he the owner of the brokerage company as well? If not, I would go to the owner of the company or if it is a large company, maybe the branch manager. I would review your list contract as well to make sure you have it written what he was actually supposed to do and provide docum
entation of what he didn’t do, like return your calls, hold open houses, not informing you of the open houses he did have, etc… try to work it out as best as possible. If that fails, that’s why we have courts.
Derek Sankey is a Realtor® with Sankey Real Estate in North Attleboro, MA.

A: First I suggest that you contact his broker and explain the situation, let the broker know you want out of the listing agreement. Also check the listing agreement to see if there is an early termination fee if not then he does not get a commission or any fees especially since you stated he is not marketing the property and you have discussed your dissatisfaction to him previously. Hopefully it was in writing.
Since the property is vacant you want to get this remedy now so the property can be marketed aggressively before winter. Good luck.
Nancy Alert, International Real Estate Specialist
Nancy Alert is a Realtor® with RE/MAX Allegiance in McLean, VA.

A: I’m an agent in Texas so this is coming from my background but I can’t believe it would be much different. If he did not bring you a client that you are in a contract with you don’t owe him anything. You can either put the termination with him in an e-mail, certified letter or there is a legal form and another agent can get it for you that is a termination form. As long as you have a paper trail that he was notified that you are terminating him that should be sufficient. Find another agent and ask him/her to print out the legal termination form if that makes you feel more comfortable. Good Luck!
Natalie Bared is a Realtor® with JB Goodwin Realtors in San Antonio, TX.

A: Yes, you can terminate the contract with your realtor. The terms by which the termination can be made should be spelled out in the contract. If there are no specific contract terms that spell out a penalty for early termination then you are probably not obligated to pay him anything. Most listing agreements however provide for the payment of commission if the seller terminates the agreement early or otherwise blocks or prohibits the sale of the property.
While I don’t have specifics for Oklahoma, California’s “Residential Listing Agreement” Section 4 A (3) provides (and I paraphrase) that:
4. Seller agrees to pay to Broker as compensation for services irrespective of agency relationships), either a percent of the listing price (or if a purchase agreement is entered into, of the purchase price).

A.(3) If, without Broker’s prior written consent, the Property is withdrawn from sale, conveyed, leased, rented, otherwise transferred, or made unmarketable by a voluntary act of Seller during the Listing Period, or any extension.
Since you state that the listing has already lasted 90 days I would think that your realtor would be willing to work something out with you to provide a mutually agreeable termination of the agreement.
Lee Dworshak is a Realtor® with Keller Williams LA Harbor Realty in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA.
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