How and When to Fire Your Real Estate Agent

Say good-bye without risking liability

businessman and woman having serious conversation
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The home purchase and sale process can stress out buyers and sellers, including their agents and brokers. This stress can be caused or amplified when personalities clash or when the real estate transaction does not go as planned. In these instances, how do you get out when there is a contractual agreement in place?

Key Takeaways

  • If you're working with an agent, and they aren't responsive to feedback, you can end the relationship.
  • It's best to ask about cancellation policies before contracting with an agent. 
  • To cancel an agreement, request a termination of buyer agency form. 
  • If you're selling a home, you should also ask the agent or the agent's brokerage to cancel the listing. 
  • If the broker won't release the listing, or you run into other cancellation issues, consider consulting a real estate lawyer.  

When to Fire Your Realtor

The most commonly heard complaint that clients voice about their agents is dissatisfaction with communication. Some say it is the client’s fault for not establishing preferred methods of communication upfront. Others say it is the agent’s responsibility to ask the client what they expect.

It can be irritating to work with an agent who does not promptly respond to voicemails, text messages, or emails. If that happens to you, it might be time to fire the agent and hire someone else. But first, you should tell your agent what you expect and ask whether it is possible for him or her to perform in that manner.

Here are some of the signs that should tell you that it is time to call it quits:

  • Both of you vehemently disagree, are at opposite ends of the spectrum, and believe you will never see eye-to-eye.
  • When you talk about the situation, your voice rises a notch or two in volume.
  • You make unflattering comments about the person every time you talk about them.
  • Irrational thought processes begin to cloud your judgment.
  • You have made repeated requests that the other party has ignored.
  • When the person’s name shows up on your cell phone, you send the call to voicemail.

Why You Should Fire Your Realtor

The best thing you can do for yourself and for others is to end a relationship before it escalates to the point where it's completely unproductive. If you are a client who is unhappy with your agent, your entire home buying or selling experience—which should be a pleasant and happy time for you—will be affected by this negative attitude. You will probably need to fire your agent.

Note

If you are an agent angered by your client, you are wasting time and energy that could be channeled into more profitable ventures. You probably need to fire your client.

How to Fire Your Realtor

How do you actually terminate the relationship with your real estate agent or realtor? The best approach is mutual consent.

Canceling Contractual Agreements

You should not enter into a contract in the first place if the other party will not agree to a release if requested. You can ask about cancellation policies in the event of a dispute before entering into the contract.

Warning

Threatening the other party is rarely a good idea.

You should not tell the agent that they need to cancel the contract or that you will report them or write a nasty online review. Such an approach is unlikely to gain cooperation.

You also should ask your agent to give you a form called the termination of buyer agency. It will cancel oral or written agency agreements.

If you are an agent who wants to cancel the agency agreement, you may want to soften the blow. One approach may be to suggest that your client would be better off working with another agent who could more readily meet their needs. You can refer that client to another agent in exchange for a referral fee.

Canceling Listings

You should also ask the agent to cancel listings, but you should be aware that exclusive right-to-sell listings usually contain a safety or protection clause.

  • If the agent refuses to cancel the listings, you should call the agent’s brokerage and request a cancellation.
  • If the broker refuses, you should consider asking the broker to assign another agent to you. However, most reputable brokers who want to maintain good community relations will cancel a listing if the seller insists.
  • If there are no workable solutions, you should call a real estate lawyer for termination assistance, but before doing so, you should tell the broker of your intentions to do so. Sometimes, giving such notice is enough to secure a release.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I fire my real estate agent before closing?

It's unlikely that you would be able to fire your real estate agent right before closing. The specifics of your situation will depend on your buyer-broker agreement and state law governing real estate contracts. Consult a real estate lawyer for more information.

How do I report an unethical real estate agent?

If your agent is a realtor, you can file an ethics complaint through their local association. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) offers this tool to help you look up a NAR member's local affiliation. You can also file a complaint through your state's real estate commission. This method works for both realtors and real estate agents who are unaffiliated with NAR.