Top 10 Reasons Sellers Fire a Real Estate Agent

When Listing Agents Do Not Meet Expectations

business woman holding sign that says you're fired
••• ideabug/E+/Getty Images

No reputable real estate agent I know wants to cancel a listing just so she can expend time, trouble and effort to take a new listing, yet some sellers will fire a real estate agent just to hire another agent like the first one. That's not to say there aren't real estate agents who give up on listings because there are, although it's not the smartest thing for an agent to do. They may as well just figure out how to sell the listing they have before they go looking for another to replace it, but some get easily distracted by bright, shiny objects.

Sellers sometimes fire a perfectly good agent for all the wrong reasons. I see it all the time when I am called in to be the second or third agent. I might look at the previous agent's pricing and marketing, and consider the condition of the home, and find nothing to criticize about any of it. Of course, if I tell the seller that she should not have fired her previous agent, the seller might rehire that agent, so I see no reason to talk myself out a listing. The fact is I will make money on those types of listings based on another agent's effort, and sellers are paying me for work another agent performed.

If your agent is doing a good job, you should hang on to your agent and not penalize your agent because your house has not yet sold. Patience, grasshopper. Sometimes, though, sellers have a very good reason to terminate the relationship with their agent. Here are a few of the common reasons I hear:

Top 10 Reasons to Fire Your Real Estate Agent

#1: Lacks communication skills.  Agents are bombarded by all types of contact requests, through phone calls, text messages and emails, but that's no excuse to ignore those mediums of communication. If an agent can't answer her phone, she may as well throw it into a lake. Sellers have a right to receive updates about their listings and don't want to be kept wondering. If nothing is happening and there are no showings, an agent should report that activity.

#2: Did not find a buyer. Sellers want to know what their agent is doing to find a buyer. Sticking a sign in the yard and hoping for drive-by traffic is ineffective in most communities. Sometimes, it takes networking among agents to sell a home or specifically searching for a buyer in places where other buyers hang out, which is primarily online.

#3: Bad photographs in MLS. It's peculiar how many sellers never look at their listings online or are afraid to ask an agent to fix a photo. No listing should contain photographs of dark rooms or of a bathroom with the toilet seat up, or my favorite: sideways.

#4: Poor marketing efforts. Not every home is suitable for an open house, and open houses are a small part of any marketing plan, so don't push your agent for an open house. But agents should offer other ways to market than just MLS such as print or radio or video or virtual tours.

#5: Slow to respond to requests. When a seller asks for information or a buyer calls about a home, agents need to be available to respond. If an agent is unavailable, an alternate individual should be on call. People expect instant results and don't want to wait more than an hour or so for a response, much less the next day.

#6: Does not listen to the seller. The world does not resolve around the listing agent, it revolves around the client. If you think an agent is not listening to you, ask the agent to repeat what you just said.

#7: No comprehension of the paperwork. More than ever, sellers need to rely on their agents to explain paperwork to them. There are many government regulated disclosures and local disclosures that sellers are required to give to a buyer, not to mention the difficulty of trying to understand lengthy purchase contracts.

#8: Poorly developed negotiation skills. Sellers might have very strong opinions about the price they will accept, but every single fee in the purchase contract can affect a seller's bottom-line profit. The most successful transactions make both parties feel like each has won.

#9: Unprofessional behavior. Yelling and screaming and using obscenities might work for the Grammy Awards but it is unacceptable in a real estate professional. Regardless of one's emotions, an agent should always treat everyone with respect.

#10: Puts the seller's interests second to own. 'But what does this mean for me?' is the sentiment agents sometimes express when nothing could be further from reality. The seller's interests should always be first and foremost. With the seller's interest in mind, the other 9 reasons might not ever occur in the first place.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, BRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.