You loved how enthusiastic your real estate agent seemed the first meeting as he toured the home you wanted to put up for sale. His personality melded with yours. You listed with him.
Now, two months later, he’s only contacted you twice since he put the home on the MLS, and there haven’t been any showings or open houses. The photos online look horrible, and when you try to call him, he never returns the calls. You are wondering whether you should get a new agent and fire this one.
Here are the right steps to take if you feel you aren’t getting the service you deserve and ways to find a new agent:
Reasons people fire their real estate agents
“Like many relationships, the biggest issues with real estate agents can be traced back to miscommunication,” said Sumant Sridharan, COO at HomeLight.
HomeLight is a web platform that matches buyers and sellers with real estate agents that have experience with the particular style of home, area or price range the consumer is looking for or is trying to sell.
For example, if your real estate agent isn’t communicating updates, if they’re ignoring your requests and not making time to meet or speak with you, or if potential buyers keep backing out and you have no understanding of why, then it’s time to start looking at other options.
Additionally, an excellent agent should be able to provide a detailed comparative market analysis which instills confidence that they understand the local market and how to reach potential buyers, he said.
Other signs of a bad realtor
Sridharan says an early sign of a poor agent is that they don’t ask the right questions. If you’re a seller, the agent should know your home inside and out.
For both buyers and sellers, the agent should know exactly what you’re looking to get out of the transaction, what you’re willing to negotiate on and the timeframe you’re working within. If your agent is not sitting down with you right off-the-bat to gather this information, you should speak up and level-set expectations.
“It’s also incredibly important to have someone who’s completely committed to their craft – not someone who has a different day job,” he adds. “Your home deserves someone who is engaged and available at all times.”
If your agent applies unnecessary pressure toward you during the process, head for the door.
Ways to resolve things before firing them
Have a conversation with the agent about the issues at hand and express your concerns about progress. Thank the agent for all of his/her time and effort, but lay out your expectations and make it clear that if they aren’t met, you’ll have to move on.
“The longer a house sits on the market, the less desirable it can become to potential buyers, so even though these conversations can be difficult, they’re crucial – especially for home sellers,” Sridharan explains.
Contracts and getting out of them
Many buyer’s agents will request a bilateral agreement with the buyer, he says. If you decide to enter into this type of agreement, ensure it has a non-exclusivity inclusion which allows you to work with buyer’s agents in different areas.
It is also a good idea to specify well-defined areas that you are asking your agent to cover. Lastly, include a clause that allows you to exit the agreement at any time.
Even before drawing up the contract, both parties should sit down and discuss terms. If a realtor breached the real estate contract, just exit the contract.
Early termination fees
If you choose to terminate a contract with a real estate agent prematurely, you may be subject to a termination fee, he adds.
“Always review agent contracts prior to engagement and request that these types of fees are excluded.”
Steps to firing your real estate agent
- Step 1: Thank your agent for everything he/she has done, but say that things aren’t moving along and it’s time to part ways, Sridharan says.
- Step 2: Hear the agent out if they try to convince you to stay. However, if you’ve made up your mind, stay firm yet polite. There’s no need to let emotions get the best of you, especially if you met your agent through a friend or family member.
- Step 3: Ask to end the listing agreement. If you’ve signed an Exclusive-Right-to-Sell Agreement, proceed to Step 4. If not, skip to Step 6.
- Step 4: If you’ve signed an Exclusive-Right-to-Sell agreement, does it include a safety clause? This clause guarantees the agent receives a commission upon the sale, even if the contract has been terminated. If this is the case, proceed to the next step. If not, skip to Step 6.
- Step 5: Contact a real estate lawyer. Sometimes just bringing up a lawyer will be enough to get the agent to break the contract.
- Step 6: Does your agent accept the cancellation of the listing? If so, skip to Step 9. If not, proceed to Step 7.
- Step 7: If the real estate agent still refuses to cancel, call their broker. If the broker accepts the termination, skip to Step 9. If not, proceed to Step 8.
- Step 8: If the broker refuses to accept, you may want to request another agent at the firm, or go back to Step 5.
- Step 9: Once everyone agrees that it’s time to part ways, put the dissolution of your relationship in writing and include the date of termination.
Finding a better real estate agent
“In order to make sure you’re not trading one poor agent for another, start by doing your own research and think about what you really want from the process,” Sridharan says. “Communication goes both ways. So, in order for an agent to understand what you want, you need to know what that is and be able to articulate it.”
Make sure to think about your own priorities – do you want to sell for top dollar? Sell as fast as possible?
Once you understand what you want, start doing research on local agents. A service like HomeLight connects home buyers and sellers with the best possible real estate agent in their area using real performance data, he says.
Especially if you’ve had an unpleasant experience with an agent, you quickly understand that just because they were great for your friend or family member, it doesn’t mean they’ll be a great fit for you. The neighborhood, type of property and price point could have been totally different, it’s important to look at hard data for such an emotional and significant financial process.
Make sure you interview at least two or three agents and request a listing presentation from each.