How to Fire Your Real Estate Agent

firing your real estate agent | photographer: mohamed mahmoud hassan

Even the most charismatic and experienced real estate agent cannot get along with everyone. Sometimes an agent makes a mistake, other times buyers and sellers go in a different direction. Often times, buyers and sellers simply feel that their agent is not a good fit. Whatever the reason, firing your real estate agent is something that should be done with care.

Chances are, if you are reading this article, you are thinking about going in another direction without your agent. That happens, and in most cases is not a big deal. With a little bit of compassion and common sense, it is generally easy to part with an agent.

Reasons to Fire Your Real Estate Agent

Admittedly, on some occasions it is in a buyer’s or seller’s best interest to terminate their contract with an agent. Perhaps the most common reason is that their agent has made a crucial mistake. In such cases, an agent will likely understand your reasoning.

Another common reason to fire your real estate agent is when they have made it clear they are not familiar with the geographic area or asset class you are searching in. If you have been looking in Town A, and want to expand your search to Town B, your agent may not be able to help you in the latter. Or, if you are looking for a condo and your agent is only familiar with single-families, it may be best to get another one.

Then there are times when an agent simply does not feel like the right fit to you. Maybe you think they are not accommodating your needs. Or maybe, they are acting in an unprofessional manner. Whatever your reason, if your gut is telling you to move on, do not be afraid to do so.

Reasons Not to Fire Your Real Estate Agent

Every year, my team gets calls from homeowners, buyers and even a few renters, that are frustrated with their current real estate agent. In reality, most disputes end amicably, and a simple night’s rest tends to clear the air. Remember, an agent is looking out for your interests: They are there to help you.

Consider Alternatives

My team often works with buyers or sellers in the city we live in, and the surrounding cities and towns that it shares a border with. That puts our working range at about a five-mile radius. Note, we are near a city, so topography and demographics change every few blocks.

Sometimes agents from other areas try to service our city, but find they do not know enough about the area to serve their client’s best interests. In which case, they might refer their clients to us. From time to time, we do the same with our clients in other areas, or simply advise them to find their own agent. On occasion, if a buyer is looking in two different municipalities, we choose to work with them in our target areas, while another agent helps them in that agent’s neck of the woods. Most agents are more than happy to work with each other.

On occasion, a buyer or seller will ask to terminate their relationship with their agent because they feel that said agent is not working hard enough for them. More often than not, this occurs with buyers after losing out on a home in a multiple offers’ situation. In such cases, a buyer may feel that their agent did not do enough to secure them the home.

In reality, even the most skilled agents cannot make up for a low offer, or one with bad terms. Sellers generally accept the highest and best offer. While a competent agent may (and should) talk your offer up, to the best of their ability, when discussing it with a listing agent, most of the time they cannot make up for a lower offer price. As the saying goes, money talks. On the other hand, if an agent gave you poor advise when making your offer, then it may be best to part ways.

How to Fire Your Real Estate Agent

If you are getting ready to fire your real estate agent, there are two important things to remember. The first, make sure you understand the legal ramifications of doing so. Second, be clear with your agent so there are no misunderstandings.

Terminate Your contract

An important aspect of any real estate consumer relationship is the purchase or listing contract. Such contracts are usually presented at the first meeting between buyer and seller, and their agent. A contract generally binds the buyer, seller or renter to work with such agent. It is imperative that if you wish to stop using your agent, you have the contract terminated.

Make Your Intentions Clear

Agents dislike when clients ghost them. Most agents are quite persistent, so if you do not inform them that you no longer want to work with them, they will keep pestering you with emails, texts, calls etc. It is in everybody’s best interest if you simply tell your agent you no longer want to work with them.

If you wish to terminate the contract, make that clear: A quick email generally does the job. If you feel you want to have a more meaningful conversation, give them a call. Keep in mind, if you do call your agent, they may try to convince you to keep the relationship alive.

Buyers and renters, your former agent may be able to collect a commission if you choose to buy a home that they showed you; or even one they did not. Terminating a contract is not always as simple as asking to get out of it. A call to the local Realtor board and a legal professional would be the first step if you think this may be the case.

Moving on – How to Find an Agent That Will Fulfill Your Goals

If you are looking to hire a new real estate agent, I’ve wrote an article on the process. My best advice is to start local! If you are looking for an agent in Town A, attend some open houses in said town and interact with the agents at them.

There are a few reasons to consider using an agent you meet at an open house. First of all, they convinced a seller to give them their listing, or they persuaded an agent to let them host an open house at their listing. Either way, that speaks volumes. Second, you can have a face to face no-obligation conversation with them. Chances are, if you like an agent in person, you will get along with them when looking to buy or sell a home.

Otherwise, start with direct brokerage sites, like that of your local Coldwell Banker or Sotheby’s franchise. Contacting the managing broker for a few agent recommendations would be a good idea too. Although, keep in mind, they will not necessarily give you to the most experienced agents. Which agents a manager’s referral goes to is often political. Also, a managing broker may work as an agent themselves. So be aware, they may try to work with you directly.

If you have been through a few agents, think about what could be causing the rifts. An agent is not god, and cannot make up for an unrealistic budget, impossible to find home, or obscure desire. The bottom line is this: Agents are human. If you treat them as such, you will increase your chances of a successful real estate transaction.

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