Posted by: Robin Gronsky | February 21, 2013

Can An Unhappy Home Seller Switch Listing Agents?

Typical sellers do not do a lot of research about the real estate agent who will list their home for sale.  They usually go with a name they have seen around town or a recommendation from a friend.  They do even less research before they sign the listing agreement which details what the commission you will pay will be, how long the agreement lasts, and whether you can cancel the agreement before it expires.

The terms of your listing agreement will define what you can and cannot do if you are an unhappy home seller.  All contracts are negotiable including the listing agreement.  Therefore, it is in your best interest to read the listing agreement, consult with a real estate attorney about its terms, and negotiate the clauses that are not favorable to you.  At the very least, you should negotiate a short timeframe for the listing (maybe 3 months).  You should have some language in the agreement to allow you to terminate the agreement if you are unhappy or if the listing agent does certain things or does not do certain things that you think the agent should do.

There are plenty of reasons that you may be unhappy with how the sale of your home is going (or really how it is not going).  You may think that the listing agent is not doing enough to market your property, maybe the agent did not hold a broker open house, or maybe you do not get any feedback after a prospective buyer comes through your house and does not put in an offer.

If you are unhappy with your listing agent, talk to her/him.  Maybe the fault in on your side (you are making it difficult to have the house available for prospective buyers to come at times that are convenient to them or you disagree with your agent about how to best showcase your home).  Maybe the fault is with the agent – you don’t see enough being done to get market your house or she/he is not responding to your questions.  If you can get the agent to make the changes that you want or if you understand what the agent (who is supposedly the expert that you chose) needs from you so you change your behavior, you may not want to switch listing agents.  But, what if you cannot come to an agreement about changes?

Ask the agent if you can terminate the listing agreement before it expires.  Many agents do not want to work with unhappy sellers and will allow you to terminate.  If you cannot cancel the listing agreement, you can try to shorten the termination date of the agreement or get some understanding between you as to some changes that one or both of you will make.  Do not just stew over your unhappiness, express your dissatisfaction politely and explore whether both sides can come to a new agreement.

If you do change listing agents, make sure you understand if there are any obligations to the listing agent that you have fired.  Do you have to wait a number of days before you can re-list the house, do you have to pay the old listing agent if the buyer is someone who saw the house while the previous listing agreement was in effect or are there any financial penalties you need to be aware of?  Read your listing agreement and get any changes in writing.  If you are not sure what to do, consult with a real estate attorney to go over your rights and responsibilities under the listing agreement.


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