How to Fire Your Realtor

How to Fire Your Realtor cover picture has a black and white picture of a woman closing her eyes. The title is in white letters.

How to Fire Your Realtor:  How to End a Negative Working Relationship with your Realtor®

Making the Decision to Part Ways
Deciding to terminate your business relationship with your real estate agent can be difficult and frustrating. However, there are situations when it becomes necessary to fire your agent due to significant dissatisfaction. Understanding how to professionally navigate this process will make it less stressful for all involved parties.

Initially, most home buyers and sellers have positive expectations when partnering with a real estate professional. Over time though, problems can emerge leading to disillusionment. According to industry surveys, around 85% of homeowners report feeling dissatisfied to some degree with their agent’s service and performance. Additionally, about 9 out of 10 cite poor communication as the primary catalyst for their unhappiness.

When expectations are not met after giving an agent a fair chance, terminating the partnership might be your best recourse. However, impulsively firing an agent without forethought can create more angst. Carefully reviewing your signed agreement and having candid conversations are prudent first steps.

How to Fire Your Realtor:  Top Reasons Homeowners Give for Firing Their Realtor
How to Fire Your Realtor:  Lack of Communication

By far, limited or ineffective communication tops the list for why homeowners discharge their agents. For sellers especially, an unresponsive agent can be incredibly frustrating. Most want frequent progress updates and details from all showings. When an agent seems disinterested in providing feedback, resentment understandably develops.

Additionally, delays in responding to texts, emails or calls erodes confidence. Even if an agent has a large roster of listings, timely communication should still be a priority.

How to Fire Your Realtor:  Incompatibility in Working Styles

Sometimes conflicts arise simply because individual personalities do not mesh well. A homeowner may feel that their agent interacts in ways that seem pushy, indifferent or unreliable. If attempts to improve rapport fail, dissolving the partnership might be the best solution.

Also, sellers may request an agent perform tasks deemed unproductive. Reasonable homeowners will reflect on whether their demands are unrealistic before blaming an agent fully.

How to Fire Your Realtor:  Failure to Fulfill Marketing Duties

Occasionally homeowners discover too late that their agent is not actually implementing promised marketing strategies. For example, only after months pass do they realize no open houses were conducted or that online photographs are inadequate. Such oversights rightfully raise doubts about an agent’s skills and motivation.

How to Fire Your Realtor:  Intentionally Overpricing a Home

Some questionable agents will inflate a home’s value significantly to secure the listing. Then they plan to gradually pressure the seller to reduce their price over time counting on an eventual sale. Understandably, such deceit warrants canceling the contract.

How to Fire Your Realtor:  What Steps Should You Take Before Firing Your Agent?
How to Fire Your Realtor:  First Steps to Take

The first prudent step is reviewing your written buyer broker or listing agreement to understand options for dissolving the partnership. This legal contract specifies the working relationship, duties, commission rate and process for termination.

Next, have a forthright discussion with your agent to voice all concerns. Perhaps they are unaware you are unhappy or feel the working relationship is fine. Give them examples of behaviors contributing to your dissatisfaction along with clear expectations of what needs remediation.

If no positive changes occur after a reasonable time, proceed to their brokerage firm’s owner or office manager. Thoroughly explain remaining issues with agent performance or fit. See if a different agent within the brokerage can be assigned to you. Convey explicitly though if you prefer to completely disassociate from that agency.

How to Fire Your Realtor:  Risks and Realities of Firing Your Real Estate Agent
How to Fire Your Realtor:  Contractual Protection Clauses

When reviewing your buyer or listing contract, pay close attention to any protection clauses. These specify a time frame which you owe the agent commission should they have shown your home to an eventual buyer. This deters a seller from terminating then secretly working with the buyer alone later.

Understand that protection clauses remain valid even when hiring another agent from a different brokerage. So firing your agent does not override your legal duty to pay them a commission if you sell to their buyer prospect within the protection period.

How to Fire Your Realtor:  Possible Lawsuits for Breach of Contract

Rarely an agent may refuse to void your contract upon request. Some even threaten legal action should you breach it by hiring another brokerage. Unless your agent clearly violated major aspects of your contractual agreement, breaching on your own leaves you vulnerable to lawsuits. The costs to defend yourself plus dual commissions could become exorbitant.

How to Fire Your Realtor:  Realtor Board Ethics Complaints

Real estate agents agree to uphold an ethical code of conduct. If your agent engaged in egregious misconduct like lying or fraud, file an official complaint with your state’s realtor association. However, understand that boards focus upon enforcing laws and regulations rather than mediating interpersonal conflicts. So personality clashes or poor communication would not constitute code violations.

How to Fire Your Realtor:  Termination Fees

Lastly, your contract may mandate pre-determined termination fees should you end the working relationship early. These penalties can vary greatly so re-read all fine print about such costs. If included, you must pay the fees which could equal hundreds to thousands of dollars.

How to Fire Your Realtor:  Best Practices for Professionally Firing Your Real Estate Agent
Schedule a Personal Meeting

Ideally, hold an in-person meeting with your agent at their real estate office. This shows appropriate seriousness about dissolving the partnership plus having witnesses promotes good behavior from both parties.

Calmly explain exactly why you are unsatisfied and wish to terminate your working relationship. Provide clear cut examples of issues and failed expectations. Invite them to explain their perspectives on your concerns as well.

Highlight how freely voiding the contract will allow you both to move forward. Convey you understand they need income from sales but that you no longer feel this is the right fit. Offer to provide referrals to family or friends seeking representation if they handle the termination smoothly.

Follow Up the Conversation in Writing

Next, send the agent formal written notice confirming your decision to terminate the buyer or listing contract. Thank them for their time and efforts on your behalf. Express hope that dissolving the partnership amicably will be mutually beneficial over the long run.

Let them know you will allow 1-2 weeks for wrapping up business before transferring to another brokerage. This shows reasonableness and good faith on your part.

What If They Refuse to Terminate?

Meet with the Brokerage Owner
Should your agent resist voiding your legal agreement, schedule an appointment with their brokerage’s owner or office manager directly. Thoroughly explain why you are dissatisfied with performance plus what attempts you already made to remedy problems. Highlight your need for a different agent better suited to meet your needs.

Convey Openness to Another Agent in their Brokerage

If willing to simply switch agents but remain within that brokerage, say so. This allows the owner a conciliatory solution that retains your business for their agency. However, directly state if your preference is to hire an outside agency altogether.

Indicate How Negative Experiences Can Impact Their Reputation
Respectfully remind the owner that your network of family and friends looking to buy or sell homes in the near future is extensive. Point out how your negative experience could dissuade many prospects from utilizing their brokerage. However, facilitating a smooth termination would neutralize potential reputation damage.

How to Fire Your Realtor:  Be Prepared to Let the Contract Expire

If the brokerage owner also refuses to void your buyer or listing contract, simply stop working with your assigned agent. Prevent direct conflicts while allowing the agreed term to expire. This sidesteps messy confrontations or lawsuits. Upon expiration, immediately transfer your business to the agent of your choosing without penalty.

How to Fire Your Realtor:  Final Thoughts

Terminating real estate contracts require delicacy and discretion to avoid escalating tensions. Reflect carefully beforehand on exactly why you are dissatisfied plus steps taken to-date to remedy matters. Seek to dissolve the partnership ethically first before breaching the legal contract yourself. Patience, reasonableness and documenting all interactions will serve you well should disputes arise with agents unwilling to release you.

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About the Author
Rob Johnson
Realtor, St. Petersburg FL