To fire your real estate agent, first check your contract’s termination clause. It should explain the terms and conditions for backing out of the agreement.
Before checking, though, ask yourself: Are you sure you want to fire your real estate agent?
You might be able to resolve your issues through an honest conversation. Agents are often willing to let unhappy clients walk away to avoid reputational damage. They may be eager to resolve your concerns and retain your business.
Also, understand that you may be on the hook for a cancellation fee or even your agent’s full commission if you don’t follow the proper legal steps.
If you do end up deciding to fire your real estate agent, our friends at Clever Real Estate can connect you with a great new agent in your area. Clever’s licensed concierge team vets agents based on their past performance and history to help you find an agent who’s great for you.
» CONNECT: Find a Top Local Agent Today
- Terminating a contract early carries legal risks and may still require you to pay your agent’s commission.
- If your agent violates ethical standards or fails to deliver the promised services, you may have stronger grounds for backing out without facing penalties or fees.
- Most agent contracts expire after three to six months, after which clients are free to find a new agent.
- But before you fire your agent, try to work things out! Real estate agents take their reputations seriously, so they’re often willing to find an amicable solution for unhappy clients.
Can I Fire My Real Estate Agent?
If you’re unhappy with your real estate agent, it’s possible to fire them — but first you should review your contract. If you back out in a way that violates your agreement, you could face fees or even legal trouble.
Sellers typically sign an exclusive right to sell listing agreement, while buyers may sign a buyer’s agent agreement.
Both types of contracts are legally binding and list the services your agent must provide.
If your agent fails to provide the services outlined in your contract or acts unethically, you may be able to terminate the contract.
For example, if your agent doesn’t list your home by the agreed upon deadline, you may have clear grounds to back out.
Let’s look at the specific issues sellers and buyers each face when they’re considering firing their real estate agent.
Key Real Estate Agent Contract Details for Sellers and Buyers
|Almost always sign a contract with a real estate agent||Don't always sign a contract with an agent|
|Contract typically expires after 3-6 months||Contract typically expires after 3 or more months|
|May include a cancellation fee or clause saying you still have to pay some or all of the agent's commission||May include a cancellation fee|
For Sellers: Terminating an Exclusive Right To Sell Agreement
Most home sellers who work with a real estate agent sign an exclusive right-to-sell listing agreement.
This contract establishes important details about your relationship with your real estate agent, including:
- How long the agreement will last (typically three to six months)
- The services your agent promises to provide
- Your agent’s commission rate
- When you’ll pay your agent their commission
- A process for terminating the agreement
If your agent isn’t upholding their responsibilities, you may have a valid reason to back out of your contract early without facing any penalties.
However, if you’re simply unhappy with your agent or not “clicking” with them personally, you may have to pay a fee for backing out early. In some cases, you may be on the hook for some or all of your agent’s commission fee — even if someone else ends up helping you sell your home.
This fee compensates your agent for their time and any out-of-pocket costs they incurred while trying to sell your property, such as for brochures or professional photography.
Instead of backing out altogether, your agent may recommend switching to another agent within their brokerage. This approach may help you get the service you’re looking for without breaching your original contract.
Finally, it’s important for sellers to recognize that listing agreements don’t last forever. Unless you’re up against a tight timeline, it may be worthwhile to wait for your contract to end before moving forward with a new agent.
For Buyers: Terminating a Buyer’s Agent Agreement
Some buyers who decide to work with a real estate agent may first have to sign a buyer’s agent agreement.
This legally binding contract establishes an exclusive relationship between you and your agent for a fixed period of time, usually a minimum of three months.
If you decide it’s not working out with your agent, you can ask them to cancel the contract. You may have to pay them a fee for showing you homes — but that price may be worth it if your agent isn’t living up to your expectations or you just don’t get along.
However, not all buyer’s agents require clients to sign a contract. If you never signed a contract, you’re free to terminate your relationship with the agent any time.
Top Reasons To Fire Your Realtor
A good real estate agent should be your number one advocate, providing updates and promptly returning your calls, emails, and texts. If your agent regularly goes dark, makes decisions without your feedback, or misses deadlines, think about backing out of the relationship or switching agents within the brokerage.
It’s tough to work with an agent whose personality clashes with yours. Though incompatibility may not be grounds for breaking your contract, agents will often recommend a colleague within their brokerage whose personality may be a better match.
To help avoid incompatibility, our friends at Clever encourage home sellers and buyers to interview multiple agents before signing a contract. Clever’s free, zero-obligation introductions to pre-vetted agents can help you find the best agent for your situation.
Most real estate agents have a network of photographers, home inspectors, and other real estate professionals — and their relationships can help clients save time, stress, and sometimes money. If your agent can’t recommend trusted real estate professionals, you may be on your own at critical milestones of your transaction.
Meeting important deadlines could be the difference between securing your dream home or losing a sale and letting that home slip away. At a minimum, your real estate agent should stay on top of deadlines.
Lack of Ethics
If your real estate agent belongs to the National Association of Realtors, they must uphold its Code of Ethics and Standards. Additionally, all real estate agents have to obey anti-discrimination laws and uphold their contractual obligations. If your real estate agent violates any of these ethical standards in a clear and demonstrable way, you’ll likely have solid legal grounds (and definitely good reason) to terminate your contract.
How To Fire Your Realtor
Once you’re familiar with the terms of your contract, initiate an honest conversation about your concerns. Try to handle communications via text or email whenever possible so you’ll have a paper trail should any disputes arise.
Because a real estate agent’s reputation can make or break their future prospects, most will be motivated to find an amicable solution. They may suggest that you work with a colleague within their brokerage. This can help you get the service you’re looking for without breaching your original contract.
In other cases, an agent may release you from your contract early entirely.
If you can’t resolve the issue amicably, escalate the conversation to your agent’s broker. If that doesn’t work out, you may want to consult a lawyer to weigh your legal options.
Remember, too, you have the option to wait until your contract expires — typically after three to six months after you sign — to find another real estate agent who better meets your needs.
Finding a New Agent
To avoid another bad match, it’s crucial to carefully vet your next real estate agent.
Before signing a contract, you should always interview several agents and ask in-depth questions about their credentials, knowledge of the local market, communication style, and network of service providers.
» LEARN: Read This Before Choosing a Realtor
Our friends at Clever make it easy to find top-rated real estate agents who are experts in your local market. You’ll work with a concierge who can introduce you to a handful of great agents. You can interview them, with zero obligation, before deciding on one to represent you.
Best of all, Clever’s partner agents offer full service while helping you save thousands on commission. You’ll pay just $3,000 or 1% if your home sells for more than $350,000.