IS IT OK TO BREAK UP WITH YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT? IF SO HOW?

Buying or selling a home rarely happens overnight, and it鈥檚 not uncommon for buyers or sellers to interface or even work with multiple agents. Best-case scenario, the right agent shows their face early, and the relationship (and transaction) is a huge success.

But it鈥檚 possible though that, along the way, you may find that your relationship with your real estate agent just isn鈥檛 working anymore. Maybe the agent is moving faster than you鈥檇 like. Or they鈥檙e not as available as you need them to be. Maybe they just don鈥檛 get you.

So what do you do? Is it OK to break up with your real estate agent? And if so, how can you gracefully end it?

The answer depends on whether you鈥檙e working with an agent as a buyer or a seller.

Advice for buyers
Real estate agents earn their commissions from sellers, and the money is split between the sellers鈥 and buyers鈥 agents. As a general rule, as a buyer, you won鈥檛 be asked to enter into a contractual or financial agreement with a real estate agent.

Instead, a buyer makes a (sometimes non-verbal) handshake agreement with the real estate agent. You鈥檙e basically agreeing to exclusively rely upon that agent. And that鈥檚 fair.

Agents often work hard and spend a lot of time engaging with buyers, watching the market, writing contracts, showing properties, reviewing disclosures, and so on. Imagine how they鈥檇 feel after spending months working with a client, only to be informed that another agent found them the home they want?

Before you shake hands, do your homework. Ask friends for references, and check out online agent reviews.

Going to open houses is a good way to meet and interview agents who work where you want to buy. Don鈥檛 jump in with the first agent you meet. Like any relationship, start slow and feel it out. It鈥檚 harder to break up with your agent if you have too deeply engaged.

If you鈥檙e not quite ready to be tied down, it鈥檚 better not to engage an agent until you are ready. Early on, a good real estate agent should read your situation well and provide the appropriate amount of attention as needed. They鈥檒l act as a resource, and be available when you need them. Once the search kicks into high gear, agents and buyers will spend lots of time together and communicate 24脳7.

If you do find that a relationship is not working, be honest and upfront before more time passes. Offer the agent constructive feedback about why it鈥檚 not working for you.

Advice for sellers
Since the seller pays the real estate agent鈥檚 commission, the brokerage requires the seller to sign a listing agreement upfront. During the listing period, you鈥檙e contractually obligated to work exclusively with the agent and brokerage firm, specifically on the sale of your home.

In fact, even if you find a buyer on your own (such as a friend), the listing agent/brokerage firm is still due their commission.

Just as a buyer must do his homework, it鈥檚 even more important for a seller to do her research, given the commitment. Most listing agreements state that if the listing agent brings an offer at the listing price and the seller doesn鈥檛 accept it, the agent is still due a commission. This scenario happens sometimes when the listing agent and seller aren鈥檛 getting along.

In most situations, if the listing agent isn鈥檛 doing a good job but there鈥檚 still time left on the agreement, you should simply tell the agent it鈥檚 not working out. A good, fair and honest agent will apologize for not meeting your expectations and will agree to release you from the agreement ahead of schedule. But that鈥檚 not always the case, and sellers typically respond by no longer agreeing to open houses or considering offers from the agent.

Sometimes, an agent wants to break up with the seller. Maybe the seller insists on keeping the price of the home too high or isn鈥檛 cooperating to accommodate showings. The agent simply feels she can鈥檛 be successful with the seller, no matter how much time she puts into the job.

If you鈥檙e a seller whose agent wants out of the agreement because you aren鈥檛 taking the necessary steps to sell your home, it鈥檚 best to let them go 鈥 and to give serious consideration as to whether you鈥檙e really ready to sell or not.