Can You Fire Your Realtor?

Written by Nicole Harms
Updated February 9, 2016
If you’re unhappy with your Realtor, consider asking to be released from your contract. (Photo by Katelin Kinney)

What can you do if your Realtor isn't doing a good job?

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You've hired a real estate agent with flashy fliers and a fair commission. You've listed your home, only to watch it sit and sit. After a few months without a showing, you start to wonder if you've hired an ineffective real estate agent.

How can you tell the difference between a good agent and a not-so-good one? And how do you break up with your Realtor if you decide it's not working?

Know the signs of a bad Realtor

If your home isn't selling, it's easy to assume the agent is the problem, but sometimes your actions as the seller could be holding up the process. If your home is grossly overpriced, it won't sell. Be sure to take a close look at the entire situation before assuming the real estate agent is the problem.

However, there are some telltale signs of an ineffective agent, such as:

• Little communication with the seller

• No decision-making skills

• Few leadership qualities

• Failure to use all resources to sell your home

• Putting too much pressure on you

If your agent is guilty of most of these, you have probably hired a bad one. Unfortunately, if you have a contract with your agent, you can't simply hand him or her a pink slip and walk away. Firing your real estate agent is going to be a bit more complex, but it's possible to walk away if you need to.

Study the real estate contract

Your contract will outline your responsibilities as well as the responsibilities of the agent. Take a look at it, and determine if your agent is in breach of contract.

If the agent refuses to do what's outlined on the marketing plan, you may have a case. Simple services like taking photographs, showing the home to perspective buyers and responding to seller questions are all items the agent should be doing, and these should be in the contract.

Negotiate with the real estate agent

If the agent is guilty of breaching the real estate contract, open the lines of communication. In some instances, this will allow you to work out your differences and keep working together.

Or, if the agent is truly of poor quality, negotiations may open the door to a written agreement canceling the contract. Once you have this agreement, you can walk away without fear of a lawsuit down the road.

Paying early termination fees

If your agreement requires early termination fees, paying them is another way you can walk away from the agent. These fees, which may range from $300 to $500, pay the agent for the time he or she put into trying to sell your property, even if the process wasn't successful.

Before you balk at paying these fees, remember that the agent has put money into ads, and time into marketing your property, even if it didn't work out as you wanted.

You've entered into a contract with your agent, but that doesn't mean you must remain in a relationship with a bad Realtor. If you're willing to negotiate, pay for the agent's time, and do a little digging into the details of the contract, you can walk away and find a better agent to sell your house.

Editor's note: This is an updated version of a story originally published on Oct. 19, 2012.

Did you ever have to walk away from a real estate agent? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below.

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