Firing your real estate agent can be a tough decision. After all, an agent is supposed to help you during the homebuying process, not make it more difficult. However, there may come a time when you realize that the partnership with your agent simply isn’t working out.
There are many reasons to fire your real estate agent, ranging from poor communication to practices that are illegal. Whatever the reason, you deserve a real estate agent or Realtor that has your best interests in mind.
Here’s how to fire your real estate agent and start fresh with a new one.
1. Know When You Can Fire Your Real Estate Agent
First, it’s important to understand that you technically can fire your real estate agent at any point before you close. However, splitting up with your agent sooner rather than later can save you from owing them fees and commissions.
When you can fire your agent
One key to firing your real estate agent without penalty is timing. If you recently hired your agent, then there’s a good chance you won’t owe them a commission if you fire them. If it’s later in the homebuying process, you still can fire your agent, but you’ll likely have to pay them for their work.
Many agents include a safety protection clause in the buyer-broker agreement that entitles them to a commission if they helped you find your home. The buyer-broker agreement is a contract that outlines the details of the partnership between you and your agent, and the responsibilities of each party. If you never signed such an agreement, firing your agent may be as simple as having a conversation with them and letting them know you’d like to move on.
When you can’t fire your agent
If you and your agent signed a buyer-broker agreement, you can’t fire them without penalty unless there’s a breach of the contract’s conditions, or both parties agree to dissolve the contract. And the longer you wait, the more likely it is that you’ll owe them a commission and fees.
2. Start With a Warning
Sometimes the easiest solution is talking things out. Respectfully let your agent know that you’re unhappy, and give them an opportunity to rectify any problems. After having a conversation with your agent, you might realize that your partnership is salvageable.
3. Review Your Contract
If you communicated your concerns and that didn’t solve the problem, take a look at your buyer-broker agreement. The contract may include provisions for ending the partnership. Try to find any mention of a safety protection clause, contract duration, or rules of termination.
4. Talk With the Agent’s Broker
The agent’s broker may have the authority to end the buyer-broker agreement if your agent doesn’t agree to end the contract. The broker also can find a new agent for you within the brokerage to work with, free of penalty. Not only can this save you money because you won’t have to pay a commission, but it also can save you time by having the broker find a new agent for you.
5. Talk With a Real Estate Lawyer
If the agent and the broker refuse to end the contract, it might be time to speak with a lawyer who has expertise in real estate. The lawyer will ask for relevant documentation, so have your buyer-broker agreement, home inspection reports, and communication trail ready.
6. Terminate the Contract
If all else fails and you’re determined to fire your real estate agent, it’s time to formally terminate the contract. It’s in your best interest to communicate this decision to your agent and their broker directly and respectfully.
“When deciding to go with a different agent, it is best to let the agent know via a communication medium such as email or telephone to let them know that you are deciding to go a different direction, as well as providing them with insight into your decision,” says Ginia Williams, a Realtor and tax professional at Centric Realty in Memphis, Tennessee.
7. If Necessary, File a Complaint
If you believe your real estate agent acted unethically or illegally, such as by trying to steer you, you can submit a complaint to your state’s real estate commission. This may lead to an investigation and a formal hearing that could result in the agent’s license getting terminated.
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8. Hire a New Agent
While it may be frustrating to start over, you may have more confidence to hire a new agent since you’ve already gone through the process. Here’s how to find a new agent:
- Research qualified agents. Friends and family members can provide referrals, as can online reviews. According to a 2022 survey by the National Association of Realtors, 38% of buyers worked with an agent who was referred to them by a friend, neighbor, or relative.
- Evaluate your candidates. Think about why you fired your agent. This may help you identify the qualities you want in a new one.
- Interview your candidates. “Find the agent that understands your needs and is willing to help you in your particular situation to find the home of your dreams or sell your home and protect your interests,” Williams says.
- Look for red flags. Watch for hints that you may be walking into another partnership with a bad agent. Some of these red flags may look similar to the reasons you fired your real estate agent:
- Poor communication.
- Often distracted.
- Doesn’t have a referral list.
- Few clients.
- Only recently licensed.
- Doesn’t ask questions about your homebuying needs.
- As a buyer’s agent, consistently closes above listing price.
- Choose a real estate agent or Realtor. Weigh the pros and cons of each candidate, and know the difference between a real estate agent and a Realtor. A Realtor is a member of NAR and adheres to its code of ethics, so they might be a good option if you fired your agent because they acted unethically.
- Sign the buyer-broker agreement. This last step makes your new partnership official.
Here are answers to some common questions about how to fire your Realtor as a buyer.