A property transaction, whether you are buying or selling, will have long-term repercussions on your finances. Buyers and sellers are naturally opposed in what they want out of a property sale – sellers want to achieve the highest possible return on their investment, while, at the same time, a buyer wants to pay as little as possible for their investment. To navigate the intricacies of property sales, and achieve their respective goals, sellers and buyers rely on the guidance and expertise of real estate agents. But what happens if a real estate agent does not have your best interests at heart?
Whether you are the buyer or seller, the real estate agent you appoint needs to be your champion during the entire process of buying or selling a property. Because sellers and buyers have conflicting goals, you need to ensure the agent you appoint is ‘in your corner’, so to speak. You need to be able to trust the agent you appoint – for buyers, a property is a large monetary commitment that will affect their long-term financial wellbeing, and for sellers the proceeds from the sale will determine the success of their initial investment, as well as their financial future.
But what happens if you’ve appointed a real estate agent, only to realise he or she does not ‘have your back’? What if you need to terminate the relationship? And how do you go about firing the real estate agent you appointed? At the end of the day, your money and your financial future are at stake, and you need to look out for yourself.
Here’s what you need to know about terminating a relationship with a real estate agent:
1. How break up with a real estate agent
It might sound overdramatic, but, in many ways, terminating an agreement with an estate agent can be like a break-up. Buying or selling property can be a very emotional experience – you are either looking for the perfect investment to build a profitable portfolio or your dream home where you will start building your life and future – and invest a lot of money, or you are selling an investment or a home where you have built a life, looking for the highest profit possible.
Buying or selling property is a high-stakes, deeply personal experience for buyers and sellers, and it is no surprise that emotions can run high. It is also not unreasonable for buyers and sellers to expect a real estate agent to understand these circumstances, and act with the appropriate professionalism and passion.
If a buyer or seller feels that a real estate agent is lacking, in whatever way, it is understandable that they would want to get out of the ‘unhappy union’.
Just as with any breakup, however, it is best to try and end the relationship on an amicable note – nobody wants unnecessary drama to further sour the relationship, or to unduly disadvantage the other party. Property transactions are, as discussed, a very personal experience for buyers and sellers, but agents also have a vested interest – it is their livelihood. Unfortunately, sometimes relationships just don’t work out.
So, once you’ve realised that the relationship should be terminated, how should you proceed?
You should arrange a face-to-face meeting with the real estate agent – dumping someone via text, email or over the phone isn’t a very classy move.
Be honest and frank with the real estate agent. Explain why you feel the agreement is not working out, or is no longer beneficial to you. Use examples to illustrate your reasons for unhappiness, for example:
- “You said that (promise), but now (reality).”
- “I feel that you are not communicating efficiently because (examples).”
- “I do not feel that you are invested enough, because (examples).”
- “I do not feel that you have my best interests at heart, because (examples).”
- “You are not adhering to what was agreed upon. (Examples).”
You should speak to the agent plainly about your concerns. Getting emotional or angry, although understandable, will not help the matter, and will most likely only make it messier and more uncomfortable for all parties involved.
It is true that an agent may simply not have been aware of your unhappiness and is willing to change their behaviour to salvage the relationship. However, if the relationship is unsalvageable, you should not hesitate to do what is best for you, and terminate the relationship.
How you go about terminating the relationship will depend on whether you are a buyer or seller. In most cases, buyers don’t have a legal contract binding them to specific agent, but sellers do. This will be discussed in more detail below.
2. Reasons to fire your real estate agent
There are many reasons why buyers or sellers might feel the need to terminate their relationship with an agent. Some of the most common reasons include:
- A lack of communication
There is nothing worse than a real estate agent who is never available, or who ignores your communications. In this atmosphere resentments fester, and miscommunications are frequent. It is the agent’s job to keep you updated and informed, and to address any concerns you might have.
- The agent’s behaviour is unethical or unprofessional
A real estate agent’s first loyalty should be to his or her client, and they should always conduct themselves in a professional and ethical manner.
- The agent is not delivering on what they promised
To get you to sign on as a client, the real estate agent made certain promises, and whether these relate to a timeframe, pricing, etc., they need to deliver on what was agreed upon.
- It feels like you and your needs are not a priority
Although real estate agents have multiple clients at any given time, each buyer or seller should still feel that they matter, and that the agent is actively working to help them achieve their goals.
3. How to fire your real estate agent if you are the seller
When it comes to firing a real estate agent when you’re a seller, there are usually strings attached. When you mandated an agent to sell your house, you signed a contract with them. This contract usually stipulates the timeframe for the mandate, commission, any applicable termination fees or penalties, protection periods, etc.
The real estate agent can make it harder for you to terminate the contract, depending on his or her personality. You could also be liable for termination fees, as stipulated in the mandate.
If the agent refuses to see reason after a frank discussion, it might be best to go up the ladder and speak to the broker or owner of the franchise. It is unlikely that the broker will want the agency’s name to be dragged through the mud or become involved in a legal battle. You might be able to come to amicable, mutually beneficial terms of cancellation. For example, if the agent can prove how much money they’ve spent on marketing the property, you could agree to reimburse this to facilitate the cancellation.
If you are unable to come to an agreement, you could simply wait for the mandate to expire, ending your obligation to the real estate agency. If all else fails, you could breach the contract, but this should not be done lightly, as you could be held liable for certain costs.
Also note if there is a protection period clause in the contract. These clauses aim to prevent under-the-table dealings between sellers and buyers that the estate agent found. However, it could mean that the real estate agent is owed commission if the home is sold within a certain period – meaning you could be liable for two commissions.
4. How to fire your real estate agent if you are the buyer
Buyers almost never enter a legally-binding contract with the real estate agent they mandate to help them find a property. This means it is easier to extricate yourself from an unhappy partnership.
However, you should still strive to remain civil and terminate the relationship in a respectful manner. The best way to do this is to have a face-to-face meeting with the real estate agent and explain why you are choosing to move on to another agent.
5. How to find a great real estate agent
The best way to avoid the complications and disappointment of a failed relationship with a real estate agent is to work with experienced, qualified agents. Utilising an online agent finder like Perfect Agent is the easiest way to compare multiple agents in one go. After you fill out a quick questionnaire, Perfect Agent will use the information to recommend estate agents, based on your requirements.
Finding or selling property can be an emotional rollercoaster, and you need a real estate agent who is willing to strap in for the ride. Your agent needs to guide and support you, understand your needs and work to achieve your goals. Unfortunately, sometimes the agent you choose just simply isn’t the right agent for you.
Are you looking for a real estate agent to help you buy or sell a property? Don’t waste your time on the ‘wrong one’, contact Perfect Agent today to receive a tailormade list of estate agents who can help you, taking your exact needs into account.