How do I break up with my Realtor?
QUESTION: I signed a contract with a real estate firm to sell my house, but I'm not happy and want to cancel the deal. The broker said I can't cancel for one year. How can I get out of this contract?
ANSWER: When you hire a real estate agent to help you sell your house, you will sign a written contract known as a listing agreement. The terms of this contract, like any other contract, should be negotiated before you sign it. You and your agent are bound by the terms of the agreement – and the specific terms will control how and if you can end this unhappy relationship. I recommend entering only six-month contracts that allow for a reduced commission if the seller finds the buyer directly.
Most listing agreements contain a provision for paying the agent a reduced fee to cancel the contract if the seller decides that he no longer wants to sell the property. But the agreement also states that if the seller sells the property after the cancellation, the agent will get the commission.
If you are looking to cancel the contract because your agent is not doing the job or is acting unprofessionally, you should contact the agent's supervisor at the realty company and see if the problem can be resolved. See if you can work with a different agent from the same company. If that doesn't work, you should reach out to your local real estate board or your state's licensing agency. You may also want to try to negotiate with your agent to get out of the contract. Remember that your agent has already put effort into trying to sell your property and deserves to be paid. If all else fails, you should contact a local attorney to see what your legal options are.
ABOUT THE WRITER:
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He is the chairperson of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is an adjunct professor for the Nova Southeastern University Paralegal Studies program. Send him questions online at http://sunsent.nl/mR20t7 or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.
The information and materials in this column are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in this column is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.
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