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A Barrington Realtor’s Answer – Can I Fire My Listing Agent?
This is a question asked on the internet a lot of times. Google, the search engine recognizes the phrase because it is searched for a lot. That tells me sellers across the nation are not happy with way things are going. The answer is never a simple one and we can only write here in general terms and when specific we are talking about Illinois. Every state has different laws in real estate so sellers should always seek information in their own state. That said it’s not difficult to answer the question “Can I Fire My Listing Agent?” because you should have a written agreement, aka contract, when you listed the property and somewhere in the legalese there will be reference to cancelling or terminating.
In general the answer is NO. But learn more about what you can do and what alternatives there may be on offer.
You Cannot Fire a Listing Agent and Be Done!
This is one of the most misunderstood things in listing property from a sellers perspective. You’re not listing with an agent. Your legal agreement is with the brokerage. Therefore your listing agent cannot legally agree to withdraw from the agreement, only the brokerage can. That usually means the company’s broker of record. Here in Illinois we are referred to as the Managing Broker. Only Managing Brokers have the right to cancel a listing agreement in Illinois. Just think of them as the company.
Q. Can the Managing Broker or Broker of Record cancel an agreement even when a listing agent objects. Absolutely!
Listing Agreements – The Fine Print
Generally speaking your listing agreement will have details of the property, an asking price, the names of the brokerage and all sellers, here in Illinois your Designated Agent (the one you’ll be working with), compensation and fine print. The fine print should reference a term for the agreement. This could be one day, one month, one year, anything in between, and other scenarios, like three years agreement with ability to cancel at the yearly anniversary upon 30 days notice. The agreement term is up for negotiation like anything else with two party sides. So property sellers don’t have to go along with everything offered. If you don’t like it negotiate it.
You’re Not Happy With Your Listing Agent
Once you’ve signed the agreement both sides are contractually committed. We know agreements can be changed. For example if you want to reduce your asking price, both parties can sign an addendum to do that. It’s not difficult and why would either party refuse? What happens though when things go awry. What will you do if:
- Your listing agent is not doing what he/she said they would.
- You constantly cannot reach your listing agent.
- You feel abandoned.
- You don’t talk to your listing agent when you want, or ever.
- Your home does not sell and you don’t know why?
- You are not satisfied with the marketing?
- You feel your listing agent does not care.
- You have doubts about the honesty of information previously given.
- You’re offered a cheaper rate of commission!
- You found out a relative is a Realtor.
These are simply examples of why property sellers seek advice on how to fire their listing agent. I’ll go straight to the last two items on that list and say those are NEVER valid reasons to seek a cancellation to a written agreement. Frankly it’s not fair to say you want to take advantage of a deal you found. Effort and cost has been spent on marketing even in the most basic of instances. Don’t try it, you’ll be met with resistance and your relationship from that point will go downhill. Resentment will set in and your listing agent will have a hard time feeling you are being fair. It could result in less effort on their part.
Why Do You Want To Fire Your Listing Agent?
I’ve already listed a few common reasons and they’ll generally fall into two groups. Lack of service and lack of expectations.
Expectations should be discussed before signing the listing agreement. Often sellers have no real idea about what expectations they have, until they don’t happen. Listing agents often get a bad rap from sellers because the unspoken expectations are never met. It’s hard to meet them if we don’t know what they are. Even if you started out with none, the minute you have one, communicate it to your listing agent so she can respond accordingly. It’s always a good idea to chat about expectations before you sign on the dotted line. Let’s look at some examples.
- Do you realize not all agents work in real estate full time?
- Do you know that it’s your listing agent that decides what marketing will be done, not the brokerage. (At least very rarely a brokerage!)
- Marketing choices, is it the MLS and done or is there more?
- There are tech savvy and tech savvy. For some listing agents that means a phone, for others we have every gadget and they all travel with us. Email on the fly, digital form signing, internet presence and SEO knowledge are all examples of the use of technology in real estate.
- Customer base. How important are you as a client?
This article is not to answer the questions, more to make you think. There are a lot more.
Service is the action that answers the expectations, right? You know what to expect and signed an agreement, but now your listing agent is not delivering. What can you do?
- Understand your issues may be a two way problem, look at yourself first. Are you being fair to your listing agent?
- Make a list of things you would like to address and seek answers in a face to face conversation with your listing agent.
- Ask for resolution to the issues at hand. Perhaps seek another written agreement that your listing agent will rectify within a set period of time.
- In the event of not achieving a resolution, make contact with the Managing Broker and explain your issues.
- Be prepared to agree to changing agents rather than cancelling an agreement.
If All Is Still Not Well With You And Your Listing Agent
All you can do is ask to be let out of the agreement. If your relationship is bad I would hope both sides would agree. You may ask them to take your property off the market and they may do that but your agreement is still in place. You will not be able to re-list with another brokerage and agent. This is what I call taking you hostage. You cannot sell unless you want to pony up two lots of compensation, and risk being taken to court for breach of contract!
I would really hope that nothing ever gets this tense or nasty, but they do. So what’s the alternative?
An Easy Out Clause
As a Realtor working in the Barrington Illinois area including come of the surrounding suburbs, I offer what’s known as an easy out clause. Simply this. You list with me you are only ever tied into the contract for a maximum of 30 days. All you have to do is give me 30 days written notice and your agreement can be cancelled. You’ll the be free to list with another brokerage if you want. I also have the right to give you 30 days notice. So if our relationship cannot stand the test of even one day, I am not going to make our lives miserable.
I would expect you to talk with me about why and I hope it would never be to save on commission or use a relative instead because that’s simply not fair to me. But I will stand by the 30 days regardless. Rarely do brokerages offer this as a standard way of doing business. They want to be given a fair chance of selling a home. A quick cancellation clause might also make a listing agent lazy when it comes to marketing a home, maybe not, maybe they are lazy anyway.
My view point is different.
If I don’t do what I say and you are not happy, why would either of us want to continue a relationship? Of course I know that I do a lot of marketing for my homes. It takes me about a month to get it all running smoothly and the same amount of time to take it all away, hence the 30 days. After that we’ll part company and you can move on to a new listing agent. As I said, it’s an easy out clause and there are no hidden catches. It comes down to this. Confidence and Position. You see I am the Managing Broker so I make the company rules and I am confident in my role as a listing agent and marketeer.
If you are considering selling your property in Barrington, or any of the surrounding northwest suburbs and like the idea of a confident Realtor that won’t tie you to a never ending relationship, with quickie divorces, give me a call at 847-363-3686.