Help me dump my agent
February 8, 2006 11:47 AM   Subscribe

I have a horrible real estate agent. He's acting as our buying agent and, without going into details, we'd like to sever our relationship with him. Unfortunately, we signed an agreement saying that we'd work with him until May 31st. My question: Is there a form, or legal document, or legally binding language that we can use to cancel our agreement? Or are we stuck?
posted by recurve to Home & Garden (17 answers total)
That sounds like a strange agreement to have. Can you provide details? What are your specific obligations to him and his work?
posted by DrJohnEvans at 11:57 AM on February 8, 2006

Have you re-read the agreement? It may speak to cancelling the agreement. Have you tried talking to the agent about it? Maybe they'd release you from the agreement if they know your feelings.
posted by raedyn at 12:00 PM on February 8, 2006

I've dumped agents a couple of times in the past. You just tell them. If they make an issue about the agreement, well, you worry about it then. But most agents know it is in their interest to close the door quietly with clients. One agent got upset with me but tough titty.

What country are you in? It is a good idea to contact your local realtor's association and check out the realtor. In one of my cases I was unhappy with the service from my realtor and rang the association only to discover the realtor was in deep shit and about to have their license taken away. They hadn't told us.
posted by unSane at 12:01 PM on February 8, 2006

(DrJohn, I think maybe it's a regional thing. Around here it's common to have a contract with a buyers agent when you're home shopping. NOt mandatory, but common.)
posted by raedyn at 12:03 PM on February 8, 2006

(Yeah, I'd understand a contract specifying agent exclusivity, commission, etc., but the time-sensitive aspect kind of threw me.)
posted by DrJohnEvans at 12:09 PM on February 8, 2006

I'm a Realtor, as mentioned above directly ask him to cancel your contract. If that doesn't work you can contact the managing broker in his office and ask him to help you cancel the contract.
They may not be oblicaged to do it but if the agent is not fufilling his end of the deal, which it sounds like, his managing broker should be pretty helpful in helping you out.
posted by Wallzatcha at 12:15 PM on February 8, 2006

Ask your Realtor for a release from this contract. Realtors get lots of business from word of mouth and referrals, so it's definitely not in their best interest to have a current client badmouthing them all over the place.

And what Wallzatcha said.
posted by ldenneau at 12:19 PM on February 8, 2006

My understanding of the contract was similar to what Wallzatcha mentioned, it was voidable if you were unhappy with his services. I was under the impression the idea of the contract was to prevent the buyer from going around with a multiple buyers agents simultaneously.
posted by jerseygirl at 12:20 PM on February 8, 2006

You should also be prepared to state that you aren't going to purchase any of the houses that this agent has already shown you. If you are planning on purchasing one of those, then you owe him some sort of commission.
posted by alms at 12:37 PM on February 8, 2006

We've only had a couple of agents, but both said something along the lines of what unSane suggested: they don't want to be tied to an unhappy customer either. If the agent is a complete loser, maybe they make an issue of it. But don't start worrying about it until then.
posted by yerfatma at 12:38 PM on February 8, 2006

From your profile it looks like you are in NY, you might start with the State of New York ... scroll down on the page for various links and info. If they give you a real hard time, you might threaten to report them. If they are acting illegally, you should report them.
posted by lobstah at 1:22 PM on February 8, 2006

I second the suggestion of talking to the broker in charge. He or she can be very helpful in these situations. (My husband is a sales manager at a real estate firm and I used to work for a Broker in Charge. Believe me, that is part of their job.)
posted by konolia at 1:34 PM on February 8, 2006

Response by poster: I'm a Realtor, as mentioned above directly ask him to cancel your contract. If that doesn't work you can contact the managing broker in his office and ask him to help you cancel the contract.posted by Wallzatcha

I haven't asked him to cancel the contract yet. He told us that he would cancel it if we weren't happy, but how is that done so that it is legally binding? Is there another form that we should all sign?

Thanks for all of the responses so far.
posted by recurve at 1:55 PM on February 8, 2006

In my state (Florida), there's a Change of Terms form that the parties must all sign (agent, broker, and clients) if you want to be released from such a contract or, well, change the terms in any way (commission, effective dates, etc.).
posted by Gator at 2:16 PM on February 8, 2006

A contract with a selling agent (not the case here) is more tricky to cancel, because it's difficult to know when a potential buyer (or buyer's agent) first saw a house. But with a buyer's agent (this case), if you buy a house that the agent hasn't shown to you, the buyer really can't make a case (legal or otherwise) that you owe a fee. (Which isn't to argue that a written document cancelling the contract isn't a good thing; it clearly is.)

For what it's worth, these days, realtors have unique "electronic keys" that let them open a locked container with housekey in it, to do a visit even if no one is home. That opening is recorded. And, of course, appointments are typically arranged through a selling agent, who keeps records. So it's pretty cut-and-dried as to whether a buying agent was involved in showing you a given house (that you purchased) or not.
posted by WestCoaster at 8:36 PM on February 8, 2006

Best answer: If you've already retained a lawyer in regards to the home purchase, the lawyer should be able to draw up a short document for you both to sign that will allow you to walk away from the contract with no worries.

If you haven't retained a lawyer yet, DO SO NOW. Have them draft a "no-contract contract" that says you are mutually severing the agreement. Then, before you sign another agreement with another broker, have your lawyer look at it.
posted by MrZero at 8:44 PM on February 8, 2006

If you have a new broker, I would think it would be their initiative to get things straightened out.
posted by tfmm at 2:44 PM on February 9, 2006

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