Breaking up is hard to do

Breaking up is hard to do

They say breaking up is hard to do — and that most often can be the case when it comes to leaving your realtor.

Although not overly common, there may come a time when you want to ditch the real estate agent you have entrusted to help you sell or buy a home.

However, if you have signed a contract to work with your agent, chances are you’re stuck with them, at least for awhile.

Realtor Andre Pasche says the top reason why a client may want to dump their listing agent before their contract ends is that they blame them for not being able to sell their property.

“You can find yourself at a standstill,” said Pasche, who is with Norman Hill Realty in Markham, Ont.

“The house isn’t selling, the real estate agent isn’t going to cancel the agreement, so nothing is going to happen. Basically everybody is wasting time because they’re mad at each other.”

Other reasons why a homeowner may become unhappy can include a realtor over-promising in their pitch, convincing the owner the home is worth more than market value or added services such as staging and marketing materials were not delivered to their standards.

Alternatively, homebuyers can become frustrated if they keep losing out on bids, or begin to not trust the expertise or advice given to them by their buying agent.

In these scenarios, there is little recourse for someone who wants to back out of a contract, says Pasche.

The first step an unhappy client should take is to express their concerns with their agent to see if they’d be willing to break the contract.

If that’s not possible, they can speak with the agent’s manager and ask to work with another salesperson in the company. Switching agents within the same brokerage does not contravene the original contract, which is usually signed with a brokerage, not an agent, for anywhere from 60 to 90 days.

Lastly, the homeowner can reach out and file a complaint with the regulating real estate body in their province, like the Real Estate Council of Ontario, which can often be laborious and time-consuming.

Pasche says the simplest way to stop working with an agent is to wait until the contract expires, pull the property off the market and relist it with a new realtor.

Listing agents are often reluctant to let clients break their contracts because they typically spend hundreds of dollars on staging the property, creating a website and hiring a professional photographer. Some realtors may agree to void the contract, but will insist on being reimbursed for these costs.

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