Can You Change Realtors When Selling Your Home?

Can You Change Realtors When Selling Your Home?

You can change realtors when you are selling your home under certain conditions which are explained in this article.

two real estate agents sitting in a living room.

If things aren’t working out with the real estate agent selling your home, you might be wondering if you can switch to a new one.

For the most part, the answer is yes.

However, the steps you’ll need to take to change realtors depend on what your listing agreement says.

What is a Listing Agreement?

A listing agreement is an employment contract between a real estate broker and a property owner. With it, the seller is hiring a broker to act as a listing agent and find a buyer for their home.

Most listing agreements have set timelines. For example, the contract might give the agent two to six months to sell your home. After the term limit expires, a client can continue working with the agent or switch to a new one.

Listing agreements also specify:

  • The commission rate (which gets split with the buyer’s agent)
  • A suggested listing price
  • Services provided by the listing agent
  • Process for ending the relationship (including any consequences)
  • Any other terms and conditions

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Can You Get Out of a Listing Agreement?

A listing agreement is legally binding, but you may be able to get out of it so that you can change realtors. The steps you’ll need to take depend on the wording of your listing agreement and your realtor.

How to Get Out of a Listing Agreement

Start by reading through your listing agreement. It will detail the process for mediating disputes with your agent as well as terminating the contract. For example, some contracts might just require a cancellation fee or reimbursement for expenses if you want to end the contract early.

After reading through the listing agreement, you should:

  • Talk to your realtor: Realtors value relationships and their reputations. A lot of good agents would rather work things out amicably and go separate ways than enforce the contract. However, you might still need to pay a cancellation fee or pay for incurred expenses.
  • Talk to the agent’s broker: If your agent won’t let you out of the contract, reach out to the brokerage firm. They might offer to reassign you to a different realtor within the brokerage. In this case, you’d have the benefit of working with a new realtor without breaking your listing agreement.
  • Confirm if the agent shirked their duties: Your listing agreement specifies the agent’s duties and responsibilities. For example, putting up a street sign. If they default on agreed-upon terms (i.e. fail to put up the sign), you can use that as a reason to back out of the contract. Submit a written request to be released from the contract. In it, list the specific duties that your realtor has failed to carry out.

If you’re still not able to get out of the contract, you’ll need to wait for it to expire before you can move forward with another agent.

How to Avoid Changing Realtors When Selling Your Home

Some extra effort at the beginning of your home-selling journey can help you avoid the potential stress of terminating a listing agreement. Take the time to properly vet any potential realtors, and don’t settle for the first realtor you talk to. Remember, you aren’t legally bound to an agent or brokerage until you sign a listing agreement.

As you speak to realtors, ask questions to help you ensure that their communication, marketing strategies, and suggested listing price align with your expectations. Some questions you may want to ask include:

  • How many homes have you sold in my area in the past year?
  • Are you a full-time real estate agent? What are your business hours?
  • What’s your preferred method of communication?
  • How many clients do you currently have?
  • What is your plan for marketing my home?
  • What’s your recommended listing price for my home?
  • What other professionals do you work with to help you sell homes?
  • Can you provide me with a few references?

Final Thoughts on Changing Realtors When Selling Your Home

For the best chance at success with terminating a listing agreement, be frank and polite to your realtor. Many agents will release you from a contract just to maintain a good reputation in the community. It’s also wise to communicate in writing as you work towards ending the relationship with your realtor. That way, you’ll have written documentation of your efforts should you encounter any problems down the road.

FAQs About Changing Listing Agents

Do I have to sign a listing agreement?

If you want to work with a listing agent to sell your home, you’ll have to sign a listing agreement. It legally grants them the ability to represent you in the sale of your home. However, you can meet with the listing agent to ask questions and vet them without signing a listing agreement.

Is there a penalty for changing real estate agents?

Some realtors will let you out of your contract without any financial penalties. Others will require a cancellation fee and/or expense reimbursement. It all depends on your listing agreement.

When is the best time to change listing agents?

You’ll have a better chance at getting out of your contract if you raise concerns with your listing agent early on in the process—before they’ve put a lot of time and effort into selling your property. You’ll have an easier time changing listing agents after your listing agreement expires.


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