Home Buying in Sacramento>Question Details

Sharon, Home Buyer in California

How to fire one's real estate agent? We have no confidence in our real estate agent and do not trust her

Asked by Sharon, California Tue Feb 26, 2008

anymore. We don't think she has our best interest in her mind (but only hers). We think she plays pressure tactics and is not on our side when it comes to negotiating the best price for a home. She does not guide us nor inform us about all the terms of the offer/counter-offer and takes the side of the seller.

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Elizabeth Weintraub’s answer
I'm sorry to hear that things are not going well. Typically, in these types of situations, the first thing you should do is voice your concerns to your agent. Not everybody feels comfortable doing this, but it's generally the best thing to do. Sometimes, it turns out to be a breakdown in communication. You want one thing, and your agent does the opposite, so you get frustrated. It's possible that if your agent fully understood what you wanted from her, she would work harder at providing that for you. Everybody's needs are different and few people are mind readers.

It could be a clash of personalities, too. In fact, it could be miscommunication. Since you've invested time with this agent, it might be a good idea to try to work it out before deciding to fire her. There are always two sides to every story, you know. :) It might be possible that this agent is actually working very hard for you but is overwhelmed with helping other buyers and has fallen down on the job of communicating with you or hasn't anticipated how you are viewing her performance.

However, in the event that you do not choose to work it out or you tried and your efforts failed, the next step would be to look at your employment contract. Did you sign an exclusive buyer's broker agreement with this individual? Most buyer broker agreements cover a specific period of time and include properties the agent has shown you for a period extending beyond the agreement. If you have signed a BBA, it is possible the brokerage may assign a different agent to you if the two of you cannot work together.

I suggest you google "How to Fire Your Agent" and read some of the solutions offered. Generally, a BBA is a bi-lateral contract, meaning both sides have to perform. If your agent is not performing, is violating the terms of the contract and her fiduciary relationship to you, you may have ground to cancel the contract; however, you would need to seek legal advice because as agents, we can't give legal advice.

You might also ask the agent if she would refer you to somebody else. If the agent is performing poorly, it could be her way of saying she doesn't want to continue working with you -- some people aren't straight forward and use passive / aggressive techniques to get a message across. Now, some agents also offer a 100% guarantee on their performance as well, so it's possible if you just ask the agent to let you go, she will do so.

If you haven't signed a contract with this agent, you are free to work with another agent anyway. But out of courtesy, you should tell your existing agent that you have decided to work with somebody else. And then get on with the business of buying a home.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 26, 2008
BEST ANSWER
Hi Sharon,
If you are using her as your buyers agent then chances are you do not have a written agreement. (This means you do not have any obligation contractually to work with her) I would suggest being upfront and honest with the agent. Either you can let her know that her services will not be needed anymore, or you can let her know that you will begin interviewing agents again.
When it comes to this business Sharon, all agents are not created equal. Buying a home is a major decision and you need someone on your side with experience that you can trust. If by chance you do have a contract with the agent, ask her to be let out of contract. Personally, I let my clients know up front that they can fire me anytime. It helps remind me that I am in the service industry and my job is to make sure my clients are satisfied with my business.
Good luck and have a great week!
-Alex
Web Reference: http://www.alexamaro.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 26, 2008
If in doubt.... Kick them out. Period don't even spend time asking the question. Firing an agent is pretty easy. And the minute you are not comfortable with one, you should fire them. Unless they are bringing you properties that are not on the market, or the best at negotiations (meaning you always get the price you offer) they are a dime a dozen. Any contract can be broken for this reason alone. Just give notice (fax) stating you are no longer in need of their services and any current/pending agreements are no longer valid and void.

I have been in the industry, been successful (40+ employees), and sold my company before the downturn. So trust me when I say you will spend more time on this project than you agent. So if you are not comfortable say bye-bye.

Keep this in mind... this person is making approx 3% of the cost of the purchase so approximately $3,000 for every $100,000. With a typical house selling at $500,000 that is $15,000. Lets say your agent puts 60hrs of total time into a purchase,thats looking at multiple properties, negotiating, closing etc.

Is your agent worth $375.00 an hour? Thats more than most lawyers charge.

I will give you some inside info now...
1.)All of the legal contracts, agreements your agent will use are avail online for ANYONE to access and use FREE. You just plug in your personal info and waala.
2.)Most tips on negotiating are avail online. And you can negotiate directly with the sellers agent and pay your self $375.00 for your time.
3.) You can look at homes without an agent by calling the listing agent in advance. (remember they are also making 3%)

But if not comfortable with doing it your self I tell everyone... "FIRE your agent and find another, immediately". This time before you sign with an agent ask for references demonstrating his/her ability to negotiate. Call those refences and make sure they are not personal friends who are making the agent sound unnecessarily good. And don't be afraid to ask the reference the tough questions like (how much money did the agent save them in the negotiation phase?)

I probably just made many people mad and defensive, but sometimes the truth hurts. Good luck in the house hunt. Its a great time to buy.
5 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 2, 2008
Sharon,

Take Michael's advice. (#2) It's the best yet. If you feel THE TINIEST BIT uncomfortable with your agent. Get rid of them. You're dealing with decisions costing 100's of thousands of dollars. On a $500,000 home the agent will most likely make $4,000 - $5,000. Not much of an incentive to really focus on your home.

Some agents are like frogs, they only really concentrate on the juiciest flies.

Try find an agent that isn't like a frog... tho you may have to kiss a few.

Agents always try to act like your best buddy, but once your house is sold... they're history!

Don't be swayed by emotions. Don't be swayed by how complicated they may make it seem.

See the curb? Get to kickin' girl!
3 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 2, 2008
That person did not make $375 per hour. she made zero dollars per hour.

If she had followed her clients instructions, kept them happy, and kept their confidence and trust she would have also made zero dollars per hour because that particular transaction was doomed to fail.

Good agents realize and accept that some transactions should be rescinded and facilitate the rescission in the interests of their principal and at the agents own immediate economic detriment, in the hopes that the client will maintain trust and do business with that good agent in the future.

Some buyers have a "learning curve" to go through, have an internal need to reject a property or two, until they feel that they are really getting what they want, are really getting a good deal and they have tested their agents loyalty and fiduciary care.

A good agent has to let the buyer control the process, even if they want to walk away from what the agent thinks is a good deal. Good agents don't sell every house they show and they don't close on every open escrow. If there is anyone who does that consistently, then they would be making $375 per hour.

Michael's math pretends that average agents make $500,000 per year ( $375 per hour )
I think that is pretty rare. Most make a fraction of that.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 2, 2008
Jim Walker, Real Estate Pro in Carmichael, CA
MVP'08
Contact
I usually tend to want to give a benefit of the doubt and wonder if a candid discussion with the agent might bridge a communication gap. In your dialog above, you have been direct in stating you don't trust her, and think she has not adequtately informed you, and I reread your post a few a times.

I read Elizabeth's answer and do agree wit her, to an extent. Often, buyers and sellers are quite unaware of the amount of work that an agent extends on their behalf behind the scenes. There are times when frank conversations can mend the tensions. I suspect from your post that you may be beyond discussions with your current agent.

If there is no salvage to the existing relationship, take it to the broker/manager. A managing broker will either take over the transaction personally, or assign another agent. If you are in the middle of negotiations, you need someone to pick up the ball where it is and move on it today.

It will lead to complications in your trnasaction if you were to try to simply go to another agent. Erin explained that that concerns over procuring cause.

Most broker/managers will be quite responsive and willingly assign a new agent upon request. While you will want to have your reasons concisely outlined, it is likely that you will find support, and assistance.

Good luck in the next steps and best wishes for a successful and smooth closing.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 26, 2008
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Red Bank, NJ
MVP'08
Contact
Sharon,

If you truly feel you're being mishandled, she plays tactics and her negotiation skills are weak ... then sit down, print out the dates with all of the times and places and any and all phone conversations .. call her broker and make an appointment for "today".

Be nice, be calm, be professional .. go through the list, have him sign a release, but don't use any of his/her services, brokers are like car dealers - they hate bad press. .... then go out and find 3 or 4 agents that work in the area, interview them, research their ties to the community, find what their production has been for their last 6/7 years, get referrals from each and call them all -- then go on.

-
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 26, 2008
Thx for the answers. In response to JR, our agent did not fight for us or guide us when the sellers only gave us 12 days to release contingencies, then the sellers demanded 5 % down at release of contingencies on a more than a half million dollar home (which we were not made aware of till the 12th day!)

She did not help us to bring down the price and infact was telling us to bid higher. finally we bid almost full asking price under the pressure that there was another offer coming in soon. Isn't Sacramento supposed to be a falling market? a buyer's market? What place did she think she was living in? Cupertino? Palo Alto? Ross?

Inspite of knowing that we were under pressure to perform in 12 days and that our loan was not finalised, she came in on the 12th day demanding the rest of the 4% check. When we wanted more time - atleast 3 days, she forced us to ask only 2 days saying that the seller was moving the 3rd day and wanted to make a decision soon. We were shocked - she was our agent but was behaving as if she was the seller's agent. She forced us to release the inspection contingencies though we were not happy with the repairs, rather than replacements we had asked for. She should have fought for what we wanted and not forced us to give into the seller's offer for repairs.

A HUGE disappointment. I am writing all this so other buyers should not get trapped by this type of realtor and to let these kind of realtors know how clients wish to be treated - with some respect!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 27, 2008
Have you signed a Buyer Broker Agreement? If so, read the language about terminating the agreement. generally, buyers' agents do not make their clients sign one of these - especially in the Bay Area, but some do, and there is some obligation. However, if you do not have a Buyer Broker agreement, just call her, leave her a message, or email her (even better) and tell her you are moving on to another agent. All the Best. Liz
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 26, 2008
This is a very dated thread but it is a question of substance that doesn't have time barriers.

There are times when people just know that it's best to move on and begin fresh. When lack of trust, excessive pressure, ability become issues of concern it may be time to make an adjustment.

You can elect to do this the right way or the wrong way. The wrong way is pulling the plug without dealing with the issues face-to-face with the agent. Both of you deserve the opportunity to air things out, expressing your concerns before moving on.

A good agent should try everything within their power to make things right and not lose you as a customer. The decision is yours...

Good luck,

Bill
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 12, 2013
For Minnie with the log home:

Are you not getting any showings at all? When does the listing expire? Did he give you a written marketing plan at the outset. You could call to review that with him, to see if he is doing everything he promised. BTW, log homes are harder to sell than frame houses, and harder to finance. A very salable log home is a contradiction in terms. It is one of the toughest types of houses to sell.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 12, 2013
Jim Walker, Real Estate Pro in Carmichael, CA
MVP'08
Contact
The agent we have does nothing to try to sell our home he never calls us unless we call him, we have a very sellable log home
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 5, 2013
so what do we do
Flag Sat Oct 5, 2013
Wow, I can't believe that someone gave "Alex Amaro" the best answer! He is completely incorrect. Yes, by law in most states, you absolutely can create an "Agency Relationship" by which the client is obligated to use that agent on their transaction. No, contracts don't have to be in writing to be enforceable. Just acting as one's agent and having that client let them, creates an agency relationship. So, Clients, please beware of uneducated "agents" like Alex Amaro. He does not understand the law that he is required to understand. Just hire a "broker" , which has much higher licensing requirements. Or, better yet, hire a broker with a bachelor's or MBA from a top school like myself. There's a reason why we took the initiative to get all these certifications and why we performed very well in the process. Cheers.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 26, 2011
"Keep this in mind... this person is making approx 3% of the cost of the purchase so approximately $3,000 for every $100,000. With a typical house selling at $500,000 that is $15,000. Lets say your agent puts 60hrs of total time into a purchase,thats looking at multiple properties, negotiating, closing etc. Is your agent worth $375.00 an hour? Thats more than most lawyers charge."

Hi Michael,
Can I come work for you where I only have to put in 60 hours per client and I get to keep the entire 3% commission? It sounds as though you were a broker. Did you not take a share of your agents' commissions? I know when all is said and done I get to keep less than half of that 3% commission and that's not including my out-of-pocket expenses like gas. I'm not complaining, I love my job. But I am not in this profession to get rich. Too many people think Realtors are rich and don't work hard to earn their pay. It's too bad a fellow broker would facilitate that image.

Anyway Sharon, you are the boss. Just make sure you haven't signed anything that would make you financially liable and fire away.
Web Reference: http://www.wnyhomevoice.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 2, 2008
I suggest that you contact her Broker at once and make him or her aware of the situation first. As a professional, that Broker should assist you in being released from your obligations.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 2, 2008
Thanks for your clarification, Sharon. Was she working for YOU as a buyer's agent? Either way, there is no excuse for not notifying you of the 5% down on release of contingencies till the last day.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 27, 2008
T-man has given you excellent constructive advice. It's non-judgemental, reasonable and solid.

The first step is to her managing broker, with concise, reasoned and documented complaints. Try to keep it professional and calm while backing up your concerns. The managing broker should be willing, given your concerns, to shift you to another agent in their office.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 26, 2008
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in Evanston, IL
MVP'08
Contact
Sharon, what is the basis of your problem with the agent? Why do you feel she only has her own best interest in mind? What pressure tactics has she used. Why do you not think she is on your side in the negotiations? IS she on your side? Have you signed an exclusive buyer agency agreement. If "your' agent is not YOUR agent then she cannot give you any guidance and must take the side of the seller. I need way more information than what you have given.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 26, 2008
Elizabeth gave you a great answer. Did you sign a representation agreement with this agent? One that is used by many agents is a "Non-Exclusive" agreement, meaning that this agent is authorized to represent you, however you are not married to this agent. If you did sign a representation agreement, the top of the first page will specify the type of representation agreement you signed. Hopefully if you did sign one, your agent explained the ramifications of the document to you.

If you signed this type of representation agreement, you should be free to use another agent, however I agree with Elizabeth - you should voice your concerns to this agent.

One thing I want to point out though is that if you do decide to engage another agent to purchase the same property "Agent A" is negotiating on your behalf, you may have a "procurring cause" issue. Agent A may be entitled to compensation in this event, even if Agent B writes a new offer on that property.

Another course of action if you do not get positive results after speaking with Agent A - try speaking with Agent A's managing broker (boss). He or she may be able to step in and assist you.

Good luck to you with your home search! Sorry you have gotten of to a frustrating start...
Web Reference: http://www.erinattardi.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 26, 2008
Erin Stumpf, Real Estate Pro in Sacramento, CA
MVP'08
Contact
If after speaking to your agent you are not happy with the results, the next step would be to go to her broker (boss). Call her office, ask to speak to the managing broker. It's likely that her supervisor will resolve the issue by transferring your transaction to another agent in the office or taking it over himself/herself. If that's not suggested as one of the options, you could ask that it be done.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 26, 2008
In Washington, most brokers would consider it bad business to try to force performance of either a listing or buyer contract. If you are justifiably trying to fire your agent for non-performance, his boss (broker/manager) should hear about it.

If you politely tell your agent that you feel the relationship is not working for you and she refuses to let you out of the contract or makes threats like wanting a commission when you do make a purchase, contact her broker directly and calmly and politely explain the situation.
Web Reference: http://www.homehounds.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 26, 2008
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