Home Selling in 29730>Question Details

Jennifer G, Home Seller in Charlotte, NC

We're unhappy with listing agent, and he won't release us from contract and says we can't even de-list our house.

Asked by Jennifer G, Charlotte, NC Tue Sep 22, 2009

In June we signed a 6-month "exclusive right to sell agreement" with a local agent-owner we used 2x before as buyer's agent and once as seller's agent on a rental property. We listed with him out of loyalty, and after 3.5 months we are thoroughly disappointed. His emails are rare and brief. He has no suggestions on curb appeal, photographing, basic staging tips (his answer is, "There are no buyers so there is no point in doing any of that.") I've been running my own Facebook or Craigslist ads (likely buyer for this house is 22-32); he dismisses them as useless even though we bought a $300K house after seeing it on Craigslist. When I went to speak to him about the contract he was combative - the first thing he said is, "It's a legally binding contract and you can't break it." He went on to argue with me about everything I brought up. He said we couldn't de-list our house. I would rather de-list for 3 months than give him a dime. We are in SC. He owns his business. What can we do?

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While I am a Realtor® and not an attorney, we are on shaky ground with your problem. So, my first recommendation to you would be to contact a local real estate attorney (maybe even one that you have closed a transaction with in the past and ask him/her what you should do).

I also understand that properties are not moving as quickly as they have in the past, which is disappointing. During times like this, it's wise to get creative and aggressive in marketing techniques. However, getting aggressive and combative with the property owner is not included in the marketing scheme. The two of you should be working as a team, but it sounds like all of your communication has completely broken down. Too bad for this agent. It sounds like he had a lifetime customer!

That all said, and assuming that you have a standard issue South Carolina Exclusive Right to Sell Listing Agreement, I would simply tell the agent that you think that he is not performing to the expectations that you had of him when you signed the listing agreement as per paragraph 6. under the Broker's Duty: Broker agrees to employ the best efforts of Broker and Broker's agents and staff to secure a contract for sale for the described property upon such terms as may be agreeable to Owner. (There is more to this paragraph. You should read all of it.) The bottom line is that an agent should have the client's best interests in mind and not his own. He should also be making some efforts to evoke a sale, but doesn't sound like he is doing that.

Lot's of people withdraw their homes from the market for all kinds of different reasons. I would send him a certified letter if he is not responsive on the phone and tell him that you have decided to take the home off of the market. Tell him that you would like him to update it's status on the MLS to reflect that it has been withdrawn and please come and pick up his sign and remove his lockbox. Then you may have to wait it out until the contract officially ends (assuming that he won't release you and/or what your attorney recommends). Once your time is up you can re-list should you choose.

If none of this gets through to the agent, and he continues to be unresponsive, I would contact the local Board of Realtors (either Piedmont or Charlotte depending upon which one he is a member) and file a complaint. Your contract, probably, has a Mediation Clause under paragraph 21. of the Exclusive Right to Sell Listing Agreement, as a guideline to settle any disputes between you and the listing agent.

I hope it all works out for you and don't forget the most important part of my message, contact an attorney.


Ross Harkness, Realtor®/SC Builder
Wilkinson and Associates Real Estate
Palmetto Property Pros Team
Office/Cell (803) 372-8867
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 22, 2009

It's unfortunate that you are working with an agent that seems to be unreasonable and unresponsive to his clients.

After speaking with an attorney about your options, you may suggest to your listing agent that you would like to be referred to another agent and company that could better serve your needs. This could provide an easy out for both of you. He could still have an oppportunity to earn a referral fee if your home sells with the agent you are referred to. He may ask which company or agent you are interested in and initiate the process. Ultimately you get the result you are looking for. This option should save you a lot of stress and time - not to mention the costs associated with attorneys and possible court costs.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 14, 2009

That is such a horrible move by a realtor. If you are truely unhappy and speak to him about it, you should be able to get out of the contract.

As far as delisting the home. It is now november and it might not be bad to relist in the spring. Most likely the tax credit will be extended and also include step up buyers which could help you come spring market.

Please give us an update and let us know how it is going.

Sean Dawes
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 1, 2009
You have received some very good answers - I particularly like the one about raising the price and demanding 48 hours notice. While this won't get your house sold very quickly - it will send your realtor
a message.

Other responses were equally good and you need to explore all of them. As far as contacting a
lawyer - FOLKS let's get real - lawyers can offer advice, but by no means do they give good advice.
They can just tell you what the law says - that is all which is why I like good common sense responses.
Lawyers look for litigation which pays their bills and costs everyone money.

You just have to spend the time and document everything and then report this realtor to the board of
realtors where he is licensed and with the State of South Carolina where he has to get his license renewed.
Video tape everything - demand to be present with the showings (if any), audio tape your conversations and
send correspondence by mail with notification to prove receipt. Let him know that you are going to make his life difficult if he does not want to cut you from the contract. Nag, Nag, Nag...... within normal business hours. Demand documentation of what he maintains that he has done and give a list of all showings by a certain date. Do what you would pay a lawyer to do on your behalf.

Last, but not least, enlist friends to tell you what they think of your house and pricing. I have news for everyone - there was an article in the WSJ this past weekend on real estate and pricing - FOLKS we are looking at 2000 prices - alittle more if you have done extensive improvements or this is what you paid for new construction. However, if you purchased your house for $180K and now expect to realize a profit just by owning - you will not sell your house today, tomorrow, or a year from now; maybe five years from today. Houses with location, location, location are having trouble selling and with tens of thousands of upgrades. Be a buyer and look around at your competition and pricing. Take off the blinders and wake up. Prices have not held up.

One last problem is that people do not have money for a down payment. Guess what? That means that all of the buyers have left the market. We are heading back to the days - good ole days - when people really had to market their houses and it took a huge effort to get it done.

Good luck - it is a really bad market. It just takes time more time and someone with money to get the mortgage....... Obviously your real estate agent got used to people walking in and just pointing at a house.
Those days are long gone and will never return (at least for 50 years). Read history. Today realtors really have to work to get a listing sold and they need to search for people with money.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 1, 2009
As a SC Realtor it is my understanding that when a seller signs an exclusive right to sell listing agreement I am essentiaslly employed by the seller. If the seller is unhappy with my performance he can terminate the agreemant in writing. This is a two way street, the agent also can terminate the agreement in wirting. I would definintelly discuss your situation with an attorney and then act in accordance with his guidance.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 25, 2009
You have taken the first step of talking with the agent, second step would be to talk with the broker of the company about the situation (however, you indicated he is the owner). Last step is to review your contract and see what legal action you might be able to take.

I would try and set up another appointment with him to discuss your concerns. It is possible that the day you spoke with him about the contract was not a good day for him (doesn't excuse behavior), but we are all humans who don't always respond correctly.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 22, 2009
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