Susan F: Your agent should have told you where she stands with you. It may be that you have seen all that there is to see in your price range in the area(s) that are acceptable to you. She may be willing to show you stuff that is new to the market.
Having said that, I'm afraid that Paul Howard is basically, if somewhat brutally, correct. This industry is not Macy's. We don't get paid to handle customers at the counter. Our only compensation comes when we sell a property. While most buyers do not pay a commission, (the seller allows his agent to split the selling commission with the buyer's agent) you should be aware that a buyer's agent will get NO commission on a house that is listed by another where he or she does not bring forth the buyer.
While you yourselves have been fairer than many buyers and stuck with your agent, an awful lot of buyers take up their buyerâ€™s agent's time and gas and then switch to whomever is handy when they see something that excites them. This leaves the buyer's agent with no compensation after working hard for the buyer.
As you can see, the business model seems to be less than perfect but it has been in place for a long time.
Now, to answer your question: I believe that you should write a little note to your agent, even though you have no contract with her, telling her that you will be working with someone else in the future. Next, you should shop around for an EXPERIENCED agent who has the time to work with you. Sign them to a three-month contract as buyer's agent. That's short enough to be able to get out from under but long enough to get some serious looking done. Step three is to get FULLY prequalified in TODAY'S mortgage market. No sense looking beyond your means, it will just spoil your perspective and you may miss something nice that is not as "toney" as you'd really be able to afford. Step four: write up a list of what you need in a home. Then another is what you'd like. Share it with your Realtor. Step five: Give your Realtor feedback ON EVERY home you see. Let him/her know exactly why it isn't what you want. "It's not my dream house,â€ IS NOT an acceptable answer. Only fairy princesses live in dream castles. What you need is a snug harbor for when the winds blow. (And maybe a place to store Uncle Bert and Aunt Emma when they come in from Seattle.)
Meet with your agent in their office as often as you have to, to exchange information about what you've seen and what impact that has had on your criteria. Your present arrangement may have soured because the agent is at her wits end trying to imagine ANYTHING that might please you.
Remember: This is YOUR search, not your agent's. He or she is a tool in the process. Like all good tools, they should be respected and used properly. Failing to keep them from rusting away or getting dull is part of your job as much as it is theirs. You have to train them to see things that you are looking for. Shandu the magician could pull up the card that you were thinking of but retired from the real estate business and is now appearing on the nightclub circuit.