If I sign a listing contract with an agent but change my mind about selling when she brings an offer do I owe her a commission?

Asked by Interested Party, Bath Beach, Brooklyn, NY Sat Jun 9, 2012

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Sun Jun 10, 2012
It's your property, so of course you have a right to change your mind! You do not owe a commission if you don't accept any purchase offer.

I disagree with agents who are scolding you for changing your mind, or potentially doing so. Perhaps they have never owned real estate?, or experienced a change of heart or a change of life events? Eventually they will, and then I think they will be gentler.

You can terminate the listing agreement early, so can the brokerage in fact. The only thing you might owe the brokerage is damages for the money they spent on advertising. I don't think many brokerages try to collect on this, but I don't know.

Take out your listing agreement and read it. It probably says that if you sell to a buyer within X months of the agreement's ending that was introduced to the property by your agent, then you owe a commission. So, you can't terminate an agreement just to get out of paying a commission to a buyer the agent brought to you.

But that doesn't sound like your plan. So, simply call the brokerage office and ask to speak to the BROKER, or the MANAGER of the brokerage--Whoever is the one person in charge, there is always such a person, there must be by law. Then just tell that person your decision, and most likely they will say fine, and then they will ask you to sign a simple form and you'll be on your way, no money lost.

Karla Harby
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson
Rutenberg Realty
New York, NY
1 vote
logcabingal49, Home Buyer, 45660
Sun Jan 12, 2014
What if I did accept a purchase offer, can I still get out of the contract. Don't mind paying commission but want to follow the law.
0 votes
Luke Constan…, Agent, Brooklyn, NY
Mon Jun 11, 2012
It's your house, you don't want to seel, don't. Call the office where this agent works and ask them for an "Unconditional release" immediately, offer or not.
0 votes
Mitchell Fel…, Agent, Brooklyn, NY
Sun Jun 10, 2012
Dear Interested Party:

You need to discuss this with your attorney and also have your attorney look at the listing agreement you will be signing with the agent. Most listing agreement here in Brooklyn state that the commission is due when the deal is procured so to speak. In that case, theoretically, if you list your property and an agent brings you a full price offer with no contingencies, the agent has procured a meeting of the minds and could stake a claim to a commission even if you decide you do not want to sell the property after the fact.

That being said, I have been selling homes in Brooklyn since 1993 and I personally have never been paid a commission until we were at the closing table and the buyers were handed the keys and all the funds were delivered to the seller. Even if a real estate agent tried to sue a seller for a commission based on procuring a meeting of the minds, it is a hard lawsuit to win plus the potential buyer would have to be on board with the lawsuit.

Most of the time agents and buyers are not going to want to spend time, money and effort on such a lawsuit, unless there is blatant fraud on the seller's part. As a homeowner, when you list a property, you can always decide to take it off the market at anytime. If you get an offer for less than the asking price and decide to take it off the market, that is not a problem. The only time you may have an issue is if, as I stated previously, you are given a full price offer with no contingencies. Usually if that were to happen the owner would be so overwhelmed with happiness that they would just sell the place anyway!

Please note, I am not an attorney and cannot provide legal advise. As I stated in the beginning, you need to discuss this with an attorney if it is a concern. If I can be of further assistance, please let me know. Good luck!

Mitchell S. Feldman
Associate Broker/ Director of Sales
Madison Estates & Properties, Inc.
Office: (718) 645-1665/ Cell: (917) 805-0783
Email: MitchellSFeldman@aol.com
0 votes
Roland Vinya…, Agent, Sprakers, NY
Sun Jun 10, 2012
IF the offer the agent brings is full price and has no contingencies, then, legally, you do owe that agent a commission. Will he enforce his rights? Maybe. Maybe not.

I am not contradicting what others have correctly said, just adding another dimension to it.
0 votes
Madeline Pad…, Agent, Brooklyn, NY
Sat Jun 9, 2012
dear interested party

if you are unsure about selling then don't waste everybody's time, energy and money. It is possible
that a agent may sue you, but i doubt it. no you don't owe them a commission unless the deal actually closes and title changes to the new buyer. However, you must withdraw the property from
sale in writing. and you cannot sell it for I beleive 6 months. But if you do sell it to the person
that the agent brought the offer from YES you do owe a commission. When in doubt you can
always and should consult an attorney. However, most agents will tell you that you this upfront. After all they just want to WORK for you and have your best interests in mind.
0 votes
Gina Mazza, Agent, Staton Island, NY
Sat Jun 9, 2012
no, not unless you sell to that particular buyer after canceling contract.
0 votes
Martina Ryan, Agent, Bayside, NY
Sat Jun 9, 2012
It depends on the contract. Consult with your attorney.
0 votes
Anna M Brocco, Agent, Williston Park, NY
Sat Jun 9, 2012
If you are uncertain about selling, don't list your property and waste your time, your the agent's, and dally with the potential buyer(s); rather list when you are ready, need to sell, and know you are ready for the change. Generally commissions are paid at closing out of the proceeds of the sale, however have a discussion with your agent beforehand.
0 votes
Scott Godzyk, Agent, Manchester, NH
Sat Jun 9, 2012
Maybe... You shouldhave an attorney review your contract and your state law. You have signed a legal contract so legal advice is best when mioney is concerned.
0 votes
Ron Thomas, Agent, Fresno, CA
Sat Jun 9, 2012
I have heard that a lot from questioner; and I have experienced it too:

How can anyone, arrive at the point where they are committed to selling their house,

Abviously, they did not have the committment in the first place.

And what does this do to the Realtor who has already spent a lot of time and money, chashing the Clients whims?

What are we supposed to say: "That's Okay", "No problem"
0 votes
Shanna Rogers, Agent, Murrieta, CA
Sat Jun 9, 2012
Hi Interested Party,

I'm not sure about NY, but in CA the Realtor only receives commission if the property is sold - closes and Title transfers. Read the listing agreement you signed and let your Realtor know you want to cancel contract.

Shanna Rogers
SR Realty
0 votes
Hi Interested Individual,
Well, When the contract is consented between you and agent for a period of time, let's say six months you can not changed contract during time agreed with your agent. If you breach the contract, he or she may file sue against you.
Flag Sat Jun 9, 2012
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