Can you cancel a real estate contract with your realtor if you are unhappy with their services?

Asked by Hopeful, McAlester, OK Mon Jun 22, 2009

From day one I have been unhappy with my realtor from getting no feedback at all after 15 or so showings and now with an offer that fell thru because their "assistance" on closing costs fell through and they have no money. I had signed a contract on another home after being told repeatedly there was nothing to worry about and am heartbroken that I will possibly lose the home we paid $5k towards. The realtor's response was "I never heard of anyone buying a home after just 1 week of signing a contract" and other flippant remarks. I paid $300 to bring the abstract up to date and two days later I get an email (Not a phone call) saying that everything was off and simply a "sorry". This couple also only put up $250 escrow money (we put up $1000 5yrs ago) which we didn't learn about until the contract was presented to us and when I asked about that she said "Well, you didn't have to sign it". Everything was verbal between us until the sales contract was signed. Is this normal?

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Deborah Hopk…, , Ada, OK
Tue Jun 23, 2009
This breaks my heart.

First of all, speak with the Broker. There is no "If [the Realtor] aren't willing to do it then...." We are all agents for, and acting on behalf of our Broker. As an Agent, we do not have the authority to release you. The Broker does, and should. You should have the freedom to list with anyone you want to.

That 60-or-so-days that was mentioned here, where you would still have to pay the commission is designed to protect the Broker, when the homeowner pulls the house off the market. For example, your Realtor shows the house, and has an interested buyer. You want to work out a deal with the buyer, and avoid the commission, so you pull the house off the market. Depending on your contract, you might still have to pay the commission. This generally does not apply when moving from one Realtor to another. Why? Because, we can still bring a buyer, and receive a commission (although, not as much).

If the buyer does not have their financing secured, that is a contingency on the contract. Contingent, or dependant on, means there are still loopholes, and the Realtor should caution you on doing anything (like the abstract), until those contingencies are removed. Sure, the contract could fall apart at the closing table, but without contingencies, it is less likely. The standard timeframe for removing contingencies, inspections, etc, is 10 days, although it can be whatever both parties agreed to.

Why was this Realtor not used in your new home purchase? It is easier for the Realtor to help you with both. When something gets off track with one, she can immediately adjust the other one, so it is as seemless as possible for you. Find a Realtor who you really like, and seems to care about your needs. Found a Realtor you really click with, but he doesn't seem to have the knowledge of the last one you spoke with? Talk to his Broker. Be honest. Tell him that you want to work with him, and why, but you want him to stay in consultation with his Broker, who has the bulk of the experience. Be polite, but don't worry about hurting his feelings. We know why people can be skittish about Realtors, and completely understand.

Just like in any other industry, there are bad ones out there....but there are good ones too. I've never understood why people just call the listing agent on the sign, on every property they are interested in. It is well worth it to find a Realtor who is right for you, and staying with them for all your real estate needs. That may sound like a marketing line, but it will minimize stories like this.

Hopefully, you can salvage the contract on the home you really want. There is a chance to get the first-time homebuyer's tax credit up front now (in the form of a short term loan). Maybe, the buyers could tap into that. Good luck!
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Saundra Allm…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Mon Jun 22, 2009
In real estate with proper representation by qualified professional real estate agent, once in contract all changes must be in writing. This is California real estate policy, and verbal communications do not hold up. FAx, email, and written communication will. I am not familiar with Oklahoma real estate laws. In California, when a client is unhappy, one can cancel the contract in writing. I do know of some brokers that kept the contract until it ran it's lengh of time and expired. But really no need to do that, as costly as it is to market and work hard to procure acceptable offers for seller. And in this economy we really work to be successful. Our real estate markets are slow moving and we have to work harder than ever to bring the qualified interested buyer to the table. If you feel negligience or lack of skill first send a letter in writing. If no success, seek a real estate attorney in your area for further consultation and real estate advice for your state's real estate law and policies. I would think it would would be much simpler to cancel the contract with a release of contract form signed by professional real estate broker and move on. Before you do this, consult with your broker, it may be you nedd to have communication of how you would like to be informed more often and to market for preapproved buyers only for your property as you are a contingent buyer of another property. Ask your agent to counter such low earnest money deposits to increase them to a more reasonable risk amount to show good faith to follow through with the process to the close of escrow. If your buyer is preapproved already, that is half the battle and they can close much qucker than a buyer just starting the process. If accepting contracts that are not prequalified, you dont know if they have the purchasing power to purchase your your home with qualifications for the value of your list price.
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"MICHAEL" Is…, Agent, Aventura, FL
Mon Jun 22, 2009
Yes you can cancel with your Realtor if you are unhappy .From reading your side of the story it look like that your Realtor do not understand the importance of keeping the seller inform at all time. My first priority as a Realtor is that my clients are completely satisfied with my service. Anyhow, I have clients from 10 year’s ago that still remember me and refer me their friends and family. That is what all about ,working for the future!
I hope that all will work for you in the best way.
Michael Israel Benichay
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Jace Thoreson, , Edmond, OK
Mon Jun 22, 2009
To answer the question about everything being verbal until the sales contract was signed being normal. It's not exactly the best practice because until it is written it's not binding. And if you are talking about what you want to do, or don't want to do and you both agree, but forget to write it down then that agreement is now open to he said, she said. But that being said it happens a lot, especially when the buyers/sellers are not local or there have been several counters back and forth between the two parties.

On the earnest money $500 is common for homes $200,000 or less and $1,000 is pretty common above that. But there is no requirement on the amount put up for earnest money. It basically comes down to what the seller is willing to accept as earnest money, as it can always be increased in a counteroffer.

As far as cancelling the contract with the Realtor, it depends. If they are with Century 21 and they signed the sellers service pledge then with a written notice and 3 days to correct the issues to your satisfaction you are released from the contract. If they didn't use the sellers service pledge, or they are with a different firm and then you can still make them release you, but there are 2 types of release. They can release you with conditional or unconditional, if they do the conditional release it usually has in that the new Realtor/Licensee will pay them a referral fee, closing percentage, etc. If they do unconditional then there are no strings attached and you can use whoever you would like to sell your home. That being said, most times if you talk with the Realtor and tell them you are not happy with their services and would like to be released normally they will release you unconditionally. If they aren't willing to do it then I would call and talk with the broker, explain why you want to be released and that should do the trick. Just pay attention to if it's the conditional or unconditional release they provide you with.

I hope I've answered all your questions. If you need a good Realtor for your area let me know.
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Dean Schrock, , 74074
Mon Jun 22, 2009
Yes, you certainly can cancel the contract!!! When I list a clients house I explain to them that I am not working for this one sale....I want them to be a client for life. If you are not happy with the work they are doing you can withdraw the listing and list with another Realtor. Many times in a contract it will say that if you sell the house within 6 months you would still owe them a commission. Every Office works diffferently as to what that time frame would be.

Your best bet would be to talk with the Broker in the office and let them know you are frustrated with the listing agents services and if you could switch Realtors within the office or withdraw the listing.

I wish you the best of luck and if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask.

Dean Schrock
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