Can you get out of a contract with a realtor for selling a house?

Asked by Lori, Massachusetts Wed Jan 16, 2008

We signed a contract with a realtor to list our house. However, some of the verbal promises she made have not panned out in terms of the marketing, etc. that she would be doing. In addition, I feel my questions do not get answered and we hear very little back from her. Is there any way to get out of this contract?

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Michael Krot…, Agent,
Wed Jan 16, 2008
Hi Lori,

Sorry to hear about your experience with your Realtor. It sounds like you are not happy with the level of service you have been receiving and would like to explore your options.

My first response would be to have a talk with your Realtor and try to resolve the issues amicably (I would like to give a fellow Realtor the benefit of the doubt), but if this doesn't work or you don't think this is a path you want to travel down here are the facts.

The listing contract of your home is owned by the broker of the office your Realtor is working for. Technically, they do not have to release you from the contract if they do not want to, but in my experience, they want to leave their client's satisfied. You can call up your agent's broker (his boss) directly and voice your concerns to him. It is not uncommon for listings to be switched to another agent within the same office when friction like this arises between agent/client.

The second option is ask for a release from the listing contract all together. Although the broker is not obligated in anyway to do this, many times they will to avoid any further ill feelings from an unhappy client. At this point you would be able to re-list your home with another Realtor, keeping in mind some of the clauses in your original contract that pertain to whoever visited your home during the time your original Realtor had the home listed.

Does this help?
2 votes
Alan May, Agent, Evanston, IL
Thu Feb 7, 2008
I'm not sure that a lawyer is necessary at this stage. As everyone has suggested, I think the first thing to do is contact the managing broker and explain your frustration with this agent. The managing broker may have a few options for you.

It's possible she may be able to switch you to a different agent within her office, who will be a better fit, and give you the service you're looking for. It's also possible that due to your poor experience, thus far, with her agency, she might be able to throw some "perks" your way to make up for the poor service (perhaps some additional advertising they weren't planning to do, or maybe a commission reduction).

If she can't satisfy you, the likelihood is that she'll be willing and able to cancel your contract with her agency. Most good agencies do not want to have unhappy clients. A happy client will tell a friend or two about their wonderful experience. An unhappy client will tell every person they meet, every day of the week, and nobody benefits from that.

Good luck, and I hope you can work something out.
1 vote
John Savigna…, Agent, Hopkinton, MA
Wed Jan 16, 2008
I agree with Michael, try to resolve the situation first and speak with the managing Broker. Also, if you do get to the point of canceling the contract, it must actually be cancelled and not just withdrawn. In my area a withdrawn from the market listing, the contract is still in effect.

1 vote
James.t.ande…, Home Buyer, Hopkinton, MA
Mon Oct 23, 2017
Hi, what do you do to get out of a seller's contract when your realtor owns the brokerage/company and there is no way of getting her to sign off on ending the contract because she is completely unavailable? Without getting into all of the details the realtor is now in prison and I imagine the company will soon fold in her absence. Do we just have to wait until the listing expires or is there another way out? Maybe something similar to when a broker dies? The contract we signed does not say anything about canceling the agreement, it just says any changes must be "signed off on by the seller and broker". Considering this is impossible, what do we do?
0 votes
Kim Gallagher, , Irwin, PA
Thu Sep 21, 2017
I have done exactly as suggested here. I have a realtor who is a clueless in technology. My properties are not being included in outgoing notifications, some searches, map searches, etc. I've clearly shown my realtor the problems and even offered to troubleshoot with technical support myself. She refuses to include the surveys, map numbers, or coordinates with my 4 vacant properties even though I've provided all of that electronically. I've contacted her office manager and she is just as rude and ignorant as her employee. They both said I can not cancel the contract. Berkshire Hathaway btw if you are wondering. My next steps is to file a complaint with the PA licensing board unless one of you have a better suggestion.
0 votes
Bridgetwesto…, Home Buyer, Hopkinton, MA
Sat Sep 9, 2017
I signed a contract with a friend to show my house without listing it. She showed it 4 or 5 times and we decided to quit showing it until after the 1st of the year. I did sign something with her at the time. I didn't get a copy, my fault. But now, the house is not listed and never has been. My neighbor's parents now want my house without a realtor, we have been talking on and off since my husband died 4 years ago. Am I obligated to use my friend even tho it has never been on MLS? Help
0 votes
Sales, Home Buyer, Hopkinton, MA
Tue Aug 1, 2017
I have that same issue, someone offered 25k less than market value and relator ok with it. Is that very common for buyer to make such lower offer? Should I process to make another offer or just not to deal with?
0 votes
$25,000. less and your realtor is OK with it??? Something is VERY fishy with this and I'm a recently retired realtor so I know something is going on. Here's my thoughts:

1. Your realtor is desperate for a commission check and knows the $25K offer is too low but can't wait to see if a higher offer comes in. The thought of getting paid now instead of waiting is very tempting. Your realtor must be behind on his/her bills. Ask your realtor about their finances.
2. Your realtor just got their license fairly recently and doesn't have a network of buyers interested in your home. The first buyer that is making a serious offer, is the one because your realtor has no clue if another buyer will come along with a higher offer. Ask your realtor what year he/she got their license.
3. Your realtor "BOUGHT" your listing. This means that some realtors are desperate to get a listing that they will convince the seller / owner that they can sell your home for a higher price when in reality,
Flag Tue Aug 1, 2017
Christopher…, Agent, Tarrytown, NY
Sun Jun 15, 2014
Always get promises in writing. As for the contract, you will have to read the language in the contract to know what right you have. You can also call her principal broker if need be.

0 votes
claudiarudin, Home Buyer, Hopkinton, MA
Sat Jun 14, 2014
how do you get out of a contract with a buyer. I have already signe the contract
0 votes
Robert Moore, Home Seller, Lake Charles, LA
Sat Apr 20, 2013
My parents have place their home on the market with a local realtor and wish to get out of the contract, the reason is that right now, if the were to sell, pay off what the owe on the home they will not have the money to buy or even rent another place. They are paying less than $400.00 per month right now, and they are both older and on a fixed income and have a hard time like it is. They could never find a place as nice as what they have now to buy or even rent for $400.00 a month. Can the got out of the contract before it is too late?
0 votes
Tom and Joan…, Agent, Boston, MA
Mon Mar 22, 2010
Yes. You should contact your agents owner broker and have a discussion with them. I would allow the broker the opportunity to make things right, but if they can not then ask them to cancel the contract and release you. Best
0 votes
Richard Alan…, , Riverside County, CA
Sat Mar 6, 2010
Yes…if your grievance is a righteous one, then the golden rule is applied i.e.” treat others as you would be treated”. Agents live by the moral and ethical codes and not by litigation and contracts unless they have their place. Our purpose is to serve our clients needs and our client is the best judge of that. If there is no resolution, then all must go their way. However, be mindful that time, effort, and money was spent on your behalf regardless of what you experienced. Think eating out and when the time comes, how much tip will you leave. Leaving no tip is not proper. The tip should send a message and so it is with your cancelling of this agreement. If there is anytime type of compensation due, address it. Your agent, who will be reluctant to move on, will move on and that may be in the interests of all concerned. Reason it out, work it out, and/or you can both move on.
0 votes
Bill Gassett, Agent, Hopkinton, MA
Tue Dec 8, 2009
It absolutely amazes me that Realtors from other states that have no idea about Massachusetts contract law stick their head out and try to answer a question like this. The only one that answered this question properly is Mark. A contract is a legally and binding agreement otherwise there would be no point in having one. In regards to Lori's question the only way she can get out of the contract is if there is something in the document that specifies why she would be able to break it.
0 votes
Christopher…, Agent, Woburn, MA
Tue Jan 27, 2009
Do you have an offer on the home? Have you had activity or open houses?
0 votes
Gary De Pury, , Pasco County, FL
Fri Feb 15, 2008

You asked if you can get out of a contract. Well, Yes, you can. What I think you mean to ask us….. is it going to hurt… could. It may be costly, but every state is the same in one aspect. Our Listing agreements are written in such a manner that they can be understood and interpreted without an attorney. So your first step is to read the contract.

Is there a cancellation clause? What are the terms?

What does it say about Brokers duties to the client?

What is the time period? Are you able to wait the additional 1,2,3 or more months?

Are you able to reach the Broker of the company and request another agent?

Answer those basic questions and then your answer should be as plain as the for sale sign in your front yard.

Gary De Pury
Bay Vista Realty & Investments, Inc.
Chairman, Communications Committee
Director, Florida Association of REALTORS
0 votes
Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Thu Feb 7, 2008
These are not the kiind of reports true real estate professionals want to hear. We agree with the earlier comment about contacting the managing broker who may have the authority to let an unsatisfied customer our of their contract but most contracts will bave a penalty clause for breaching the contract.

Sorry about your negative experience,
The "Eckler Team"
Century 21Almar & Associates
Venice, Fl 34285

0 votes
Mark Tavenner, , 01450
Thu Feb 7, 2008
Lori I would consult a lawyer . The word contract is a term for binding. I have been in the real estae game over 25 years I have seen a great deal of problems that can be worked out with the company manager or even try the board of realtors. Every contract is not the same.
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0 votes
Irena, , Newton, MA
Wed Jan 16, 2008
You can definitely get out of the contract if you are not happy with your Realtor, be aware of the fine print and read the contract carefully though. In most instances the listing broker is entitled to a compensation if they were the procuring cause that results in the sale.
Just like Michael had said, try to resolve it with your realtor first before you talk to the broker. Even if it hurts our feelings we do like to know why are our clients dissatisfied and why they want out of the contract. Perhaps you can work it out with your realtor. If not than go to the office manager and try to resolve it with him/her.
If you have further difficulties than go to the local Realtor board and complain, but most Real - estate companies are professional enough so that does not happen.
Before you sign with another agent be sure to put your concerns and what you expect in writing as an addendum to the contract, therefore if there is a contract breech you can get out without much fuss.
Everything is negotiable and so is the contract. Do not ever feel intimidated by it.
0 votes
Belinda Arro…, , 02038
Wed Jan 16, 2008
I am sorry about your misfortune. I always offer an easy exit agreement with my clients. Also I establish one particular day of the week that I will call my client. Try going directly to the realtor to find out if they and their office is willing to let you out of the contract. If not, look at this incident as a lesson learned.
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0 votes
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