How long is the average contract with a realtor, and how can you get out of a contract?

Asked by Sheryl, Abilene, TX Thu Jun 5, 2008

We listed our house with a realtor in March, the contract is up in December, I questioned the length of the contract she told me that it would be sold long before than, In the two months we have had one offer that was awful. The realtor acted like we should take the offer that it was a good one. The thing is the house is one year old in a up and coming neighborhood. We are not going to make any money( most of it going to the realtor) the buyer wanted us to come down on the price and pay 3,000. in closing we would have been in the hole on that one. Beside that we have had them call to show the house, we would tell them tomorrow would be better they show up anyway, Flyers were down for a open house with the description of someone elses house, the problems just keep coming. How do I get out of this contract?

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Chi Holder, , Houston, MO
Thu Jun 5, 2008
There is no average length for a listing contract. The length of the contract is up to you and your agent. In my area, for example, I know that I need at least 3 months (in a good market), and realistically, it will take 6 months or more in my area with the current buyer's market to sell a property. As for getting out of your contract, I would first call the broker and ask for a different agent in the office.
My company gives a guarantee if someone signs for 6 months. The seller may fire me at any time if I do not perform a list of duties. In our contracts, I have a list of duties I am to perform.
If you're still not happy with a differenty agent, then you can ask the broker to release you from your contract, siting the sevices and duties she failed to perform. The only way out if she won't release you is to go to a lawyer.
I suggest you sit down and have a heart to heart with your agent (or new agent?) Ask her to show you a CMA and explain to you what is happening in your market. Ask to see competing homes, and see if she has any suggestions for improving your house so that it is more competitive with the homes in your neighborhood. Your agent is not just listing your home, he or she is there to guide you through the process and to be honest with you about the state of the market in your area. I hope this helps you!
2 votes
Maggie Arnold, Agent, Denton, MD
Thu Jun 5, 2008
To answer your question, the listing agreement you signed should outline how you can get it cancelled. In my area listings are normally for a year. However, there is a clause that states it can be cancelled 30 days after receiving a written request from the seller requesting cancellation.
0 votes
Keith Sorem, Agent, Glendale, CA
Thu Jun 5, 2008
I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there is a good chance that offer is one you should have taken.
The buyer that first sees the home they purcahse sees it with a Realtor 90% of the itme. So, if you are not getting any showings, that tdoes not mean the Realtors are on vacation. It means that are showing other properties that they and their buyers perceive to offer more value.

Check it out yourself. Ask you r Realtor to provide you with a list of homes, like yours, that have sold or went into escrow since your home hit the market. You do thinik other homes have sold, don't you?

So, that being the case, the real question is this.: Why didn't the Realtor show YOUR home? Is ithe Realtor's fault? Most Realtors want to get their listings sold, so they promote them, put them in the MLS, talk with other agents? Did you Realtor suggest that you lower the price?

Homes that sell in the first 30 days of market time sell closest to asking price. Homes, in my MLS, at 120 days, sell for 93.6% of asking...that's AFTER a couple of price reductions.

In MOST cases, homes fail to sell because they are not properly priced. The market willl not let a property be sold under market value. In our market (a big time buyer's market with home values declining 20-30% this year), we have about 20% of the homes selling with multiple offers. The other 80% are overpricded and sit there. The 20% are selling in 2-4 weeks, the others are AVERAGING 140 days on the market...and loosing value because the market is declining.

One last comment on open houses..they are primarily for Realtors to attract buyers. Very few times is a home sold from an open house...not to say that they sholud not be held, but if a property is over-pricded, more open houses will not help.
0 votes
Our realtor totally over priced our home and after coming down $30,000 he wanted us to come down another $10,000 and now says he will not renew for a month. Going to sell it myself.
Flag Sun Aug 28, 2016
This was obviously written by a real estate agent. Read Freakonomics about how real estate agents hang onto their properties much longer and they sell at a much higher price than what they encourage their "clients" to do. They're mostly hustlers with a tie.
Flag Sat May 9, 2015
Kathlene Der…, , 07470
Thu Jun 5, 2008
Being a Realtor in Northern New Jersey, our listings are not less than 6 months. Since we are in a depreciating market at this time, it is taking longer to sell homes. Our clients understand this and some even sign up for 1 year. At Coldwell Banker, we have a Sellers Service Guarantee, which helps clients who may be unhappy with their agent or their expectations of the listing process. The situtation is brought to the broker's attention and if the situation can't be made right, the broker will let them out of the listing. Almost all of the time, the broker can resolve the sellers issues.
0 votes
Being a broker in Northern NJ ..I have a house up for sale now .. its been 2 weeks.. The house was first overpriced ,, after looking at other homes in the area ..I suggested we lower the price right away ( 9 days later by 20,000) The house is getting ALOT of views online .. and tour factory in the top 5 ..BUT no showings .. the realtor??
Flag Thu Oct 23, 2014
Michael Stra…, Agent, Stafford, VA
Thu Jun 5, 2008
Sheryl, it sounds like you have a lack of trust with your Realtor. So much of the communication between you and your Realtor is a collaboration of efforts. Most sellers are not happy these days but do find satisfaction in knowing their Realtor is doing the best they can. The Realtor is not responsible for the market and cannot control the market. The market is larger and more powerful than all of us. For some sellers, it is just not the right time to sell a property. Especially if you have only been in the house for a year. I have been in real estate for over 20 years and the typical scenario is you must live in a house for a couple of years before you can expect to recoop the costs just to sell it again. Real estate is not meant to be a liquid investment and over my lifetime has been a passive and steady appreciation. In latter years, people have expected to be able to retire on their real estate gain or at least pick up a quick twenty thousand. We are in a more conservative market now. In the long run we will probably return to the 3% - 7 % appreciation per year we have seen over the decades. In your particular case, where your trust is faltering, maybe you should ask for a meeting with the broker and the agent and look at the facts. If you still not feel you can communicate well with the agent, ask that another agent within the firm be assigned to your transaction.
0 votes
Candy Cargill, Agent, Blanco, TX
Thu Jun 5, 2008
Sheryl, I am really sorry you are having so much trouble, please don't let this affect your opinion of the real estate profession. The listing term, like the price and the fee you pay is negotiable. I find that anywhere from 3 to 6 months is the normal depending on the area and type of property. A couple of others have said the same thing, read your agreement, even the fine print, there should be a way for you to cancel your listing with this firm. Call the broker in charge, you may have listed it with one of the agents in the office, but the listing is taken in the name of the broker, it is that broker who is ultimately responsible to you for the way it has been or hasn't been marketed. I have seen listing agreements that allow the seller to cancel but charge an administrative fee, I don't agree with it, but they are out there. I totally agree with Jim in that I would not want to hold someone to a listing agreement if they are not happy with my work. That broker is working FOR YOU, and you are paying him, remember that ,and remind him if need be.
0 votes
Ron Shanks, Agent, Clinton, MO
Thu Jun 5, 2008
If you feel you are not being represented by the terms of your listing agreement you should be able to cancel the agreement. In my state what you are describing to me sounds like the Listing company has not complied with the terms of the listing agreement. Read your agreement & see if you can understand what I am saying. The open house flyer with the wrong property is enough in my state. Every state has different Real Estate Laws to follow. The average time for a listing agreement is 3 months in my state. There is no set rule on the listing time period, although I prefer 6 months depending on the activity in the market.
0 votes
Jim Penningt…, Agent, Pensacola, FL
Thu Jun 5, 2008
Sheryl, listing agreements vary from state to state, but most contain the same basic provisions and generally are for 6 months.. As Pam said, it is a legally binding contract. Review your listing agrement and determine what provisions there are for cancelling. Some agents and brokers charge a cancellation fee or an administrative fee and that should be listed in the agreement. Many agents (but not all) will agree to cancel a listing agreement if requested. I know I would not want to force someone to work with me if they were dissatisfied with me. The questions are whether there will be some sort of fee or whether you can re-list with someone else. And as Pam suggests, talk with the agent's broker and express your concerns and see what you can work out. Good luck!
0 votes
Jim Johnson, , 78233
Thu Jun 5, 2008
You should first contact your broker with your complaints about the agent. If the broker does not address your objections satisfactorily, you may get relief or guidance through your local board of REALTORS or your state's regulatory agency. As a last resort, you should consult with an attorney.
0 votes
Pam Scott, Agent, Waxahachie, TX
Thu Jun 5, 2008
The listing agreement that you signed is a legal contract. You need to contact the real estate agents broker and express your concerns. You may terminate the listing agreement but most of the time the broker will only agree to withdraw the house off the market, meaning it will not be in MLS but no other agent will be allowed to list the house either. The average time a listing agreement is valid is 6 months. Again, call the agents broker and express your concerns, they may be able to reassign the listing to an agent that you will be happy with.
0 votes
Is this accurate? That once a listing is taken off by an agent due to a Seller's request that it can not be listed again by another agent? This doesn't sound right to me. Please explain.
Flag Fri Nov 30, 2012
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