George Rey, Both Buyer and Seller in San Francisco, CA

can a seller change his mind after signing a right to sell listing agreement within 3 days?

Asked by George Rey, San Francisco, CA Fri Oct 7, 2011

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Jed Lane, Agent, Petaluma, CA
Sat Oct 8, 2011
T'he contract signed is between the listing brokerage and the seller. If the seller want to end the contract they can ask to be let out and most of the time the broker will allow it because they don't want to fight to enforce a contract like that. Imagine forcing a seller to sell or pay fees when they'd changed their minds, the brokerage wouldn't be in business for long.
On the other hand if the seller wants out of the contract because a buyer has approached them with an offer to buy but only if the broker is removed from the picture the broker might decide to fight for its fees.
Consult with an attorney anytime you want to break a legally binding enforceable contract, which is what a listing agreement is as soon as both parties have signed.
1 vote
Kevin Ho, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Mon Oct 10, 2011

There isn't a cooling off period in California for property sales like there is for cars. If you're using the standard California Association of Realtors or San Francisco Association of Realtors contract (which most agents do), then take a look at your buyer's remorse clauses that the others have mentioned. They're broadly drafted and allows the parties to cancel for any or no reason up to a point so long as you're all acting in good faith. These two form contracts also contain a series of very important deadlines for contingencies to be removed. Think about these items as the checklist of things that need to happen before escrow can close, e.g., appraisals, inspections completed to buyer's satisfaction, financing. As you can see, they're usually buyer-oriented. But after a point, the progress has become so substantial a buyer's reasons to cancel a deal become less and less reasonable as time goes on and contingencies get removed.

I would bet your real question is more likely focused on your 3.5 percent deposit and whether or not its fully refundable. That answer also depends on the above and human nature in general. Real estate is more emotional than you'd think at first.

Ideally, your agent can answer your question and when making an offer on a property you would have done so thoughtfully so you never get to the point where you want to cancel.
0 votes
Mimi Davies, Agent, Santa Monica, CA
Sat Oct 8, 2011
Hi George

Yes, you can. By agreement between the two of you, or by revocation from the principal.
Will the broker ask you for expenses/commission? That's a different question, as the exclusive right to sell protects the broker.

Although a listing agreement is a contract and therefore consists of promises to perform that are enforceable on both contracting parties, should one's reasons to cancel the agreement be justified by extenuating circumstances (destruction of the property, force majeure, health issues...) I don't see why the contract cannot be terminated in a friendly way.

Safety clause:
If you signed an exclusive right to sell, go through your paperwork to see if you did check the Safety clause box, which technically is a negotiated period after the termination of a listing, and which allows the broker to be entitled to a commission.

Revocation of the agreement:
If the seller decides to rescind the agreement, he/she may be liable for commission, part of the commission, or broker's expenses.

Please discuss your decision to cancel with your agent ASAP. Be sure to kindly explain your reasons and I hope you'll come up to a friendly agreement.

Good luck!
Mimi Davies
0 votes
The Medford…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Sat Oct 8, 2011

Sellers can and do change their minds all the time for any number of reasons. If you want out of a listing agreement, ask. In most cases, the listing agent won’t be happy about it, but will probably agree and provide a written cancellation. Most listing agents are smart enough to know that a seller can make things very difficult for them if an adversarial relationship develops. However, every once in a while we encounter agents who refuse to cooperate and choose to go by the letter of the law – at that point, I’d recommend you talk to a real estate attorney.
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Harold Sharpe, Agent, Menifee, CA
Sat Oct 8, 2011
George Rey,
I do not want to assume, but to clarify, you signed an agreement to sell your property and a few days later you either A. found a different agent you wish to use or B. do not want to deal with the agent you have or C. no longer wish to sell... based on that, the best way out is to put in writing you want out of the agreement and see where it goes. You can or should seek legal cancel. I will say this, some agents put in writing the right to cancel by either party at any time prior to procuring a buyer. That way no one feels trapped. I can not count how many sellers call me after the fact they have signed an agreement when they go to my website and see that all agents are not created alike. I will say this though. keep it friendly and for the most part the agent wants to get your home sold. If all else fails, raise your price on the listing of your home in writing to your agent.

Harold Sharpe - Broker
So Cal Homes Realty
(951) 821-8211
California Department of Real Estate Broker License # 01312992
0 votes
Oggi Kashi, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Fri Oct 7, 2011
Dear Mr. Rey,

If you want out, have you asked your agent to cancel the agreement? If not, please ask for a mutual cancelation and state your reasons. If you already have and the agent is not willing to release you, contact the managing broker of the company and ask for the cancellation. There are other things you can do beyond that however, keeping it peaceful as long as possible is usually the best way out.

Good luck,

Oggi Kashi
Broker Associate, Paragon Real Estate Group
All data from sources deemed reliable but subject to error and omission, and not warranted. CA DRE 01844627
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0 votes
Rob Regan &…, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Fri Oct 7, 2011
This is a legal question you need to run by an attorney. That said I personally would ask the agent to mutually agree to cancel and hope he/she and their brokerage agrees.
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0 votes
Lance King, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Fri Oct 7, 2011

I believe Michael is right on the 3 day right of recision with regards to a listing agreement, but I sincerely doubt anyone adjudicating a request to cancel prior to listing is going to force you to proceed with a particular realtor, especially if you have cause. And I have never heard of an agent/broker refusing to terminate a listing agreement when the seller wanted them to, although I'm sure it happens.

If there is a specific reason, try to work it out with the Broker of the company - perhaps another agent can take over. And although this scenario has never happened to us, speaking as the owner of my company I would not want a client who doesn't have full confidence in our ability as it is an impediment to a good working relationship. In a similar situation I would try to resolve any conflict, and if unable to do so would agree to cancel the listing agreement provided we hadn't done any marketing yet and any out of pocket expenses were paid back.

Best Regards,

Lance King/Owner-Managing Broker
DRE# 01384425
0 votes
Michael Koen…, Agent, Pleasanton, CA
Fri Oct 7, 2011
Hi George,
There is no 3 day right of recision for a listing contract in California. Once signed, the contract is valid until it expires OR both parties (you and the Listing Broker) mutually cancel the agreement. As the seller, you cannot unilaterally cancel the contract.

That being said, if you have valid concerns an issue, it's usually best to discuss it with your agent, and see if you can come to agreement to cancel it. Additionally, the agent may allow you to cancel, but the listing BROKER may not. The broker technically "owns" the listing.

Good luck George!
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0 votes
Scott Godzyk, Agent, Manchester, NH
Fri Oct 7, 2011
If you signed a contract, it may be binding, some states do allow a 3 day right of recission so check your state laws. Most agents will end a contract if the seller is not happy, make sure you request a full release and do it in writing. Good luck working things out
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