It’s not you, it’s me: breaking up with your real estate agent

It's not you, it's me: breaking up with your real estate agent

So, things with your agent haven’t been going the way that you’d hoped when you first started searching for a home. How do you handle the situation?

Even though no one wants this outcome, sometimes the only solution is breaking up with your real estate agent once and for all.

That said, there is absolutely a right way and a wrong way to handle this delicate conversation.

If you’re looking to make sure that you end up on the right side of the break up, we’ve got some pointers on how to make sure the termination process goes smoothly and ensure that professional angst and hurt feelings are kept to a minimum.

Can you work it out?

The truth is, not every less-than-ideal situation with your real estate agent has to end in termination. You both have spent time building a relationship, and sometimes attempting to hash out any issues is the better solution. Tell your agent that you’re unhappy, and looking for things to change if your relationship is going to continue.

If you go this route, make sure to go in with concrete details. Explain to your real estate agent exactly what it was about their behavior that upset you, lay out what your realistic expectations are, and what you’d like to see change in the future. The more information you can give, the more likely you are to see positive change.

That said, it’s also important to be open to the possibility that your agent, as the buying expert, may have a reasoning behind his or her actions that you’re unaware of as a “consumer.”

It's not you, it's me: breaking up with your real estate agent

Do you have a contract? If so, you’ll need to honor it.

If you signed a contract agreeing to use them as your sole real estate agent, it likely also includes a clause on how to handle termination.

If you really can’t work it out with your agent, your next step is to read over that contract to get a sense of your next steps. Every agent handles termination differently. Some may require written notice. Others may want you to adhere to certain time frames. Whatever your contract says, that’s the way that you should ideally handle breaking up with your agent.

There shouldn’t be any true animosity between you when you terminate via any procedure that’s outlined in your buyer agency contract.

The truth is, termination is an unfortunate fact of business for most agents. It happens, and, by terminating on their preferred terms, you’ve shown your agent that you’re handling the process with respect. In all likelihood, he or she will do the same.

Be sure to avoid procuring cause.

This is the big one.

Above all else, when breaking up with your real estate agent, avoid “dating” anyone else until your current relationship is officially over.

In real estate, “procuring cause” is a fancy way of referring to who’s responsible for helping you buy or sell your property. It also denotes who gets commission on the deal, and you know people don’t like it when others mess with their money.

If you’re working with one agent at a time, obviously, the winner is clear. However, when multiple agents get involved, things can get tricky fast.

For instance: Let’s say that you had a different agent show you some properties while you were still deciding on whether or not to keep your current one. You finally settle on a home, without realizing that you’ve actually seen it twice, once with each agent.

Who gets the commission? Technically, they’ve both done the same amount of work: it’s just that you were ready to buy the second time around.

Believe it or not, you could get sued for breach of contract in the above scenario.

If both agents find out and insist on getting commission, you could be saddled with paying it twice. The rationale behind that decision being that you violated your contract with the first agent and misrepresented yourself to the second. The moral of the story, here, is: play it safe, and stick to one agent at a time.

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