Selling a home is rarely as easy as imagined. Sometimes, things do not go as planned because the market isn’t cooperative. Other times, you wind up with a poor real estate agent who just isn’t performing up to standard. When that happens, what can you do?

Working with a real estate broker or agent outside of a contractual agreement offers an easy exit. You simply make a phone call and politely let the agent know you are done. That’s that. But if you signed a contract with the agent or broker, you signed a legally binding agreement. Getting out of that contract could prove difficult.

● Contracts Protect Both Parties

Salt Lake City’s CityHome Collective explains that contracts are designed protect all involved parties. Real estate brokers often require contracts as a means of legally determining the rights and responsibilities of broker, agent, and seller.

In most cases, canceling a contract is not the issue. At issue is language within the contract that stipulates one of two things:

  • Exclusivity – A typical seller’s agent contract contains language giving that agent the exclusive right to list the property for a certain amount of time. Six months is typical.
  • Sales Fees – Some seller’s agent contracts contain language stipulating that the agent or their brokerage is still legally entitled to a fee once the home sells.

The problem with both of the stipulations is that they lock the seller into that brokerage or agent for the duration of the contract. Even if the broker agrees to cancel, you still might not have the right to list your property with another broker until after the date your original contract would have expired. And during that time, you may still have to pay the original broker’s fee upon sale.

● Contact an Attorney for Help

The experts at CityHome Collective say the last thing you should do is call your broker and threaten action because you are unsatisfied with the agent’s performance. Threats tend to garner an equally hostile response. Instead, your best course of action is to ask that your home be reassigned to another agent.

Should contacting the brokerage owner not resolve the situation, the only other alternative is to contact the lawyer. An experienced lawyer may be able to negotiate a way out of the contract that is amenable to both parties.

You will have a stronger case if you can demonstrate that, in failing to perform as expected, your agent or broker violated your contractor agreement. For instance, maybe the contract stipulated how your agent was to market your home. A failure to do so constitutes a breach of contract and is legal grounds for termination without penalty.

● Failing to Sell Is Insufficient

Note that simply failing to sell your house is insufficient cause for terminating a seller’s agent agreement. Your house might fail to sell for any number of reasons. If the agent markets your home, shows it on request, and takes reasonable steps to attract potential buyers, there isn’t much you can do.

Having said that, there is something you can do before you sign a contract. Seller’s agent contracts are not set in stone. There is no particular format they have to follow or language they have to contain. Consider adding language to the contract that stipulates conditions under which you might terminate the deal.

Selling a home is already difficult enough. It’s made worse when real estate brokers and agents don’t perform. But unless you head things off by modifying contract language before you sign, you may be out of luck.