You know how to break up with a romantic partner when it’s not working out. “It’s not you, it’s me,” you tell them. Or, “I’m not ready for a long-term commitment.”
But how do you break off a professional relationship — like with a real estate agent — when it’s not working out? Can I fire my real estate agent, you’re wondering. Yes, you can. Professional relationships can go bad if you’re not happy with the service you’re getting. And like any bad relationship, they need to be ended.
“When you reach the point where it’s not going to work and you don’t want to deal with that agent, you should tell them,” says Elizabeth Weintraub, a REALTOR® based in Sacramento, Calif.
Let’s talk about some of the reasons you might be unhappy with the person helping you hunt for a house, and how to fire your real estate agent.
Your Agent is Ghosting You
One of the most common complaints buyers have is that their agent isn’t communicating with them. If your agent isn’t returning your calls, or you’re getting a text when you wanted to speak with them, that could be a problem.
Sparse communication is especially annoying if you’re house hunting in a tight market where you have to act fast when you see a home you like. To keep your relationship healthy, tell your agent how often you want them to be in contact with you, and what your preferred methods of communication are.
Weintraub says she makes it a point to talk to her clients about communication as soon as she begins working with them. “I ask, ‘How often do you want to hear from me? Do you want me to call, text, or email? Are there times during the day that are not convenient?’” she says.
If you’re consistently not hearing from your agent as often as you’d like, have a chat with them. Be open if your expectations also need alignment. But if you don’t see any agreed change, it might be time to get a new agent.
Your Agent Just Doesn’t Get You, And You’re Over It
There’s no eHarmony for real estate. But even if your agent isn’t a match made in house hunting heaven, you should be able to have a professional, courteous relationship with them.
But sometimes, people clash. If you’re a Type A person, an agent who has a laid-back approach to business might drive you nuts. If you’re dipping your toe into the real estate world, an agent who wants you to make quick decisions may make you uncomfortable.
Buying a home should be a enjoyable adventure. If you and your agent aren’t a good fit and there’s no resolution in sight, get a new agent.
How Do I Fire My Real Estate Agent?
Before you part ways, read any contractual agreements you signed with the agent. If you signed a buyer broker agreement, you may have promised to work with the agent for a set period of time. You'll need to ask to be released from the agreement early if that's the case.
Once you know you can fire your agent, call him and tell him so. Be calm. Be polite. Be clear.
You don’t need to provide a lengthy explanation, but you do need to tell them you won’t be needing their services any longer so they won’t continue to look for homes on your behalf.
Do not fire your agent via text. In professional relationships, just as in romantic ones, it’s not OK to breakup via text. Call them.
Do not ghost your agent. In real estate, as in romance, that's cheating. If you buy a house from another agent without ending your relationship with the first one, you may be on the hook for multiple commissions.
TIP: Working with a buyer broker is a smart idea. A buyer broker represents you in the search and purchase of a home. If you work with the seller's agent or an agent without a contract, that agent isn't obligated to work in your best interest.
Have High Expectations From the Start
When a relationship reaches its breaking point, it’s good to reflect on where it went wrong -- with a tub of ice cream and Taylor Swift songs blaring in the background. You want to learn from your mistake so you pick a better person next time.
“Don’t latch onto the first agent you meet because you’ve got someone willing to show you properties,” Weintraub says. “You’ve got to be simpatico from the beginning.”
When you decide you’re ready to be a homebuyer and need a real estate agent, write down a list of things you want and need. Do you need someone with expertise in a specific neighborhood? Do you need help finding a lender? Do you need someone patient enough to answer a lot of first-time homebuyer type questions?
Also, ask for recommendations from friends and family who have recently bought a house. Look at reviews online. Once you have a name, meet with an agent and discuss your expectations before you hire them. Make sure they’re someone you like and trust enough to guide you through the biggest financial transaction you’ve ever made.
Remember, putting the effort into finding a good agent can save you the awkwardness of firing a bad one.