How to Fire your Real Estate Agent

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Updated 02/23/2023.

Okay, okay go easy. If your home isn’t selling, or you’re not finding the home you want to buy, or the real estate transaction you were in fell apart, it isn’t necessarily your real estate agent’s fault. The housing market has its ups and downs, perhaps your criteria to buy a home is too narrow, price too high, or perhaps a transaction fell apart because of someone else, not your agent.

When it is the real estate agent’s fault, or perhaps you find they simply aren’t the right fit and your personalities clash, here’s a guide on firing your real estate agent today (it is sometimes a process).

Full disclosure, I’m a licensed real estate agent since 2003 (Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington with EXP Realty) and my team has sold more than 2,000 local homes. And if any one of my clients wants to fire me, they will learn how to do so as well in this article (but they should know how to already, we spell it out in our contracts as clear as we can).

3 Steps to Firing Your Real Estate Agent

Step One: Get it in Writing

First contact your agent to see if there is anyway to resolve your differences. If there is not, and the agent is willing to release you from your signed contract (be it a listing agreement or buyer’s broker agreement) then get the cancellation and the terms of that cancellation in writing.

See if the real estate agent you’re working with will give you a written cancellation notice that includes no possible of future of commissions owed to them or their Realty company.

Here’s why a verbal cancellation agreement or a simple written one without any terms attached may not be sufficient:

Cancelled contracts doesn’t necessarily equal no commission owed or strings attached. Many listing contracts in particular allow the client to cancel but don’t allow the client to put the home back on the market themselves or with another agent (for a set period of time) after cancelling without some additional terms attached. Some cancelled listing contracts allows for the listing agent to still get paid if one of the buyers that visited or expressed interest in the initial listing period comes back around later, when the home is no longer listed with that agent, and then that buyer makes an offer.

If the real estate agent or Realty firm is willing to send you a written notice that your contract with them is cancelled and there is no possibility of them earning future commissions off of you without starting a new contract, then you’re done (in my non-legal opinion based on my own industry experience of many years). You’ve successfully fired your real estate agent without having to worry about strings attached or potential future commissions owed. When in doubt, always consult a licensed real estate attorney.

If step one fails, go to step two.

Step Two: Read the Contract and Get Ahold of their Reviewing Broker

Before you contact their “boss” or the authority above (we’ll explain this next) the real estate agent you want to fire, make sure you’ve read and understand the terms of the agreement you signed. This will help you know what you’re talking about when you speak with the “higher authority.”

Every real estate agent has a “higher authority” be it the State that holds their license or their “Reviewing Broker.” Most real estate agents have a Reviewing Broker (sometimes called Designated Broker) and for those few that don’t (they are their own Reviewing Broker), then you have to contact the State. From my personal industry experience, if the agent has a Reviewing Broker overseeing them (and most will) I highly recommend contacting this person next.

How to find and contact their Reviewing Broker. Look through your contract and if you can find a document called something like, “Disclosed Limited Agency,” or a section on Agency, it may already list who their Reviewing or Designated Broker is in addition to that real estate agent’s name and Realty company. If that doesn’t work, search for their Realty company online (perhaps on a local map to make sure you’re getting local offices) and then call some numbers. When people answer the phone, ask who the Reviewing Broker or Designated Broker is for that office and how to contact them.

Quick guide to Brokers if you need it. There are typically two levels of Broker’s licenses in each State. You have regular Brokers who cannot supervise other Brokers. Then you have Managing (called in Washington) or Principal Brokers (called in Oregon), which means they can supervise other Brokers (but not that they do). When you are talking about a Reviewing Broker or Designated Broker in Oregon or Washington it is typically a Managing or Principal Broker that is actively supervising other real estate agents (who may have either Broker’s license type).

If step one and two fail, go to step three.

Step Three: Get the State to Help

In my experience if someone honestly tries to complete step one and step two above, they’ll never need (or want to) go to step three and involve the State. If needed though, this link will take you to the Oregon Real Estate Agency and their page for consumers to land on to get help in Oregon. And this link will take you to the Washington State Department of Licensing page for consumers to land on to get help in Washington.

What if my Realtor wants to Charge me Money for Cancelling?

All of my contracts are cancel anytime for no charge, but I know that is not true across the industry. If the Realtor you’re working with wants to charge you a fee and you don’t want to pay it, then again I recommend following the steps above to see if you can get it resolved without a monetary fine or fee.

Can you Interview other Realtors or Realty Companies While Still in Contract with your Current Real Estate Agent?

Yes. There is no prohibition. Any home seller or home buyer when thinking about switching real estate agents can start interviewing other Realtors and companies. Keep in mind, those Realtors and other Realty companies are not supposed to initiate contact with you, when you’re in an active contract. But if you reach out first, then you can freely meet with and interview them. Also be sure to not sign anything with a new Realtor or Realty company until you’re sure the current contract you’re in is cancelled and you’re aware of any strings attached or managed to get those contractual strings removed first.

Cancel Anytime Contracts for No Charge

When I first got started in the industry I learned about other real estate agents who put their clients into long-term contracts that couldn’t be cancelled without charges or strings attached. I decided this was not how I was going to operate my business. All of our contracts are cancel anytime for no charge with 24 hours notice. The only time a client cannot cancel a contract is if we are currently in a pending deal (because then it is a multi-party contract). But if that pending sale were to terminate, then that client can cancel with 24 hours notice for no charge (or strings attached) from us.

We believe in fair and reasonable commission, 4% max. in Portland and SW Washington. We believe in providing better marketing and services. And we believe in providing contracts that favor the client and not the company. If you’re thinking of selling or buying a home in Oregon or Washington, we’d love to talk with you today. Call our main line at 503-714-1111 or chat with the bot on this site.

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