Can a Listing Agreement be Cancelled?

As a Real Estate professional, I get asked about this a lot.  It generally is as a result of a property not selling as quickly as the owner would like.   My response is that before you consider if you can cancel your listing agreement, you should first ask if you should take that action. Let me address that topic in a minute…..

Is the seller of a home able to cancel the listing agreement?  Most listing agreements, the agreement you (the home seller) sign between you and the Broker of Record for the agency you have hired, have a specific term that can be any length but is generally  3 – 12 months in duration. 

Most agreements do NOT allow you to simply fire your agent and the firm.  You are able to take the home off the market but cannot relist with another agency without paying commissions to both until the end date of the listing agreement passes.  This is obviously something you don’t want to entertain. 

Please read your listing agreement carefully and ask to have an unconditional withdrawal clause added that states that you may cancel the agreement within 24 hours provided there are no written or oral agreements of sale on the property.  Also, make sure this is in writing, signed by the office broker of record.

It has been my experience that most listing agreements don’t have an unconditional withdrawal.  In my opinion, if I as an agent am not doing my job, being uncommunicative, unresponsive and not adhering to what I stated my services would encompass (in writing) at the time the listing agreement was signed, then I deserve to be fired and you the client should have the unencumbered ability to list with another agent at your discretion.

Ok, should you fire your agent?  Overwhelmingly agents work ridiculous hours, typically go over and above what is called for and do the best for their clients.  What other profession takes calls at 10:00 pm on a Sunday night from a seller that needs to vent?  If your agent has marketed your home, provided you with constant feedback and is guiding you competently, but your home has not sold, this is NOT really a reason to fire your agent. 

Have your been told that it appears your home is priced above current market values? Has the agent mentioned that in order to be competitive you need to do some updating, etc.?  This is the time to listen to your agent no matter how difficult it is to hear.  I have seen too many times to count, this scenario: 

123 Main Street is listed for sale with agent “A”.  It languishes on the market for 6 months and does not sell.  Agent “B” then reduces the price and it sells within 2 weeks.  In most situations there is no difference between what agents “A” or “B” did.  Agent “B” was able to list the home at current market values and obtain a sale. 

To conclude, if your agent is doing everything promised and acting as a professional, it may be best to listen to your agent.  Remember I do this on a daily basis.  Most people sell 2 or 3 homes in their lifetime.  Experience does count. 

If your agent is not doing as previously discussed, having an unconditional withdrawal in writing should protect you.

Happy home selling!   

Suburban Realty Professionals  ♦  Princeton Office  ♦  96 Wall Street  ♦  Princeton, NJ 08540  ♦  877-221-8787