Home buyers and sellers are sometimes concerned about whether they’ll have the right to fire their real estate agent if they aren’t getting the job done.
Considering it’s typically the biggest purchase many people make, or the sale of their largest asset, it’s fair and reasonable for consumers to want the ability to part ways.
But what many people don’t think about is whether they can be fired by their agent.
Being an agent requires that they treat everyone fairly and not discriminate, but they are not a public service that can be expected to serve a client who isn’t holding up their end of the relationship.
This recent article from The Real Deal covers a few extreme scenarios where agents fired their clients for reasons that ranged from a buyer who summoned ghosts when looking at houses, to unwanted sexual advances from clients.
Most agents are going to be as diplomatic and agreeable as possible, and would have to be pushed to pretty hard and far before cutting ties with you. But it doesn’t have to be anything as extreme as they cite in that article.
Let’s take a look at some more common reasons your agent might fire you, so you can avoid it happening the next time you buy or sell a house:
- Working with other agents simultaneously. This is more common when you’re a buyer. If you’re selling a house, you almost always have to sign a contract with one broker to market and sell your house. But as a buyer, there’s a good chance you won’t have a written contract. Sure, legally you can look for houses with more than one agent, but that doesn’t mean you should. The agent needs to protect the time and effort they’re spending with buyers, since they don’t have a guarantee or any protection from you buying a house through someone else. So if your agent finds out you’re working with other agents at the same time as them, they could decide to stop working with you.
- Making unreasonable demands. It’s fair for you to expect your agent to be available and responsive, but if you expect them to be at their beck and call at all hours of the day or night — or demand that they go way beyond the call of duty and ask them to clean your house, or run errands for you — then you might find yourself being fired as a client.
- Being biased or racist. Agents are legally required to make sure their clients aren’t breaking any Fair Housing laws. If you insist on violating any laws created to protect specific classes of people of a federal or state level, you’re going to be fired.
- Continuously ignoring their advice. This isn’t to say that you have to take every piece of advice or recommendation an agent makes, or you’re going to be fired. You have the right to disagree and make your own decisions. But if you’re continually ignoring solid advice, they may just get to the point where they feel it’s best to part ways, especially if it’s getting in the way of their ability to successfully help you buy or sell a house.
- Hiding issues with your house. You’re supposed to disclose any known issues when selling your house. If your agent finds out you’re intentionally hiding material defects, your agent will have to fire you.
- Constantly making unreasonably low offers with no basis. When working with a buyer, an agent has to present and defend any offer you want to make. That said, if your offers are absolutely ridiculous and impossible to defend, you may get a pass or two, but after a while your agent may decide to stop working with you if you aren’t making offers that can be justified and backed by recent sales data.
- Being disrespectful. If you’re rude, demeaning, or condescending, you shouldn’t be surprised when your agent doesn’t tolerate it and tells you to take your business elsewhere.
That’s by no means an all-inclusive list of reasons your real estate agent could fire you, but it should give you a good idea of where the line is drawn. Generally speaking, if you treat your agent with respect, you’ll never have to worry about being fired by your agent.