Cancelling a listing contract with your realtoR

Finding the right Realtor doesn’t always happen on the first try. Even if you’ve done your research and have found a Realtor that you get along well with, the home buying or selling process might not be as seamless – or as effective – as you’d hoped. 

Whether it’s been months and months without any progress or the chemistry just isn’t there, you may find yourself asking: “How long do Realtor contracts last? Can I cancel my listing or buyer contract – and if so, how will that impact my home buying/selling process?”

In the sections below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about cancelling a Realtor contract, including:

Realtor contracts can be long and detailed, and not all Realtors communicate cancellation terms up front. And while no one wants to be in the position of cancelling a listing or buyer contract, sometimes it’s simply unavoidable. Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of getting out of a Realtor contract so you know exactly what to expect.

Can You Cancel A Contract With A Realtor?

The short answer is: yes, you can cancel a contract with a Realtor. The long answer is that while it’s certainly possible, getting out of a Realtor contract may or may not be easy. It depends on the Realtor. That’s because your Realtor contract is a legally binding document – and much like any contract, ending it requires a bit of finessing. 

Can I Fire My Realtor As A Seller?

Before you decide to list your home with a Realtor, you’ll sign a listing agreement. This states that you’ll work with a specific Realtor and real estate brokerage.

Can I Fire My Realtor As A Buyer?

As a buyer, your real estate agent may have had you sign a Buyer Representation Agreement (BRA) before putting an offer on a home. This contract establishes a formal working agreement and lists the expectations for each party. If your Realtor has violated any of the expectations or clauses in your BRA, you can use that as a basis to fire your Realtor.

Top 10 Reasons To Fire A Realtor

There are plenty of reasons that you might want to fire your Realtor. From general frustration to lack of results to simply being the wrong fit for each other, it may even be in the best interest of both parties to “break up.” Here are 10 reasons you might want to fire your realtor:

  • Your property isn’t selling
  • The home buying process has been long and drawn-out
  • Your Realtor doesn’t understand your needs or preferences
  • Your Realtor has been unresponsive 
  • Your Realtor has over-promised and under-delivered
  • Add-on services (like staging or marketing materials) have not been up to a seller’s standards
  • Home value has been over- or under-exaggerated
  • Multiple pending contracts have fallen through 
  • Advice from Realtor is untrustworthy 
  • Your Realtor is unprofessional or otherwise unpleasant

How To Get Out Of Contract With A Realtor?

No matter the reason, once you’re set on getting out of contract with your Realtor, it’s time to take action. But can you fire a Realtor before your contract is up? Your best next steps depend on whether your Realtor is selling your home or helping you buy a new one.

If you are a seller

First, try talking with your agent to see if they’re willing to cancel the listing contract. Your Realtor may find it worthwhile to cancel a contract with an unsatisfied client, rather than continuing to push forward in an unproductive relationship. If they aren’t willing to cancel the listing contract, you can reach out to the real estate brokerage and ask to be reassigned to another agent. 

If the brokerage is unwilling to assign another realtor (or if your Realtor hasn’t violated the terms of your listing agreement), you can file a complaint with the real estate regulatory body within your province or territory. Finally, you can always sit and wait for the contract terms to run their course before relisting. It’s certainly not ideal, but as a method of last resort, it’s a good option to have on deck.

Note there are two ways to cancel a listing contract: 

1) A ‘Cancellation’ will keep you bound to 55 days or the remaining term of the listing contract, whichever is less. 

2) An ‘Unconditional Release’ will release you from the listing contract terms immediately and allows you to rehire any Realtor with any real estate brokerage after it is signed and submitted. 
*Options are based on current Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver ‘Cancellation’ and ‘Unconditional Release’ forms as of September 2021. 

Key Takeaways

  • A listing agreement is a contract 
  • Go to your real estate agent first to see if they are willing to break the contract
  • Know the difference between a ‘Cancellation’ and ‘Unconditional Release’
  • Ask the real estate brokerage if they can place you with another agent 
  • A method of last resort is to sit and wait for the contract terms to expire

If you are a Buyer

Once you’ve signed a Buyer’s Representation Agreement (BRA), you are legally bound to a real estate brokerage by the terms of that agreement. However, if you feel that your realtor has violated any of those terms, this can make getting out of a contract with a Realtor much easier. 

Your first step should always be to ask your Realtor if they are willing to cancel the contract early – don’t forget that it’s in the Realtor’s best interest to have a positive relationship with clients, and they’ll want to keep their reputation intact as much as possible. 

If they aren’t willing to cancel the contract, it’s time to pull out your Buyer’s Representation Agreement. Take a look at all stated terms and make sure you understand the expectations and requirements for both sides. If there has not been a flagrant violation, you can check to see if your BRA includes a “provision for schedules.” This clause allows buyers to end their Realtor contract early. A provision for schedules may require a secondary agreement, called a release, that provides additional terms after the contract is broken. 

Key Takeaways

  • A Buyer Representation Agreement is a contract
  • Make sure you understand the terms and stated requirements for both parties
  • Look for a “provision for schedules” to see if early termination has been built into your contract

Top 5 FAQs On Cancelling Realtor Contracts

Cancelling Realtor contracts can be tough, and if you’ve never done it before, there are plenty of unknowns. But if you’re truly unsatisfied with your Realtor, there’s nothing worse than feeling as if you’re stuck with no recourse! As an additional guide, we’ve compiled a few of the most common questions that buyers and sellers have about cancelling Realtor contracts.

How long do Listing contracts last?

Realtor listing contracts vary, and are negotiable before signing a listing agreement. Most last anywhere between three months to a year, but a common length for many properties around Greater Vancouver is four months.

Can a Realtor sue for breach of listing or buyer contract?

It’s incredibly rare, but there have been a few instances where a real estate brokerage has sued to collect on commissions, even when a sale falls through. However, keep in mind that it’s not in a Realtor’s best interest to sue you – Realtors depend on word of mouth and recommendations, and bad press is the last thing that they want.

Will I owe my Realtor money after getting out of a listing or buyer contract?

It depends on your Realtor. If you cancel a listing contract, you may be obligated to reimburse your realtor for certain fees and services conducted while you were working together. This could include marketing materials, advertising, or photography.

Who should I talk to in order to cancel a Realtor listing or buyer contract?

If your Realtor refuses to cancel the contract, reach out to the real estate brokerage or real estate board. Give them an overview of what is happening with your Realtor, let them know why you are unsatisfied.

Ready To Get Started?

At Garbutt + Dumas, we know how frustrating it can be to find yourself cancelling a listing or buyer contract with a Realtor. This is why we write into the listing contract that ‘you can cancel at any time’ and we don’t put buyers we work with under a contract.  Our buyers choose to work with us, and are not obligated to under a written contract.  Don’t let a negative experience with a Realtor stop you from trying again! We’d love to help you sell your home or buy your next one. Connect with us today and experience the difference that our team can make!