Can You Fire Your Realtor in the Middle of a Sale?

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Real estate agent (Photo: @Vruln via Twenty20)
When it comes time to sell your home, you’re probably going to hire a real estate agent to handle then tricky parts, like listing it, advertising it, negotiating with a buyer, and taking care of paperwork. In exchange, you pay the agent a commission based on the sale price.
But what if you’re not happy with your real estate agent? Maybe you don’t get along with them, or find them unprofessional. Maybe they haven’t gotten you any offers. Maybe they’re negotiating a sale and you don’t like how they’re treating the potential buyer.
Whatever the reason, you may want to move on to a new realtor. But can you fire your realtor, even when you’re in the middle of a sale? Read on to find out.

Can you fire your realtor in the middle of a sale?

Yes, you can fire your realtor in the middle of a sale, but it can get complicated, especially if you’ve started to negotiate terms with a buyer. Obviously you can’t just use a realtor to find a buyer, then fire the realtor and save yourself the money they would be owed. It doesn’t work that way.
Still, you can fire a realtor if things aren’t working out, even if you’re already well into the process of selling your home. There are two different methods for firing a realtor.

1. Fire your real estate agent but stay with the broker

In most cases, the realtor you hire is merely an employee of a larger real estate brokerage. Sometimes you might hire an independent realtor, or a realtor who owns a small brokerage, but most cases you’ll be working with a realtor who works for a brokerage.
In that case, it’s actually the broker that you’re committed to, and that has control over the process. The realtor is just a representative for the broker.
If your problems are solely with the realtor, and not with their brokerage, then you might want to consider firing your realtor but staying with the brokerage. This is the easiest method for firing a realtor, because you’re unlikely to accrue any fees or penalties, and you probably won’t even have any additional paperwork that you need to fill out. Hiring a new broker is a bit of a hassle, so this can help you avoid that.
To fire your realtor but stay with your broker, just request a meeting with a manager or boss at your brokerage and tell them your concerns. They should be able to work with you to find a realtor that better suits you.

2. Fire your realtor and broker, and start over with a new broker

If you think the broker is the problem, or if your realtor and broker are one and the same, then you’ll want to break your contract with them, and start over. As for what that process looks like, well … it really just depends on the contract you’ve entered with your broker.
When you sign a real estate agreement, there will likely be language for what the penalty is for getting out of the contract. With some brokers, there isn’t a penalty unless you’ve already reached an agreement with a buyer. If you’ve reached an agreement and are going through with the sale, then you’ll owe a hefty penalty, likely close to the commission for the sale.
If you haven’t reached an agreement, then you’ll likely owe a much smaller penalty. Some brokers don’t even charge you a penalty for breaking the contract if a sale has not been agreed upon. Simply call your real estate agent and let them know it’s not working out, and they can walk you through the terms of your contract.