You've been looking for your next investment property with a new agent and have decided the agent is not meeting your expectations. Maybe your old agent retired, you are interested in a new area, or this is a different type of commercial property than you have used them for in the past. Rather than deal with subpar service or inexperience, you may be wondering if you can switch agents and how you might approach this potentially uncomfortable situation. Learn the legal aspects of switching agents before signing a commercial contract of sale as well as the etiquette for terminating your relationship along with what to look for in your next agent or broker.
Why you may want to switch
There are a plethora of reasons that changing agents may be crossing your mind, all of which are valid concerns considering you're paying them for their assistance and expertise. Doing your research on a new agent beforehand can go a long way. However, the problem may not be the agent themselves; it could be the search criteria is out of their wheelhouse. Regardless, here are some very common issues that arise between buyers and agents.
- Not timely in responding to you or your schedules not aligning.
- Searching for property in a market or asset class they are not familiar with.
- Showing you listings that don't match your criteria.
- Not actively searching for listings on your behalf.
- Communication issues that create tension.
How to legally switch agents
You must first determine if you've signed a buyer's broker agreement, a contract between you and the agent's brokerage firm, which protects both you and the agent you're working with. If you have not, then the process of switching agents will be much easier. Without a buyer brokerage agreement, the agent has no legal right to your commissions and you can end your relationship as cordially as possible at any time you please. Stating your reasons and being completely transparent that you will be seeking the services of another agent and no longer need their assistance is important and professional.
If you have signed a buyer’s brokerage agreement, refer to it to determine the particulars of the cancellation policy. Most allow you to legally put an end to your relationship as long as they have not shown you the property that you intend to put an offer in on. It should clearly state the actions necessary on your part to terminate the agreement. This typically involves a written letter to the agent and their broker citing the reasons for ending the contract prior to an offer being made. Just make sure to get a written acknowledgement back from them so you're covered down the road.
What to ask when finding your next agent
You never truly know how a realtor relationship will play out until you start working with them. It does help to do some research on the agent or broker rather than going in blind. Ask for referrals from colleagues or at real estate associations or groups, or go directly to a broker with your criteria and ask them to pair you up with an agent who will be a good fit. Have an in person, phone, or virtual meeting with them to get a feel for their experience, personality, and knowledge in your area of interest.
Switching agents mid search can be frustrating, but having someone you trust and work well with is far better than just dealing with it. If you are having ongoing issues, don't hesitate; the longer things are dragged out, the less productive it is for both of you. Determine the requirements for you to legally terminate your nonproductive relationship and find a new agent who is better able to assist you in finding your next commercial property.