Whether you're buying a home, selling one, or aiming to do both at the same time, you have a choice: Navigate the process on your own, or hire a real estate agent to assist you. Working with a real estate agent especially makes sense when you're on the buying end, because you generally won't pay a fee or commission in that scenario. Rather, it's sellers who pay a fee based on the price their homes go for.
But if you're working with a real estate agent, the relationship needs to be mutually beneficial. And if that's not the case, it's time to move on. Here are a few good reasons to cut ties with your real estate agent -- and find a better professional to partner up with.
1. Your agent doesn't know the local market as well as claimed
The benefit of working with a real estate agent is getting unique insight that could help you identify a great home to buy or land on the ideal sale price for your home. But if your agent isn't familiar with your local market, that person may not be of such great use to you. And if you discover your real estate agent expressly misrepresented their knowledge of the area, that's reason enough to move on.
2. Your agent is extremely hard to reach
When you're buying or selling a home, the last thing you want to do is spend time hunting your real estate agent down. A good agent is someone who will communicate with you regularly and be available when questions arise. If you find your real estate agent doesn't promptly return your calls or get back to you, consider it a sign that person is the wrong person for the job.
3. Your agent keeps showing you the wrong homes
When you're buying a home, it's common practice to set a price range based on what you can afford and provide a real estate agent with a list of must-haves for your new digs, whether it's an updated kitchen, a large backyard, or a swimming pool. But if your agent keeps pushing you to look at homes outside your financial comfort zone or that lack the key features you've asked for, that's not someone you should continue working with.
4. Your agent isn't keeping your safety concerns in mind
Selling a home during the pandemic is not the same thing as selling one during normal times. You may be worried about the idea of strangers traipsing through your home or hosting an open house that could attract crowds. If that's not something your real estate agent respects or works around, then that agent is worth dumping.
Can you break up with your real estate agent?
When you meet someone online you don't click with, you can let that person down gently with a kind-worded phone call (or, if you're a bit more chicken, a text). Heck, you can technically ghost that person without too many repercussions if it's someone you don't have any ties to other than stumbling upon a dating website profile.
Breaking up with a real estate agent, however, is trickier. If you've signed a contract agreeing to work with that agent for a preset period of time, you may be on the hook for that agent's commission if you decide to back out. Of course, this is only an issue if you're selling a home. Usually, if you're buying, you're not contractually obligated to keep working with an agent for a certain period of time, and since buyers don't pay an agent fee, even if you do have a contact, your agent may be willing to let you out of it.
That said, if you've agreed to retain a real estate agent to sell your home for three months and you can already tell the relationship isn't working out a few weeks in, it pays to have an honest conversation. Your agent might agree to terminate your contract without penalty -- not just to be nice but as a means of reputation salvaging.
Furthermore, if your real estate agent isn't fulfilling the duties listed under your contract and won't let you off the hook easily, it could pay to get an attorney involved. In many situations, it won't have to come to that, but if it does, you shouldn't hesitate to do whatever you can to get out of that bad relationship.