Ask Us: How can I replace my real estate agent?

Where readers ask and we (the community) try to answer:

Earlier this year I looked at a property with a partner and traded a few emails with another agent who I had worked with on a home purchase in the past. He provided cursory input on comps, reviewed a very preliminary design, but I always got the feeling that he had better things to do. The service just wasn’t there.

So the question is:

How do you effectively replace an agent/broker on a deal before an offer is made? Are there commission issues and hidden costs which need to be addressed?

We’re assuming you are being represented as a buyer? If that is the case, unless you signed a specific “buyer’s broker agreement” or something of the sort you can simply walk away. There shouldn’t be any hidden costs or commissions. The agent may try to get something out of you or the other agent in the way of “referral fees”, but unless there is an agreement in writing, you can pretty much walk away. You might tell them you’re walking away out of courtesy (emails work, phone calls are better), but that is up to you.

Good luck!

12 thoughts on “Ask Us: How can I replace my real estate agent?”

  1. Walk away, and hire Alex or myself.

    hahahha. Just kidding. (Sort of.)

    There may be an issue if the realtor brought the property to your attention and not vice versa. If that is the case, and it was the agent who made you aware of the property, there is a precedent for needing to retain the agent for that particular property. This is even if it was in the MLS. Agents’ brokerages have sued for commissions in the past successfully under those circumstances. I don’t know that they would because it might be too costly in the long run, but it happens.

    However if that property has already come and gone then there is no problem. Start anew with someone else. Hint hint.

  2. what if the first agent brought you to a property, which you saw in the MLS as well, which after review you decided you are not interested in — based on all the information provided to you by the first agent.

    And you really stopped thinking about that property (I know it’s hard to prove that in court).

    After a while, you got discouraged by the property scene in SF and told the first agent in email you are not looking anymore. While you continued to check out some open houses (just to see how people remodel their homes), you were going there sans any agent.

    However, after a couple of months, another agent (a friend of a friend) called and said, “hey. do you know about this property? I got some good insider info and here is the scoop.”

    It just happened to be the property that you looked at with the first agent.

    After listening to the 2nd agent and his insider scoop, you realize based on that exclusive piece of info you want to get this property. And you decide you want to use the 2nd agent.

    You have no contract with the first agent.

    Is it OK?

  3. Switcheroo,

    That is a tricky one and likely to really cause a stir with your first agent. Like Fluj said, the brokerage may go after you (not likely), but from my past experiences as long as there is nothing in writing with the first agent along the lines of an exclusive “buyer broker agreement”, you should be in the clear. I might suggest asking your second agent to pay the first agent a referral fee. No money out of your pocket, everyone is happy, crisis averted.

  4. Interesting side bar. Last week, I had buyers from the East Coast looking at homes in Contra Costa. Price -$1-2.8M. We toured 47 homes over 3 days. I received a resounding 5 calls or emails from the Listing agents requesting feedback. I didn’t realize our business was THAT good! One of those 47 is receiving a nice non-contingent offer with a 30 day close.

  5. If you are going to fire your agent, do it in person.

    Be polite and tell that agent what service or skills prompted you to make a change. Make sure whoever you use is trustworthy, honest, and has your interests at heart, not just presuring you to make a switch to get a deal.

    It is not that hard to tell.

  6. Fluj: What do you know about real estate. According to the SFARMLS, you’ve only done one deal. Period. And, that listing you bought from the selling client, you had to reduce and then represented the buyers in a dual agency that was very dubious at best. Let other, experieced agents reply to issues for real agents and continue writing your drivel on SocketSight. Enough already. The Bay area is windy enough without your hot air.

    [Editor’s note: We actually like his “hot air” and think he provides a wealth of data and MLS knowledge most agents know nothing about, whether he’s hitting sales out of the park or not. For the record, the best agents don’t necessarily know the market, they know how to market.]

  7. Doubtfull of Fluj,

    What are your credentials? The property your talking about he worked both ends for me, as is often the case when working for developers.

    By the way, Fluj, excellent work on the place we bought yesterday.

  8. I’ve been developing r.e. in SF for 11 years and have been a full time realtor for six years. I don’t know what you saw at the SFARMLS, but I do know that when realtors switch companies brokers will remove previous sales and assign them to the managing broker instead. It still doesn’t make sense as I have done a lot of deals since that time and four this year so far. Plus one yesterday. Thank you for your out of the blue interest in my career, but every single thing you said was misinformed.

    If you want to talk to me in the future in such a mean spirited manner, you won’t find me so magnanimous. The creator of the web site has faith in my abilities. You’re free to never check this site out again if you doubt my knowledge and skill.

  9. Got a beat up, SFR in Noe. Thinking units, adding 1 or 2. Still figuring out what is the best play. That $6M+ on Duncan that is already sold had me thinking about that, but the risk/reward isn’t there compared to nice units.

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