I’m Not Happy. Can I Cancel My Listing Agreement?

You’ve signed a listing agreement with a real estate agent and listed your home or land for sale. Now, you aren’t happy with the services or you’ve decided it’s not the right time to sell, but you’ve signed a binding contract. Can you cancel?

The answer to this question depends on the state and brokerage. It’s very important for you to read the listing agreement and all accompanying paperwork thoroughly before making any decisions. Even though each state commission provides its own guidelines for listing agreements, the agent or brokerage (real estate company – Coldwell Banker, Re\Max, Keller Williams, etc.) may include additional terms and conditions. Despite these variations, there are certain stipulations that seem to be common from one state to the next.

First, the listing agreement is usually between the seller and brokerage, not the seller and real estate agent. Though you hired the real estate agent based on their experience and listing proposal, they have a fiduciary role in the agreement. It is their job to make sure that the brokerage’s responsibilities are fulfilled per the terms laid out in the agreement. Depending on the policies of the brokerage, the real estate agent may or may not hold the power to mutually terminate the listing agreement if asked.

Second, if you aren’t happy with the way your listing has been handled and the real estate agent refuses to cancel the agreement before the expiration date, you will need to speak with the managing broker or broker-in-charge at the brokerage. They are your real estate agent’s “boss”. They will assess the situation and decide the best course of action, which may be standing firm with the agent, assigning a new agent to handle the listing, or cancelling the listing agreement.

Third, even if your home is taken off the market, you may still be bound to certain stipulations. These could include paying any advertising costs already incurred, not relisting with another agent within a certain time period, and honoring the commission if any buyers are generated from marketing done while the home was listed. Again, this is why it’s so important to read the listing paperwork before you sign it. You need to have a clear understanding of your role and rights as the seller.

Finally, if you don’t feel the brokerage has handled your request for cancellation fairly, you can register a complaint with the local real estate commission. However, be forewarned that many listing agreements have a section devoted to mediation, litigation, and arbitration. You may agree to how a dispute is handled prior to one even arising.

If any portion of the listing agreement is unclear to you, it’s highly recommended that you consult an attorney. Only they – not a real estate agent, Realtor, broker-in-charge, or online source – can give you legal advice.

Ready to sell your Wilmington area home? Give us a call or send us a message through our contact page. We guarantee that, any time prior to the acceptance of an offer to purchase on your home, if you wish to terminate your listing agreement for non-performance, you may do so without question!

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About the Author
Meghan Henderson
Meghan is the Marketing Specialist for The Cameron Team and a published author of two young adult books. She also creates digital and printable planners and trackers, as well as coloring pages for Larkspur & Tea.