||Ask the Dollar Diva
How do I break a contract with
Dear Dollar Diva,
I am three months into a six-month contract with a Realtor to sell
my home. When he first got the listing, my agent posted it on the
Internet and the Multiple Listing Service, and put two ads in the
paper. He also put a sign in the front of my house with his name
and phone number on it.
He hasn't done a thing in the past two months. People
stop by my home for information because he doesn't return their
phone calls. I don't think he knows how to sell my home and I would
like to void my contract.
I have spoken to the Realtor about his agent not making
any effort to sell our home, and all I get is excuses. How do I
get out of this contract?
When Realtors are good, they are very, very good,
but when they are bad, they are awful. Selling a home is tough enough
without having to deal with an awful Realtor. The Diva offers the
following advice to help you get things back on track.
The real estate contract is a two-way street. You
agree to make your home available for showing, and the Realtor agrees
to use due diligence in the pursuit of buyers. Due diligence includes
such practices as advertising, listing in the multiple listing service,
preparing flyers and calling potential buyers back when they inquire
about the house.
If you are making your home available for showing
and the Realtor is doing nothing to find buyers, he is breaking
the contract. Send him a letter stating that by not practicing due
diligence in the pursuit of buyers for your home, he has violated
the agreement. Tell him that you have evidence that the agent is
not returning calls from potential buyers (the Diva hopes you wrote
down their names for future reference), and to your knowledge the
agent has done nothing to find buyers in over two months.
Give him one week to provide written validation of
the steps he has taken to find buyers for your home, including the
dates that the steps were taken. If he cannot provide satisfactory
written evidence of due diligence, tell him you will consider the
contract null and void and he is to acknowledge in writing that
he agrees that the contract is voided. Further, tell him if you
do not receive a response within one week you will take the matter
up with your local board of Realtors. Do everything quickly and
with a sense of urgency. If you have access to a fax, give him the
fax number to expedite his response.
Send the letter certified mail so you know he received
it, or hand deliver it and have the person receiving it sign for
it. If you don't hear from him within a week, call your local board
of Realtors and report him. Ask the person your dealing with to
e-mail or fax the complaint form, and get his fax number and e-mail
address for speedy future communication.
The Diva advises you not to list with another real
estate agent until this mess is cleared up. You don't want to add
insult to injury by ending up with two commissions to pay.
Here are some of the things you should ask about the
next time you're shopping for someone to sell your home:
- How many years he's been a full-time real
estate agent. Longevity counts.
- A list of homes that he's sold in the past
six months. None is the wrong number.
- A list of references from recent sales. Checking
references never hurts.
- Exactly what he intends to do to find buyers
over the period of the contract, and a time line of when he intends
to do each thing. Get this in writing.