Listing agreements are legally binding contracts utilized by home sellers and real estate agents when selling personal or commercial property. The process to end a listing agreement prior to the end of its contractual life, generally six months, will differ from state to state. In Texas, the state provides little if any support in terms of appeals or involvement. However, that does not mean sellers are left without options if the relationship with an agent goes sour.
Identify the Type of Agreement
Determine the type of listing agreement you have with your agent. The most common agreement a seller is asked to sign is an exclusive listing. This gives the listing agent sole responsibility, and benefit, in the marketing of the home. However, there are also multiple listing agreements, open agreements and a host of others. The process for terminating each agreement will differ, as each provides a different contractual relationship.
Review Listing Agreement Provisions
Some real estate brokerages in Texas will allow for early termination of the agreement, with or without cause—akin to a "satisfaction guarantee." However, many are much more stringent. Also, a listing agreement may allow for early termination, however the seller will incur charges for terminating the listing agreement prior to completion.
Contact a Brokerage Principal
Contact the principal of the brokerage your agent works for, if applicable. As is the case with many businesses, when there is an unhappy client, a principal wants to ensure everything has been done to appease this person or persons. Whether or not a listing agreement allows for unilateral termination or not, the principal of a brokerage may very well side with the client.
Document Your Reasons for Terminating
Document the reasons for being dissatisfied. Assuming the desire to terminate a listing agreement is the result of something tangible, such as a lack of effort or incompetence on the part of the agent, document the reasons for feeling this way. This will provide substance to the claims, be it for a principal of a real estate firm or a judge.
Your reason for terminating the contract may simply be because of an economic or business change, such as your job transfer has been cancelled. In this case, you no longer have to move and your house is no longer for sale. A reputable agent or broker will be understanding of this situation.
Consult an Attorney
The state of Texas views listing agreements as a "private contractual matter." As such, if pursuing the matter in court becomes a necessity, it is important to be prepared with specific examples of shortcomings.
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