Q: My daughter is looking to buy her first home. She signed a contract with a Realtor but has been very disappointed with the outcome. She has been the one to do all the looking and arranging to see houses. The Realtor has shown little interest and put forth hardly any effort at all.
She recently put in a bid for an auction (which she did not win) but was told by him she didn’t win it even before the auction ended. We’re not sure he even placed her bid.
She asked to be released from his contract so she could sign with a more responsible agent. He refuses. What can she do?
A: It sounds to me that your daughter has signed some sort of exclusive buyer’s agent representation agreement. These sorts of arrangements are rarer than you might expect. Sellers tend to sign listing agreements, but most buyers don’t sign anything other than an agency disclosure agreement with a buyer’s agent.
Your daughter should read her contract. There must be an ending to it or some sort of termination clause, particularly for a buyer’s agent contract. If not, it’s a great lesson never to sign a contract that doesn’t have some sort of mechanism for termination.
Still, there are other options. Is the agreement with the agent or the brokerage firm? If it’s with the brokerage firm, then contact the managing broker and ask to be released for the contract or to have a different agent represent her.
In fact, your daughter should contact the managing broker of the firm this agent works for an issue a complaint about the way she has been treated. Most agents, especially in the current economic environment, would love to have a buyer who is ready, willing, and able to plunk down some cash and move into a home.
If these suggestions don’t work, then you’ll need to talk with an attorney who can help the agent understand that you’re ready to go, and he should cancel the representation.
If the agent’s actions are sufficiently egregious, your daughter can also file a complaint with the local, state and national Realtors’ association. That won’t do much, but it will make her feel better. Also, she can file a complaint with the state agency that licenses agents and brokers. She may be able to ask for an investigation. Likewise, she can file a negative complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBBonline.org).
But remember, that just because the Realtor failed to take care of some issues, what the agent did or did not do may not be sufficient to cancel the agreement.
At a minimum, you’d want to hire an agent who meets some of your expectations, and if your agent has met none of them, the brokerage house that the agent works for should be willing to work with you to find a suitable replacement.