I’m Not Happy with My REALTOR®…What Can I Do?

For anyone who has ever bought or sold a home, you know that it can be a stressful process. That stress can be amplified if you and your agent aren’t seeing eye to eye. But what can you do if you’re unhappy with your REALTOR®? Is it acceptable to “break up,” or are you forced to stick it out?

Start out on the right foot

When a relationship breakdown occurs, it is sometimes the result of not selecting the right agent from the beginning. When choosing a REALTOR®, start by asking friends, family, and neighbors for referrals. Word-of-mouth recommendations are often the best and most reliable way to find a trusted agent. In fact, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 2020 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 40% of buyers used an agent who was referred to them by a friend, neighbor, or relative.

Once you have a few names, use the internet to your advantage and do some research. Visit the REALTORS®’ websites and social media pages and check out reviews.

Most importantly, when we’re talking about an investment as large as a home, don’t just go with the first name you find. According to NAR’s report, 78 percent of repeat buyers and 67 percent of first-time buyers interviewed only one agent, while most experts suggest interviewing at least three.


Set expectations

Conflict can arise when expectations differ. REALTOR® Pat Feldpausch with RE/MAX Real Estate Professionals Dewitt says the more conversations you have upfront, the better off everyone will be in the end.

“Your agent should be setting the stage for you right from the start—what the current market conditions are, what the process will be like, what potential pitfalls may pop up, etc.,” he said. “And as the client, you should also be discussing your expectations with your agent. When issues arise, I find that all parties tend to react much more favorably when they’re fully prepared and have honest, open communication with each other.”

Feldpausch brings up an important point. Many failed agent/client relationships come down to poor communication. Discuss how your REALTOR® will keep you informed and how often you should expect to hear from them. For instance, if you’re a seller who expects daily updates, but your agent only provides weekly status reports, you’ll likely run into conflict.


Figure out where the breakdown is

Let’s say you did your research and selected a REALTOR® who you felt was the best fit for your needs. However, for whatever reason the two of you just aren’t working well together. Before you break things off, try speaking with your agent to explain why you’re unhappy.

“While there are bad apples in any industry, most REALTORS® are very compassionate, and they value their client relationships,” said Feldpausch. “Sometimes an agent might not even be aware that you aren’t pleased with their services and all it takes is a candid discussion to turn things around.” 

Also, be sure to consider whether you are being unreasonable. For instance, if you’re a seller who insists on listing at your desired price instead of the one suggested by your REALTOR®, you shouldn’t only blame your REALTOR® when the home takes longer to sell. As they say, it takes two to tango and sometimes both parties need to give a little to ensure a successful transaction.


Talk to the broker

Of course, there will be times when the relationship just does not work out, regardless of how much effort you both put into it. If you find yourself in a situation where you are truly unhappy with your agent, it’s best to contact the broker.

“The broker may be able to resolve the issue between you and your agent or they may refer you to another agent within the company who can better serve your needs,” said Feldpausch. “Remember that the broker technically owns the contract, so if issues can’t be resolved, they’ll need to release you from the contract before you can sign on with another company.”

As with any relationship, breaking up is never easy. The best way to avoid an unpleasant situation is to research potential agents, ask the right questions, and have honest communication about your expectations. For a list of local agents, visit the Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS® website at www.lansing-realestate.com.