Buyers: What to Do When Your Realtor Quits You—or Just Quits

Ditched by your Realtor in the 11th hour? Here's what a smart homebuyer should do.

Realtors have been fleeing the profession like Atkins devotees from a cupcake boutique. And it’s no wonder -- the combo meal of plummeting home prices, the slowdown in sales and their own adjusting mortgage payments has made it pretty stinking tough to make a living as a Realtor.

So what happens if your Realtor quits the business during your deal? Or just quits you? Well, that depends on where you are in your homebuying escapade. (As an aside, most Realtors who decide to leave the business will have a trusted Realtor colleague step in to work with their existing clients.)

The most common time frame for Realtor flight is during the house hunt. Once you’re in contract, the average Realtor will see your deal through, as they have already done the hardest part of earning their commission. On occasion, though, Realtors have been known to quit the biz or their buyer during an interminable short sale escrow, while waiting on the sellers’ lender’s response to your offer.

I Know the Feeling. So what’s a smart homebuyer to do in the event you get ditched by your Realtor? It’s normal to feel deserted, rejected and like you’ve been hand-delivered into the mercy of a bunch of people with more real estate experience and savvy than you: namely, the seller and listing agent.

Your Mindset Reset. About the worst thing that could happen to you as a buyer would be to have a Realtor you don’t like, don’t trust or continually butt heads with. So instead of feeling rejected, feel gratitude that your Realtor opted out of your homebuying experience before any damage was done.

Do try, though, to get clear on why you got fired in the first place. If your Realtor just left the business, that's certainly no fault of yours. But if you were unable to successfully buy a home for a very long period of time and you were constantly disregarding the well-founded advice of your Realtor, you may want to consider whether you had any responsibility in driving the Realtor to drink, I mean, to quit. Responsibility is the ability to respond. Owning up to your role in your Realtor’s defection empowers you to do things differently on the next go round.

Your Drama-Free Real Estate Rx. If it happens during a deal, approach the Realtor’s managing broker for representation through closing. If the broker demurs for any reason, you have the option of hiring a real estate attorney to represent you for the rest of your transaction and to negotiate with the broker to pay the attorney’s fee out of the buyer’s broker’s commission.

If your Realtor drops you before you go into contract, or even if you simply don’t feel your Realtor has your best interests at heart, hire another one -- and quickly! Don’t lose momentum. If you have signed an exclusive buyer’s broker agreement, make sure you get it canceled -- in writing. Don’t talk to their broker or beg them to stay. You really don’t want to work with a Realtor who has less than their whole heart in it. In fact, you need to know with certainty that your Realtor has your back in a big way and lets you know how delighted they are to work for you.

Tara’s Freak-Out Prevention Tip: When you first select your Realtor, do so very carefully. Prioritize professionals who you learn about by referral and who work as full-time Realtors. These folks treasure their professional reputations and are much less likely to drop you like a bad habit.

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