If your home has been on the market for a while and you haven’t been able to sell it, you’re bound to start checking your paperwork to see when your contract with your real estate agent is up. And you’re probably also wondering just what happens when your real estate agreement does, in fact, expire.
Here’s the deal—and how to handle the situation once a real estate listing and contract have reached their end.
When you sign a contract with a real estate agent to advertise your home as for sale, that contract will include an expiration date—usually one that’s three to six months in the future. When you hit the end of that time frame, the real estate agreement has expired, and your listing will be removed from the multiple listing service—also called the MLS—and platforms like realtor.com®. And that means buyers can’t buy it off these platforms, either.
But that’s not all: An expired real estate agreement also means you’re no longer tied to your real estate agent. That’s because the amount of time you agreed to list the house as “For Sale” is also the length of time you agreed to have a specific real estate agent represent you. The agent has that time period to pull out all the stops and try to find a buyer, earning her commission and selling your home.
But once the listing has expired, this means that your home is unrepresented and free game for other agents to contact you.
What happens when a real estate agreement expires?
Once that real estate agreement has expired, it’s time for you to make some tough choices. Do you want to pull your house off the market, or keep trying to sell it? If you still want to sell, do you want to continue working with your agent, or do you want to find someone new?
Keep in mind that an expired real estate agreement is not necessarily a sign you need to fire your agent, says Karen Wisne, an agent with Century 21 Joe Walker & Assoc. in Westerville, OH.
“Switching agents or companies may not give you the magic bullet that produces a buyer,” Wisne says. “Talk with your real estate agent about why the house hasn’t sold and what your expectations are.”
It may be that your home was priced too high, or maybe you need to bring in a stager to better present the home to potential buyers. You may want to make some minor home improvements or improve your curb appeal to make the house more attractive.
Should you fire your real estate agent?
What if you do want to fire your agent and find someone new? There are times this is the way to go, Sales says, especially if you realize your agent didn’t do a good job of helping present your home in the best possible light. After all, it’s an agent’s job to lead the way on a sale, not the client’s.
“If you and your agent have had back-and-forth debates about how to price your home, and if your agent listened to you, it may be time to let another agent represent you,” Sales says. “The best agents won’t let clients dictate how to price a home. If your home’s expiration is a result of your agent giving in to your demands, it’s time to get a new agent.”
How to end a contract with a real estate agent
In general, you’ll be able to walk away scot-free from an expired real estate agreement, although you’ll want to review your contract to be sure you don’t owe any fees. And you shouldn’t have a hard time finding a new agent, especially in a competitive market.
“The day your home’s listing expires, you’ll likely be bombarded with phone calls from other agents who are going to tell you why you should let them sell your house for you,” Sales says
In some particularly hot markets, agents have been known to ring the doorbell of homes that recently came off the market, trying to pitch the owner face to face.
If you’re open to relisting with another real estate agent, it’s important that you do your homework and make sure you pick the right one this go-around.
Interview agents, and ask them questions. Make sure they have a recent track record of getting homes sold within their target time frame.
Whomever you go with, listen to their advice.
As seen on:Realtor.com