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Listing agent won't take our property off MLS despite our request

We want to take our house off the market and our agent says he will not remove it from MLS until the contract with their brokerage is over. He will only list is as TEMP (no showings). Is that legal? If we don't want to sell our place anymore can he really keep it within the MLS system? 
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September 30 2013 - US
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Yes, that's legal, but if this really bothers you, confer with an attorney to see if you have any recourse.
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September 30 2013
That's a frustrating position to be in...and a very short-sighted and naive position that your agent has taken.

The short answer is this: It depends on your listing contract, so you'll need to refer back to that (and possibly an attorney) on the legality of the situation. 

The realistic answer is this: Inform your agent that you will not be allowing any showings, you will not be accepting any offers, and he is simply wasting time and creating unhappy clients. If he refuses, then I would suggest calling up the designated broker of his office to discuss your situation.

Frankly, it doesn't do anybody any good to keep a home on the market that a seller won't sell...unless your agent wants to continue using the listing for self-promotional marketing purposes (which is probably why he wants to keep it "listed"). It does, however, waste people's time and create animosity. There have been many times when I've had a home listed, the contract was valid for many more months, and then life "happened" and the seller was not able to sell or move at that time - so we promptly cancelled the listing for them. 

My thought is that I could either:
A) Take a hard line stance, stick to the contract, maybe collect a commission, and kiss those clients goodbye after the contract expires; or
B) Actually represent my clients, follow their wishes, and create a good long-term working relationship. 

Perhaps passing that along to your agent would be helpful to him (and his career)! 

Ryan Halset, Realtor
Seattle, Wa | Seattle Magazine, Best in Client Satisfaction
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September 30 2013

Thr listing contract specifies the length of the contract.  If you have questions about the contract you should contact the broker of record for your listing office.  In short , most contracts allow the listing to remain as withdrawn.  At minimum the remarks can be changed to reflect property is off the market.

The listing may also stay a period beyond the listing that the brokerage listing the property is covered if the property is sold after the listing period expires if the brokerage agents or cobrokes showing the property under the agreement will be compensated. 

In either case, the listing office should be able to clarify this with you. 

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September 30 2013
That's poor practice on the part of your agent.

Have you tried speaking with the broker of record or office manager?  Start there and make your case.

Good luck!
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September 30 2013
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Thanks for everyone's help. The agent will not agree to end our contract, we have proof points that he has violated the code of ethics and we filed a request for arbitration. It's been a horrific experience. We are counting the days until we can either terminate the contract through arbitration or next summer when the contract expires. 
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October 01 2013
By listing your property as TEMP (I'm not entirely familiar with that status but I have an idea what it means), it sounds like your agent is not operating in good faith or in your best interests - that could be grounds for a violation right there.  It's a little bit surprising that the broker of record would not want to resolve this case instead of creating bad blood.

What state do you reside in?  It might be worth looking at your state laws for the length of time a listing contract can legally be written for.  If you must wait for Summer for the contract to terminate....it sounds like the contract was written for a year, perhaps?
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October 01 2013
Re-read the listing contract.   It's probably legal, but I think we would all concur that it is not very ethical.    

You may want to call the agents broker.  
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October 01 2013
Honorable agents would be horrified if their clients were dissatisfied and would do anything to repair the situation to gain their trust and confidence. Once the relationship is beyond repair and the clients want the listing cancelled, the agent and broker should apologize and humbly let it go. Dirtbag agents do what your agent is doing. The broker will often offer another agent from the brokerage to work on your listing. If you do still wish to sell your house, but not with the agent who let you down, this may be an option for you if you'd consider having the same brokerage involved. If you wish to cancel the listing and have cause, any agent and broker with a stitch of integrity should honor the request. Unfortunately, integrity is in short supply these days. I'm so sorry this has happened to you. It seems that a strong work ethic and commitment to customer service Is no longer the norm. You should not be punished for the failure of the realtor to properly perform his duties.
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October 01 2013
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Unfortunately the agent and his wife own the brokerage, so we don't have options for other agents within their organization. Our agent has also told us that he will not put a "for sale" sign up in front of our house unless we pay a $500 deposit, he is not going to conduct any showings and we are 99% sure that he has moved, and living in a different state (his wife and kids moved and we feel that he has also moved now).

He is accusing us of slander because we said that if we could not end our agreement on good terms (and we did offer to pay him out) we'd share our experiences on regulatory and consumer review sites. And that was enough to really tick him off so he's completely sabotaging our efforts. It's been a horrific experience and makes me want to never try to sell our property again. 
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October 01 2013
I do not believe that whatever you say on review sites, etc. is slander if it is the truth. Check with an attorney.

I'd suggest you contact the Board of Realtors in your area as well as the Department of Real Estate or whatever it's called in your state to seek direction.

Continue with your arbitration efforts. I'm so sorry your agent has no honor, integrity or embarrassment for his shameful behavior.
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October 01 2013
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When I had issues with the broker, I found that a well-worded letter to the franchising agency for his brokerage obtained results that I was unable to get on my own. Of course, this will be problematic if they are an independent.
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October 01 2013
Ryan

I have to strenuously disagree with your point.  When a seller signs a listing contract it is just as binding as a sales contract and just an enforceable.

Some agents actually pay their own marketing expense.  They don't get a free ride from the Broker.  They invest in professional photos, advertising campaigns, featured listings on Realtor.com, pre marketing cleaning, staging, yard work etc.  The agent might have invested his own money with the expectation he would have 6 months to market the property and not be in the hole.

If the seller would reimburse the agent for those out of pocket expenses perhaps cancellation without cause is reasonable.

However if the seller just finds it inconvenient to keep showing the property at this time of the year I'd say - the agent is well within their rights.  The agent can note in the private remarks that the home is not being shown.  They can hopefully - through their internet advertising pick up a buyer who may buy something else and therefore allow them to recoup their investment.

Real estate is a business and should be run like any other business.  Cancel your cable or cell phone service early and see what happens.
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October 01 2013
Profile picture for Dunes ..
The OP
"(and we did offer to pay him out)"



Thumbs up Ryan

user 695... sorry to hear the experience has turned into such a negative one, hopefully next time will be better...

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October 01 2013
Dear "Call The Sisters",
I'm not sure why you felt the need to specifically write a note that "strenuously disagree(d)" with me, but since you did, I am happy to open the discussion on this and defend my position. 

I would like to note that different companies (whatever sector they may be in) do approach business with different philosophies. Let's take department stores for example. You have Nordstrom's who is simply the gold-standard for customer service. They take returns well after they should (without a receipt) and even returns from other stores! It's simply amazing. You also have thrift stores where all sales are final...even though the items were donated to them in the first place. All that to say - there isn't one "right" way to do business. 

Now, let's get to some of your comments. 
You implied that I do not "actually" pay for my own marketing expenses. I do. Every penny of them. So you can stop assuming that I may not understand what it means to put my money where my mouth is. Trust me, I understand, I've been there, and I sympathize. 

I also never said the contract was NOT enforceable. My point was much bigger than that. You have a client who no longer wants to sell. You have a few choices: 1) Strong-Arm them into holding to the contract. 2) Allow them out out of the contract. 3) Compromise on another solution. 

From a business perspective, I don't believe that holding firm to the contract and antagonizing the client is a good long term business strategy. I have cancelled listings for clients before...and re-listed down the road. I'm in this for the long-haul, so I'm in the business of creating happy clients. 

From a personal perspective: I know that I personally prefer being treated like I'm actually cared about. On the other hand, I don't like being treated like a commission. If someone treats me the way I'd like to be treated...even if I don't end up using their services...there's a very good chance that I'll think positively of that person and will speak positively of them to others.

Come to think of it - I have a good example. Recently, I had an elderly seller want to cancel a listing (that still had 3 months left on it). Did I force her to honor the contract and reimburse me for the professional marketing I paid for? Absolutely not. I did whatever I could to make her life easier because that is the decent thing to do. I didn't expect anything from her. I had well over $1000 invested into marketing and preparing that listing, by the way. 

What did happen is that she spoke well of me to her son. Guess what - I listed his house, sold it, and sold his family a new one. Do you think she would have passed a good word along if I forced her to stay in contract against her will? I don't. Do you? You know what else? I found out several months later that she didn't want to move because she had found out she had cancer. Looking back, boy am I glad I didn't take a hard-line "business" stance with her. 

I told myself early on in my career that I was going to take care of people the way I'd like to be treated, learn as much as I possibly could in my field, and help to the best of my ability. It's not about the money, it's about being the best that you can be...and the money will follow. I was able to settle with myself that I will work hard and sometimes it will result in a commission and sometimes it will not. I knew that sometimes I would spend money on a listing and it wouldn't pan out. You know what I did? I actually budget for it instead of trying to squeeze each customer for every penny or forcing them to do something they no longer wanted to do. 

Sometimes people will need my services and sometimes they will not...and that's okay. Sometimes life happens in the middle of a contract and things change. I'll be very candid that this approach has served me very well in my business...but even if it didn't, I could look at myself in the mirror and know that I treated people the way I'd like to be treated. 

You finished by saying that "real estate is a business and should be run like any other business. Cancel your cable or cell phone service early and see what happens". 

So I'll finish with this - I don't want to be thought of like a cable company or cell phone company. Do you?

I suppose that if I could choose (and I can), I will do my best to run my business more like a Nordstrom's...and less like a thrift store. 

Kindly, 
Ryan Halset, Realtor
Seattle Magazine, Best in Client Satisfaction
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October 01 2013
Dunes

Pardon me I did not see that an offer was made to the agent, however:

I did say : If the seller would reimburse the agent for those out of pocket expenses perhaps cancellation without cause is reasonable.

I also specified "without cause" If the agent did not perform their duties as outlined in the listing agreement then I am totally in agreement that the listing should be cancelled without hardship to the seller.

Too many sellers decide to cancel - not because the agent did not do a good job, but because they think the grass is greener on the other side of the road.
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October 01 2013
Profile picture for Dunes ..
"I did say : If the seller would reimburse the agent for those out of pocket expenses perhaps cancellation without cause is reasonable."

Absolutely did
My only intent was to point out perhaps you were both more on the same page than it seemed.

I don't see anything wrong with the page ;)




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October 01 2013
OK, you have bigger problems than the original post, which I think we've answered.

We cannot adjudicate this for you. If you want a release from the listing contract, you should consult with an attorney.

All the best,
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October 01 2013
Profile picture for Dunes ..
user695....



Thanks for sharing and I hope you'll keep us updated on how it works out for you...

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October 02 2013
We want to take our house off the market and our agent says he will not remove it from MLS until the contract with their brokerage is over. He will only list is as TEMP (no showings). Is that legal? If we don't want to sell our place anymore can he really keep it within the MLS system? 

Read your list contract... Some Brokerages hold to this rule.  Using the status of "Off Market" or "Withdrawn" keeps you withing the confines of your List Brokerages control. Your listing is no longer exposed to Public Sites and Realtor.com;   The purpose is to avoid Sellers who have alternative motives.  "Unconditional Withdrawal' or 'Expired" allows the Seller to List with another Brokerage or to Sell by Owner.  
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October 02 2013
If you no longer want to have your home listed and have a signed contract, you can call the association of realtors in your area where it is listed and have them remove the home from active.  If you fire the agent with written notice, he is entitled to the commission if the home sales during the time of the contract but if you terminate the listing, he will still technically have the contract but the home will not be listed anymore.  At the end of the day, the contract only protects the realtor during the time of the contract if the home sales, he is entitled to the commission.  It is sad that he is giving you this kind of problem, he is most likely keeping the listing active to try and generate buyer leads from calls to see the property from potential buyers.
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October 02 2013
 
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