You're Fired


No this isn’t The Apprentice, Cat in the Hat, or Cruella - but you might be the next agent out of the job. 

Why due diligence, reading your listing agreement, and looking for warning signs are invaluable.

Why to avoid:

Choosing a Realtor is not easy. There are over 3000 that serve the Greater Spokane Area. Although that number can feel like you have a magnitude of options, maybe even too many, the reality is that 10% of the agents in Spokane do about 90% of all the business. So the reality is there are about 300 agents that are constantly in the mix, keeping up with the market and are fluent in writing the very best contracts on their clients' behalf. To have the wrong, ill-equipped agent in charge of the sale or purchase of your property could be logistically and financially devastating.

Here are some signs to look for:

1. Lack of Communication

The good, the bad, and even the ugly are easier to take when you are upfront and honest with your clients. The best agents will usually set aside time once a week just to update sellers on their homes and any showings – even if there were none. That way, you at least know what is going on. If there is a preferred method (text, call, or email) and hours of availability for communication, it's important to talk about it at the initial meeting to make sure communication is easily accessible. It's one thing if your agent can't return your phone call for a few hours. It's another thing if you never hear back, or if your agent doesn't think to update you ever.

2. Advocating for their Interests, not yours

This is probably the second biggest complaint I hear from people I work with who had been working with an agent previously: "They kept showing us split-level homes when we said we need main floor living." "They know we want to stay in the same school district, and then show us homes too far away." Perhaps this falls under the communication bit. But sometimes your agent just can't seem to get on the same page as you and your needs. Worse is an agent who is putting their interests before yours, only showing you listings they represent, or in a neighborhood they frequent so it's easier to show, or not taking into general consideration the lifestyle of the buyer and getting creative with other avenues to find the right home for their clients.

3. Low Market Expertise

They may be new, part-time, work primarily in a different area, or are just clueless. When you're spending six figures, being off by even 1% is $1000s. I feel market knowledge is one of my personal strengths, and yet it is not the case that I can just walk into any house and give you a home value. I spend a lot of time on the MLS researching neighborhoods and comparables, even in neighborhoods that I know well. Every house is different, and the market is always changing. You absolutely need an agent who can do this. Someone who knows how to evaluate the market, neighborhood, and home value – as a buyer or seller. When they recommend a home value, they should have actual sales data in the same neighborhood backing up their story.

4. Bad Marketing

There are a lot of different elements that go into selling your home. The one that is entirely the responsibility of your agent is exposure. Marketing. In hot markets like Austin at the moment, it is often as easy as slapping it on the MLS and waiting for it to fly off the shelf with multiple offers. That doesn't cut it in the Spokane market. You want to ensure your agent is doing something more than just putting it on the MLS. The information needs to be complete and accurate. Home searches miss hundreds of potetnial buyers because of the lack or missing details on the property. Putting it Zillow, Homesnap,, and other online resources are great but if they don't have a comprehensive marketing plan to sell the subject property, that might be the bigger issue.

5. You Don't Get Along

This may not be the agent's fault. Maybe you just clash. Like pepperoni pizza and mint chocolate ice cream – great on their own, but not so much together. Life is too short to work with someone you don't like on something so important as buying or selling your house. Hopefully, you would have figured this out long before you started working with an agent. Usually, if you're not getting along, it is because of both a personality clash and also one of the other issues on this list – maybe bad communication. The personality clash just makes it worse. Check out my homebuyer and homeseller personality tests for a fun glimpse at perhaps what your buying/selling personality is!

6. Unethical Behavior

Yowsers. Hopefully, you don't run into this, but if you do… There is a Realtor Code of Ethics. Agents and their brokers who fail on this count can face consequences far more serious than just losing your business. They can be publicly reprimanded, fined, or even have their license suspended. They should have been given a 'Law of Agency' pamphlet prior to signing the exclusive listing agreement. The pamphlet will advise you on your rights as a client.

How to Fire Your Agent

The Contract Expires.

The listing or buyer representation agreement has a set term, the end of which you are (mostly) free to move on. Listing agreements usually last about six months, but it is 100% negotiable and depends on each Realtor's business model. For example, I myself offer a 1-month listing term for some sellers if they qualify. Buyer Representation Agreements' terms vary a little more – 3 and 6 months are probably the most common. What about the 'mostly'? Listing agreements and buyer representation agreements have a protection period in them, often 30 days (negotiable in the contract). An agent has 10 days to send you a list of buyers or homes that they helped find for you. You are still obligated to a commission if you sell to those buyers or buy that home during the protection period. The protection period is voided if you sign a listing agreement/representation agreement with another agent.

Before the Contract Expires

What if you still have months left on your contract? Are you stuck? Often you can simply request to terminate representation early, and most agents I know will probably consent. I personally don't want to work with someone who doesn't want to work with me or is dissatisfied. If there is an issue that can't be resolved, the best thing is often just to move on. If your agent or brokerage declines to terminate an agreement early, then you are indeed stuck, unless your agent has breached their agreement (for example, done something unethical). If that's the case, things are probably complicated, and it may even be time for a lawyer, and seek legal counsel. **Note – there may be fees still involved with terminating a listing early. Some expenses the Realtor may have already made might be refundable.

What if I'm in the Middle of a Deal?

If something occurs and you already have a contract with a buyer or seller, it is not as easy as simply walking away. First, try to work the issue out with the agent. Perhaps they are unaware of what they've done that you find so objectionable. If an understanding can't be reached, you can request that the agent's broker reassign you to a different agent in the same office, or perhaps be represented the rest of the way by the broker themselves. Single agent brokerages don't have anyone else, and the path forward may be a little more difficult and complicated in these instances

What Do You Do Now?

Don't let one experience ruin your opinion of all agents. The reasons for hiring an agent to represent you as a buyer or seller are still the same. Find someone who is serious, has good market info, doesn't waste your time, and is committed to providing value, and don't make the same mistakes twice.

Pick the advocates that actively choose your personal advocate vs. some agent.

Get ready, get set... Let me know when you're ready to take the next step.

Carlson & Co Real Estate

Your Neighborhood Expert

Service, not sales


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