Dos and Don’ts of Replacing a LIsting Agent

Dated: February 9 2023

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On occasion, a listing agent misses the mark in a divorce case and the parties may want to terminate that relationship in pursuit of a better fit. 


It happens! But with written listing agreements in place as well as active MLS listings, there are both contractual and compliance guidelines that you and your clients need to be aware of before you request orders from the court or agree by stipulation to offboard an agent and onboard a new one:


  1. Expiration: If the listing is terminated prior to its expiration, then in most cases, the listing agent will also need to agree to terminate it. The agent may have invested money and time in the listing and may not agree to peacefully “exit stage left.” Or, the agent may require reimbursement for their expenses and time invested. It may be better to wait it out and let it expire, or try and work through the issues, depending on the situation.

  2. Contractual Obligation: Before another agent can ethically take a listing that’s already listed, there must be a signed cancellation of the contract that’s currently in place. Be mindful that if your client retains a new agent before canceling the old one, your client may be on the hook for two commissions!

  3. MLS: The Multiple Listing Service is a membership-based database for licensed agents and is the basis for syndication to consumer sites such as Zillow, Redfin, etc. According to the MLS terms of use, there can only be one active listing at a time. That means that the current listing must not only be canceled contractually; it must also be canceled out of the MLS before a new agent can input a new listing. 


I recommend that before taking action to replace a listing agent, consider whether or not the listing agent is the cause for the house not selling. In our current market, houses have been sitting across the board, even with the most skilled agents at the helm. Divorce listings are commonly problematic, of course, due to one party refusing showings, poor property condition, poor communication, conflict between the parties that prevents the listing from progressing — the list goes on. 


Indeed, a highly trained and skilled agent in divorce listings is crucial to the success of the listing and preservation of property value. But untangling from a contractually bound listing can be sticky. It’s best to give careful thought and consideration to retaining the best listing agent from the start: That often means not hastily agreeing to the friend, relative, or whomever agrees to a bargain-basement commission, without doing due diligence as to whether or not they’re really up to the challenges that divorce listings present. 


As always, my goal is for you and your clients to have the best and most competent representation for your cases. My training and the Code of Ethics I uphold as a Certified Divorce Real Estate Expert was designed to meet and mitigate the challenges of selling the house in divorce cases. 

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Portland Oregon Divorce Realtor, Laura Rumford CDRE®

Laura Rumford is a Principal Broker and she has also earned the prestigious CDRE™ - Certified Divorce Real Estate Expert - along with a multitude of other designations, setting her apart as a li....

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