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What if my Listing Brokerage goes out of business?

There’s talk on the street that the slow real estate market is taking its toll on some local brokerages. If you are currently under contract with a Brokerage and they close their office, you still have a legal contract.

If I had a home on the market, what I would probably do is to make sure I was able to cancel the listing agreement for any reason. If you did not put this into the original contract, then you won’t be able to cancel the contract unless the Listing Broker agrees to it. If your current Listing Broker goes AWOL without canceling the agreement, I doubt that another Brokerage can enter into a Listing Agreement with you if the other contract is still outstanding. You can add an addendum to your existing Listing Agreement that says you can cancel the original contract for any reason. I would consult an attorney to get the correct verbiage for the addendum.

If your Listing Broker refuses to add a cancellation clause to the listing agreement, then I think you’ll just have to cross your fingers that you don’t end up with a messy situation.

If you are looking to list your home, there are some things I would check before you sign any agreement:

– Ask the Listing Agent if they are full-time real estate or have another job
– Ask for a MLS report that shows all the properties sold in the last 6 months for both the Listing Agent and the Listing Brokerage (this is easy for the agent to provide so don’t take any excuses!).
– Find properties that are currently listed by the agent and drive by them to see if the flyer box is full. Plus, check out how good the presentation is online (the photos, description, etc.). It doesn’t really help to check other listings of the brokerage as the Listing Agent is usually the one that does the photography and marketing of a listing.
– Find out how many full-time agents there are in the Brokerage in case your Listing Agent takes another job and isn’t 100% focused on selling your home. Make it clear to the Listing Agent that you want to know if they take another job and can switch to another agent in the office. Since you’re Listing Agreement is with the Brokerage and not the agent, this isn’t a contract issue but you might want to chat with the Broker about this before you sign the agreement.
– Also, if it’s a small brokerage and you’re dealing with the Broker/Owner, realize that the Broker is also dealing with running their brokerage in addition to trying to sell your home.

In today’s market there are some Brokerages and Agents that are struggling to survive while others are doing just fine. Make sure you do your homework before you sign a legally binding agreement!

Written by Keith Byrd - Go to Keith's Website/Profile