Question: We signed a six-month listing to sell our home in Globe. After four months, the real estate broker has only shown our home to one potential buyer. We are panicking because we need to sell our Globe home to finalize the purchase of our new home in Mesa, which is closer to our children.
We want to list our Globe home now with another real estate broker. When we contacted our real estate broker, however, he said that the listing was not cancelable. Is there anything that we can do?
Answer: A listing agreement is a bilateral contract with both the seller and the listing broker having obligations to perform. Therefore, a listing agreement can only be canceled if both the seller and the listing broker agree to cancel the listing agreement, unless either party materially breaches the listing agreement.
For example, if the seller refuses to cooperate in showing the home to prospective buyers, the listing broker may be able to cancel the listing agreement. Similarly, if the listing broker doesn’t actively market the property and refuses to return phone calls from potential buyers, the seller may be able to cancel the listing agreement.
In today’s real estate market, the showing of your home to one potential buyer does not necessarily mean that the listing broker has materially breached the listing agreement. Therefore, unless you can prove that your real estate broker has not been actively marketing your Globe home, or is otherwise in material breach of the listing agreement, the listing agreement is enforceable for the entire six-month term.
As a practical matter, however, most listing brokers do not want to work with unhappy sellers. They will seriously consider a request to cancel a listing from an unhappy seller, especially if the listing broker’s marketing costs are reimbursed by the unhappy seller.
If you would like assistance regarding commercial or residential transactions, potential litigation, HOA issues, estate planning or other legal matters, please call our office at 602.957.9810 and arrange for an initial consultation with one of our real estate attorneys.