I am frequently contacted by buyers and sellers asking my opinion about things their realtors have done and seeking my advice as to whether they should find a new one. Sometimes they are not happy because their home hasn’t sold. Sometimes, they’re buyers who have lost out on their dream home (most often in multiple offer situations) and want to know if it’s their realtor’s fault. Other times they have signed a listing agreement and on reflection, don’t like the terms.
As much as I’d love to respond, I am prohibited by law from communicating with someone who is represented by a realtor without the written consent of the other realtor. It’s for that reason that you will often see on advertising: “not intended to solicit persons already under representation agreements” or words to that effect.
Communicating is considered a form of solicitation, and we are not permitted to solicit another realtor’s client without potentially being subject to disciplinary action.
Section 7 of the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, or REBBA, which governs realtors in this province (referred to throughout as “registrants”), states:
- (1) A registrant who knows or ought to know that a person is a client of another registrant shall communicate information to the person for the purpose of a trade in real estate only through the other registrant, unless the other registrant has consented in writing. O. Reg. 580/05, s. 7 (1).
- (2) If a broker or salesperson knows or ought to know that a buyer or seller is a party to an agreement in connection with a trade in real estate with a brokerage other than the brokerage that employs the broker or salesperson, the broker or salesperson shall not induce the buyer or seller to break the agreement. O. Reg. 580/05, s. 7 (2).
The Registrar responsible for REBBA construes this section strictly. It applies even if someone contacts me, as opposed to me contacting them. And so whenever someone does contact me to ask my advice about their realtor, I can’t give it.
What I can say is this: If you are not happy with your agent, have a chat with them and explain why . They’re not mind-readers so if you don’t tell them you’re feeling uncomfortable, you’re not giving them a chance to explain something you may not understand fully, or improve the situation, or try harder. In my experience, as in life generally, most problems with relationships are the result of poor communications. Start there.
If you can’t work things out after that discussion, and you are still unhappy, arrange to talk to the manager of the brokerage.
Your contract is not with the agent you are dealing with, but with the brokerage itself (in my case, for example, with Royal LePage Team Realty).
If there’s a problem, the brokerage appreciates knowing about it; in my brokerage, for example, before we terminate a listing agreement, our owner, Kent Browne, asks that he be informed so that he can try to repair the relationship.
Brokerages want happy clients. It’s not good for anyone to have a client who is fuming silently, or is confused, or doesn’t feel they are getting good service, and if there is a problem with a particular agent, the broker/manager definitely wants to know about it so that they can keep an eye on things.
Sometime the solution is have a different realtor in the same office step in and take over. I’ve done that a couple of times myself, where the client and I simply weren’t on the same page— I offered to step aside and referred them to another realtor who I thought they’d get along with better. Not everyone clicks, and these are stressful situations. You need to work with someone whose judgment you trust and who you feel comfortable with. Sometimes that’s all it is: nothing wrong with that realtor in particular, but just not a good fit. That happens.
So if you’re not happy with your realtor, the first step shouldn’t be approaching a new one to ask for advice because legally, we can’t give it. Instead, maybe you can try clearing the air.