Listing agreement with no end date confuses homeowner
Tribune Content Agency Q: InMaywe
signed an undated Realtor-prepared listing agreement. The agreement indicates a starting date but no expiration date. Is the agreement valid? If not, can we terminate it? If so, and we terminate the agreement, can we proceed with a sale to a buyer that was brought by the Realtor? If so, can the Realtor bring legal action against us for the sale? something that allows you to cancel it. If not, and you do wish to cancel the agreement, as a first step you might want to reach out to the managing broker of the firm and have a discussion about why you want to cancel the agreement, and how it might happen.
The response you get from the managing broker will determine what your next step should be. We’re hoping that the broker will be reasonable and after offering you a possible solution that keeps you as a client of the firm (such as switching agents, if that is the problem), the broker will give you a way to break the agreement without causing any long-term pain.
It’s possible that you’ll need to agree to “protect the broker” (meaning, you’ll pay a commission) if anyone saw the property during the time it was listed. That’s a fair request. If you do that, then quality brokers generally will agree to part on friendly terms.
If the conversation doesn’t go well, you should consult with a real estate attorney who can advise you of your options.
It seems rather strange to us that your listing agreement has no end date. There are some listing agreements that don’t show an end date, but limit the listing agreement to six months or one year. This listing agreement may be flawed by failing to list an end date, unless the laws in your state imply that a listing agreement without an end date will expire after a certain length of time.
One last issue: If your broker found you a buyer during the time of the listing, it would seem to us that you’d owe that broker the commission. If you are trying to bypass the broker and avoid paying the commission, you’d probably be in the wrong and the broker would probably have a right to sue you for the unpaid commission. However, if the buyer that saw your home comes to you many months (or maybe years) after the listing has expired, you might not have to pay the broker a commission.
Frequently listing agreements have a time after the expiration date of the agreement to protect the listing broker from this exact event. This protection period can be six months or it could be one year. Make sure you discuss how long the protection period will last when you speak with the managing broker. Good luck.