How Much Should A Realtor Charge For Terminating A Listing?

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP 0524642

In Texas we have a form that requires the signature of both the seller and the listing agent before a listing can be correctly and technically terminated. Terminating the listing agreement allows the seller to "list with a new brokerage" without any strings attached to the previous brokerage. 

Most home sellers don't realize in order to "fire your agent" you must have this document signed by all parties. You can't just call up the Realtor and yell, 'You're fired!" It's a little more involved than that.

It's rare that it happens, but the fact of the matter is every Realtor will eventually have a seller that wants to fire them. Period. You can't make everyone happy.


But how much is the termination fee and what is it? 


The termination fee is typically a "mutually agreed upon" dollar amount that the seller agrees to pay the listing brokerage for services rendered. 

Let's talk about Betty, the bodacious listing agent. Last week one of her sellers called and demanded she terminate their agreement because she could not tolerate the fact that Betty is a registered Democrat who was overheard at a cocktail party discussing how she believes in alien abduction.  Here's the point, the REASON the seller wants to fire the listing agent is very relevant. We'll get into that further down, but let's assume Betty is a staunch believer in alien abduction and decides to terminate the listing... Betty should evaluate the situation, calculate her actual expenses and be able to articulate what her time spent equals in terms of dollars.


See Wikipedias description of the Theory of Quantum Meruit.



Here's an example:

Professional Photography: $250.00
Professional Staging: $1,500.00.
Professional Real Estate Fliers: $75.00.
The cost of the food and beverages for the open house: $50.00.
Time Spent preparing for the listing and hours "put into the listing" up until the time of termination: $4,000.00.


It's that last dollar amount that makes people unhappy. The gray area is what causes discontent, angry postings on Yelp and behind the scenes slander of the listing agent. Betty might not care, but in reality, she should.

I see no problem with going after money lost, but when it comes to "time spent" the dollar amount should be realistic and not with a lost commission attitude. Every listing scenario across the country can be different, but generally speaking, and in my humble opinion, a few hundred dollars should suffice "for time spent."


But what if Betty, the bodacious listing agent did something really terrible? Should the seller pay anything? 


Here's a few examples of why Betty shouldn't get paid a dime for terminating the listing:

1. Betty goes on vacation and vanishes from her duties and responsibilities and posts countless photo's of her drunk on Facebook while Realtors are trying to submit offers on said listing, but can't. 

2. She has committed an unethical act or broken the law.

3. If Betty's lack of experience, ineptness or ignorance has caused a deal to "fall through"...

4. Betty SWITCHED brokerages from company X to Company Y. Say from RE/MAX to XYZ Realty. 


Here are some poor reasons to "fire your agent" or "not pay them." 

1.  There haven't been any offers or showings and you know your home is overpriced. Or maybe your home is in terrible condition or is just plain filthy.

2.  Not enough people have shown up to the most recent open house. See the first example.

3.  The listing agent died her hair a funny color and is dating a a guy that the seller hates. 

4.  The listing agent is rude on Facebook about Obama, Hillary and gun laws. And takes too many selfies.

5.  The listing agent got fat and started smoking cigarettes. 


Personal problems with your listing agent don't warrant you not paying them what they've invested into attempting to sell your home. Period. Both the seller and the listing agent should be fair in terms of financial cost and reason when it comes to terminating the listing agreement. 

Posted by


Greg Nino
, Houston area Realtor®.
Helping residential buyers, sellers and tenants 7 days a week.
Available @ 832-298-8555 

RE/MAX Compass (Formerly RE/MAX WHP)




The information contained in this blog is believed to be reliable and while every effort is made to assure that the information is as accurate as possible, the author of this blog, and its comments disclaim any implied warranty or representation about it's accuracy, completeness or appropriateness for any particular purpose. All information is copywritten and the property of Greg Nino.  






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Kathleen Daniels
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist

Greg, I've fired a seller and turned over all of my marketing photos, etc. and was happy to do so ... no charge.  Thankfully it is rare ... yet there are times when it is just best to move on. 

Jun 28, 2016 01:59 AM #1
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Greg, I think the place to address these issues is in the listing agreement, and it's important to be clear about  who can terminate and why.  I include a clause that lets me terminate a listing.  Once I couldn't stand working with a seller for another second, and he gave my broker a very hard time about letting me out of the listing agreement.  

Jun 28, 2016 02:18 AM #2
Fred Griffin Tallahassee Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

 The Big Companies that I worked for covered it in the listing contract (there is a fill-in-the-blank for the amount).  They took a percentage of original list price.   Today I charge a non-refundable upfront fee; a Seller can leave whenever they want to. 

Jun 28, 2016 02:50 AM #3
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
RE/MAX Northwest. - Tacoma, WA
Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority!

How much is peace of mind worth? I have contemplated an early out clause which would cover the out of pocket expenses I expend on marketing. This would cover professional photography, sign placement, and advertising costs (All are documented).

I would never let a Selling client back out of a listing agreement while under contract without a commission. 

Jun 28, 2016 02:57 AM #4
Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

I had it happen once and the fee was $450.00.  Because the seller was so angry about that, I now make sure I tell every seller upfront.  As you said, it doesn't happen often, but if there is no good reason, then the agency should be paid a small fee.

Jun 28, 2016 05:37 AM #5
Lorrie Semler, REALTOR® in the Dallas area. Call/text 972-416-3417
United Real Estate - Addison, TX
Real Service. Real Results. Real Estate

I've got it in my listing agreement so the seller knows at the start.

Jun 28, 2016 07:40 AM #6
Peter den Boer
Atlanta Communities - Woodstock, GA
MBA,GRI, Associate Broker, Realtor

When it needs to be done, I charge $50. This covers the MLS expense incurred in the withdrawal process.

Jun 29, 2016 12:08 AM #7
Doug Rogers
Bayou Properties - Alexandria, LA
Your Alexandria Louisiana Agent

I'm upfront with my fees. The termination amount is listed in the special provisions section of the Listing Agreement. Since I have started doing this, the threats have went to almost nothing.

People will not always be honest as to their real reason for terminating. "We have decided not to move" can be code for 1) someone in our Sunday School class wants to purchase it or 2) my brother just got his license and we want to throw him a bone.

Jun 29, 2016 12:18 AM #8
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

I don't give up many listings but on those few occasions, it was a matter of just walking away

Jun 29, 2016 12:16 PM #9
Tony Morganti
RE/MAX Crossroads in Cuyahoga Falls and Stow, Ohio - Cuyahoga Falls, OH
CRS, ABR, SRES - Cuyahoga Falls, Stow

Make the pay Greg, make them pay!!

Jul 09, 2016 07:46 AM #10
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Greg Nino

Houston, Texas
Providing Real Estate Advice 7 days a week!
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