We changed our minds about selling. Now what?
Julie Garton-Good, GRI

Q:We signed a listing with a real estate practitioner even though the price was lower than we expected. After he left our home, we figured out that we wouldn't get enough out to even pay our expenses. So we called him four hours later (on Sunday evening) to withdraw the listing.

He told us that he had already started processing the listing so we would have to wait until the listing ran out (which would be in 12 months). I know that we signed a contract, but the salesperson couldn't have spent that much on it in four hours. I think this is unfair and wonder if there's anything we can do? We've decided now not to sell at all.

A:Although you did sign a one-year listing contract, the reality is that the agent will be hard pressed to successfully market a property with you as unwilling sellers. Even if the listing was being processed, it could be stopped.

By signing the listing, you contracted with the salesperson to perform a personal service for you -- to sell your home. While the salesperson does not want to release you to sell through another broker or by yourself, there may be a way to strike a happy bargain.

Call the salesperson and tell him that you were shocked when you found out that you wouldn't net anything out of the sale. Also state that you felt it was his job as a professional to inform you of the low proceeds before you listed the house. Knowing this, you've decided not to sell at all. Inform him that you will not list with anyone else, but that it would be wasting your time (and his) to market the property under the circumstances.

If he still refuses to release you from the listing, call his broker and explain the situation to him. (Be sure to state that the agent did not share all of the necessary facts with you before taking the listing.)

If the broker fails to release you, a call from an attorney may help. Have the attorney notify the broker that you are withdrawing the listing. The attorney may maintain that it is impossible for you to perform since you have insufficient equity in the property, and that the broker should have informed you of such.