Can I cancel a listing contract, a buyer agency or an exclusive agency contract?

Contracts can only be cancelled with the mutual consent of the parties.

In BC, Realtors use standard form real estate contracts. The wording and terms of these contracts have been prepared by BC lawyers and have been tested in Canadian courts. Multiple Listing, Buyer Agency and Exclusive Listing contracts are made between the real estate brokerage (often referred to as “the agency”) and the client (the seller or buyer.)

Realtors work within a legal relationship called designated agency. This relationship exists between you, the principal and your Realtor. (The brokerage for which your Realtor works is the contracting party, but is not your agent.) The essence of the agency relationship is that the Realtor has the authority to represent you in dealings with others. Note that while the Realtor may be your designated agent, the managing broker is the representative of the brokerage and is therefore responsible for the actions of his/her Realtors.

*It is also possible for a Realtor to assist you as an “unrepresented party.” A Realtor who represents you in this way is not your agent and has no fiduciary duties to you.

A Realtor assisting you in this type of relationship can, for example:

  • Explain real estate terms, practices and forms;
  • Assist in screening or viewing properties;
  • Prepare and present all offers and counter-offers at your direction;
  • Inform you of lenders and their policies;
  • Identify and estimate costs involved in a transaction. 

If you have signed a standard form:

  • Multiple Listing Contract;
  • an Exclusive Buyer Agency Contract; or
  • an Exclusive Listing Contract; and you wish to cancel the contract early, you may be able to do so, but only if the other party to the contract (your Realtor’s company) agrees. If you have a concern here is what you should do:
      1. Discuss your concerns directly with your Realtor and ask for a resolution of the issues that are bothering you. Keep written notes and make your instructions in writing.
      2. If your concerns are not addressed, contact your Realtor’s managing broker to ask for assistance. Make meeting requests in writing and advise the managing broker why you want to see him/her in advance.
      3. If your concerns are not resolved, contact your lawyer to discuss your options. 
      4. The Real Estate Board cannot unilaterally cancel your listing or buyer agency contract. It can assist you with problems or disputes by contacting your Realtor’s managing broker to make him/her aware of your concerns.

The Real Estate Board is not empowered to regulate members’ commissions/fees, service levels, services provided or their civility to you. Please contact your Realtor’s managing broker if you have a concern in these areas.

It is a breach of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics for a Realtor:

  • to suggest to a potential client that another Realtor’s listing or buyer agency contract should be cancelled early, or to suggest that another member’s contract should be unconditionally released; or
  • to make direct contact with other Realtor’s client(s) if they do not have advance permission from their colleagues; and
  • to publicly discredit another Realtor or brokerage.