What Do You Do When You Change Your Mind

Buying and selling a house is a HUGE decision. It is one that should be made with lots of information and lots of consideration. It is a decision that, once made, will largely control a major portion of your money, time, thoughts, hopes and dreams. 

Because of this, sometimes, you change your mind. You want to do it but, once you get into it, you realize you don’t actually want to do it. Or maybe not at that time. Or maybe not with the agent you hired. Who knows. Either way, you want to change course. But how? There are all kinds of contracts involved and people have spent time and money and effort on you. How do you gracefully, successfully and with as little bad blood as possible, change your mind.

First, let me say that what I am about to type to you is as it pertains to ME. Not everyone or every situation is the same. Also, let me say that the last time I typed out something like this, I ruffled some feathers. There are some agents out there that don’t want this information readily available. And those are the ones that what I am about to tell you might not work for. But anyway, knowledge is power. How you wield that power is character. Be of good character.

1) Why do you want out of whatever you are in? Is it a whim, is it fear, is it a bad feeling? Have circumstances changed? Was it a bad choice to start with? Did someone let you down? What is the motivation to change your course? You must know what it is and be able to articulate it. This makes all the difference. You will be asked and for good reason. 

2) What are you actually in? Did you sign an exclusive buyer representation agreement? Did you sign an exclusive right to sell listing agreement? Have you already signed a contract with another party to either buy their home or sell yours to them? Knowing what your actual position is is absolutely essential. Some things are easier than others to get out of. Some things that you want to get out of have major consequences. 

3) Communication is the key. When you know you want out and you can articulate why, you must start telling the people that can do something about it–i.e. your agent is a great place to start. The longer an obligation exists, the harder it is to break. 

4) You must identify the parties that will actually make the decision. For example, if you listed your house, ultimately, your agent probably will not make the final decision to let you out. That listing belongs to the FIRM, not to the agent. You will have to talk with the managing broker. If you are trying to get out of a contract to buy or sell, you likely have money involved. If you are buying and you just want to walk away, you will very likely NOT get your money back unless it is for a contractual reason. If you choose to just walk and give up that earnest money, the other party could still come after you for damages. Bottom line, identify who makes the decisions and have meaningful, direct conversations with them. If it is something like a purchase agreement, you will very possibly need an attorney.

5) Offer to compensate. If you are trying to break off a listing agreement or a buyer rep agreement, offer to compensate that agent for their time and what they spent. Pictures, staging, showings, research all cost time and money. That agent makes nothing if you don’t close. Help them out. It will help soften the news. 

6) Be honest and direct. Don’t be passive aggressive or wishy washy. Just tell me what you are thinking. And, if possible, communicate along the way that you are not 100%. 

7) Finally, make sure you really want to do it. If you want to walk on a purchase because of something in the home inspection for example, make sure it is as bad as you think. See if there is a way to get it fixed. See if the seller will cover it. In other words, whatever your fear is, or your frustration, see if a conversation can fix it before you blow it up. Perhaps it won’t. But try. Be the good guy.

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