How do you revive tired hardwood floors or a piece of antique furniture? Answer: You stain ’em back to their former glory. There’s no need to walk away from wooden decor just because it has faded to a dull shade of brown. You’ll be shocked by how luxe your floor or furniture will look with an application of wood stain. We’ve got the complete guide you need to learn how to stain wood so that it matches the precise vision that you have in your mind. Best of all, no previous DIY experience is required. All this tutorial will require from you is a few hours and a little elbow grease.
Tools you’ll need
3 natural-bristle paintbrushes
A few rags
A prestain conditioner
Stain in the color of your choice
A clear, protective finish
Step No. 1: Sand the wood
Whether you’re working on a piece of furniture or hardwood floors, start by sanding down the entire piece with 120-grit sandpaper until any previous finish and imperfections have been removed. Then, repeat the process with 220-grit sandpaper. In both cases, be sure to sand in the direction of the wood grain. Wipe away any dust from the sanding with a rag.
Step No. 2: Apply prestain conditioner
Apply a coat of prestain conditioner to ensure that the stain will be absorbed evenly into the wood. Let the conditioner sit for 15 minutes, then use a rag to wipe away any excess conditioner that did not soak into the wood.
Step No. 3: Stir the stain
Open the stain and thoroughly mix in any pigment that might have gotten stuck at the bottom of the can.
Step No. 4: Paint the stain on the wood
Use a natural-bristle brush to apply the stain on the wood and then let it sit. You can leave the stain on for up to 15 minutes, but keep in mind that the longer it sits, the darker the stain will be.
Step No. 5: Remove the first coat of stain, let dry, and apply an optional second coat
With a rag, wipe in the direction of the wood grain to remove any excess stain. This will ensure that the stain dries in the wood, rather than on top of it. Afterward, allow the stain to dry for at least four hours.
Apply a second coat, if needed.
Step No. 6: Stir the protective finish
Protect the wood from wear and tear by applying a clear, protective finish. Before applying, stir the can well to mix in any sediment that might be stuck on the bottom.
Step No. 7: Apply the protective finish, sand, and apply an optional second coat
Use a clean natural-bristle brush to apply an initial coat of finish to the wood, applying in the direction of the grain.
After the first coat of finish dries fully, lightly sand the project with 220-grit sandpaper and wipe away any dust. Then, apply a second coat of the finish and give it time to dry completely.
Everyone knows actor Adam Goldberg has a knack for intense comedy and drama, but who knew he also had an affinity for preserving Mid-Century Modern architecture? It’s evident in the classic three-bedroom, three-bath home he’s just put on the market for $1.75 million.
“It’s his favorite architectural style, and he’s going to have a hard time leaving it,” says listing agent Samantha Cooper of Positano Realty.
Built in 1959, the 1,938-square-foot, three-level home in the Los Feliz Oaks neighborhood is perched on a hill with city-to-ocean views. The floor-to-ceiling windows throughout take full advantage of those views.
The sizable master bedroom and guest room on the third level have views of the treetops, giving the top floor a tree house-like effect.
Goldberg says you “feel as if you’re floating among the trees.” The master bedroom is likely Goldberg’s favorite room in the house, according to Cooper.
Cooper notes that there are “walls of windows everywhere that bring the outdoors in,” and they’re one of the home’s key features.
Public records show that Goldberg purchased the house in 2006 for $1.54 million, so he’s not looking to make a killing on the place. He’s pretty much preserved it, making small renovations like painting it inside and out, adding a state-of-the-art sound system, and replacing the roof. The kitchen and baths haven’t been changed much since he moved in.
It should be easy enough for the new owners to expand the home or add a pool, as it comes with a neighboring vacant lot. The entire lot measures 9,492 square feet, with some of it terraced.
The bulk of Goldberg’s work on the house was converting the garage to a music studio. Goldberg is also a guitarist and songwriter, having composed the music for two of the feature films he wrote, produced, directed, and edited: “I Love Your Work” and “Running With the Bulls.” He also provided a song for a film he starred in, “Hebrew Hammer,” and has released rock and jazz albums.
In addition to starring in films such as “Dazed and Confused,” “Saving Private Ryan,” and “A Beautiful Mind,” he’s also been a regular on a number of TV shows, including “Friends,” “Entourage,” “The Jim Gaffigan Show,” and “Fargo.”
“Property Brothers” stars Jonathan and Drew Scott would probably be the first to say that a great beach house has to have a great deck. So, the pressure’s on in the latest episode of their HGTV show “Brother vs. Brother,” as they both renovate the decks on their respective Galveston, TX, beach homes to see who does it better!
On previous episodes, they’ve overhauled living rooms, kitchens, and master suites, so you’d think upgrading a glorified patio area would be a piece of cake—but not so fast!
Because the materials are exposed to the elements and the support beams are embedded in sandy or watery surfaces, the brothers face major challenges that, at one point, prompts Drew to raise both arms heavenward in frustration and cry, “Why does this house hate me?”
But the brothers prevail, as they always do—and, in the process, trot out some amazing deck ideas that we can all use to enhance our outdoor spaces, for beach houses and beyond.
Use composite decking
About the only thing the brothers agree on in this episode is the need for replacing wood decking with composite.
“This climate is really rough on building materials,” Jonathan says, noting that weather, bugs, and saltwater have made his old wood deck splinter, crack, and rot. “Composite looks just as nice as real wood, but it’s much more durable.”
“This house is going to have a lot of parties, a lot of renters,” adds Drew. “Renters don’t take care of the place the way an owner would, so we need a deck that will stand the test of time.”
A French drain can remedy plumbing issues
We admit, we’ve never heard of a French drain until Jonathan brings it up. He wants to install a full bath and margarita bar on the lower level, where previously only a toilet in an unfinished room stood. The problem is, he finds out that you can’t tie into the sewer system in a room that’s at or below the water level—so the toilet has to go and a full bath is out.
But in a bar, you need at least a sink, so Jonathan comes up with the idea of installing a French drain, which basically empties up and out to the side of the house and is perfectly legal. He tears out the toilet, puts in a changing room, then adds an adjacent bar with refrigeration and a French drain–enabled sink.
“That way, you can get out of your wet clothes before you dive into a dry martini,” he says.
Recycle used materials
Meanwhile, poor Drew learns that rebuilding his deck won’t leave him enough money to build a custom bar with new materials. Fortunately he has gorgeous marble and tile left over from his master bath and kitchen renovations which he can use on the bar. Problem solved!
A louvered wall is a perfect outdoor divider
What do you do when you want privacy, but you don’t want to block out fresh air and light? You add a louvered wall, according to Jonathan. The neighbor’s house is just a few feet away from his margarita bar, and because the new owners would not necessarily want the neighbors to be peering in all the time and expecting an invite, he builds a wall of white, horizontal louvered boards that allow the air and light to pass through, but not the neighbors’ gaze.
Hanging furniture is fun
Below his massive deck, Drew adds a boat dock. However, he also wants some living space, so he constructs and hangs a sturdy day bed. Who wouldn’t love to snooze in this swinging lounge?
How does it go?
The judges this week are house flippers Karen Laine and Mina Starsiak, the mother-daughter stars of “Good Bones.” The brothers are thrilled to hang out with another all-in-the-family business.
“They know how to bicker, and they know how to work together,” says Jonathan.
While both decks are lovely, the women are drawn to Jonathan’s ground-level margarita bar, and name his design the winner.
Jonathan’s reward? He gets to zip line over the water at Moody Gardens, while Drew has to inch across an 80-foot-high ropes course. We hope they both end the day with a margarita at least.
Get-rich-quick schemes, phishing, rubber checks or money orders … odds are you’re hip to these con games and know to steer clear. Yet according to the Better Business Bureau’s Risk Index—an analysis of the scams consumers fall for—the greatest danger of a shakedown could actually be lurking in your home improvement projects.
In 2016, over 32,000 scams were reported to the BBB, which deemed scams surrounding home improvement the biggest risk based on three (unfortunate) criteria: how likely consumers are to be exposed to a con, how likely they are to lose money, and how much money they lose. Apparently, victims of shady contractors, painters, and other repairmen are bilked an average of $1,400.
This typically takes the form of servicemen giving lowball bids, then demanding more money later, or using someone else’s license to take your money and run. Don’t want to be a victim? Here’s how to protect yourself.
Check contractor’s license, insurance, and references
Even if your contractor was recommended to you by a friend or family member, make sure the contractor has a valid license.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for their license numbers upfront,” says Cedric Stewart, a real estate consultant at Keller Williams, in the Washington, DC, area. “Some states have online databases where you can check the license status.”
A Google search for “check contractor license in [your state]” should point you in the direction of a website that allows you to input your prospective contractor’s license number to make sure it’s up to date.
You should also, without hesitation, ask for at least three, if not more, references.
“Scammers usually have a couple projects that went well in the past, and they will use them repeatedly as references,” says former general contractor Sam Medicraft.
“This is another indication that the contractor you are hiring is reputable as they will need to pass a level of scrutiny and pledge to observe a code of ethics in order to be a member of one of these organizations,” he says.
While you’re at it, check out the vendor’s online presence.
“Do they have a good website and active social media? That’s a good sign,” says Medicraft. “Most scammers want to disappear, so they leave as few traces online as possible.”
What to do if you suspect you were scammed
After placing your faith in someone to complete the job, it’s an unsettling feeling when you realize they might not have done everything you agreed upon. Where can you turn?
In these situations, Jody Costello, founder of contractorsfromhell.com and creator of the Home Remodeling Bootcamp for Women, recommends that you file a complaint with your state Contractors License Board or Consumer Protection Agency, as well as the BBB. But she cautions that restitution is slow and relief might not be what you’d hoped for.
All of this means it really pays to do your homework upfront before that handyman is even hired.
Let’s face it—some of us need all the good fortune we can get. So what if we were to tell you that you could step up your success with even the simplest of decor decisions?
That’s the essence of feng shui, the ancient Chinese philosophy of living in harmony with your surrounding environment. The theory: Optimizing your spatial arrangements to be better aligned with nature can boost your energy, foster happiness, and even put a little luck on your side. And that’s why homeowners have turned to feng shui for centuries as a manual for designing and decorating their homes.
“Our home is a metaphor for our life—and using feng shui can help transform the conscious and unconscious mind,” explains LauraCerrano, an expert at Feng Shui Manhattan. The result? A harmonious abode that can be felt on all levels: mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical.
But the thing about feng shui is, it’s easy to screw up. One wrong move, and you could open yourself up to some bad juju. If you want to harness all the good energy your home has to offer, avoid or fix these feng shui faux pas—fast.
1. A bed on the same wall as the door
The boudoir is the most important space in your home, says Kim Radovich, a design expert at Kim E. Courtney Interiors, in Huntington Bay, NY. After all, “we spend a third of our lives here, sleeping, procreating, and rejuvenating.”
And if you want to max out the good vibes in the place where the magic happens, you have to start with the bed. Placing it in an inauspicious position is a common feng shui mistake.
“Don’t put it on the same wall as the door to your room, because you need to be able to see the door from the bed,” Radovich explains.
Some feng shui experts believe that placing a bed near a door—where energy is rushing in and out—negates the sublime vibe you’re trying to create in the bedroom. If you can’t avoid sharing the same wall as the door, you can boost your qi, or positive energy, by hanging or leaning a mirror so you can see the reflection of the door from the bed.
This one’s easy: Just keep it closed! The toilet’s opening is like a drain, and exposing it can mean your home’s good fortune might escape, Radovich says.
“Not only will shutting it keep the energy stronger in your bathroom, but it’s also more pleasing to see when you enter the room,” says Dana Claudat, an interior designer and Pyramid School Feng Shui consultant.
3. Mirrors (improperly placed) in the foyer
Photo by Colin Cadle Photography
Where would we be without entryway mirrors for those last-minute hair and makeup checks on our way out the door? Don’t worry—we’re not about to tell you to ditch this design trend. But as with many things in the feng shui world, the issue here is with placement.
“The front door is our connection to the world,” Radovich says, and by hanging a mirror directly opposite the entryway, you risk losing good vibes. The point of a mirror is to reflect positive energy (Hello, beautiful!), so putting one in this spot will “push away” the nice flow that’s trying to come into your home. Instead, place your mirror off to the side, as shown above.
4. Greenery in the bedroom
Photo by mark cutler
This one surprised us—isn’t nature the ultimate manifestation of good qi? Turns out, it is—just not in the bedroom.
A bunch of potted plants in this space can rob the room of its positive atmosphere, and might even affect your relationship if you’re sharing the space with a partner, Claudat says. That’s because these plants are actively growing (unlike flowers in a vase) and aren’t giving off restful energy that’s needed in the bedroom.
Sound, scent, and light are important for good feng shui, Radovich says, so you can add music, chimes, and candles or firelight in the bedroom (so hygge!). But save greenery for kitchen window sills, the living room, and patio.
Can you truly be Zen if you can’t see your kitchen counters? If you’ve ever read anything from master organizer Marie Kondo, you know that clearing away extra stuff is essential to good vibes.
“Your qi will be stagnant, and the flow of energy can be blocked in a space that’s filled with clutter,” Radovich says.
By tossing things you don’t need, you’ll be energizing and enhancing your house without even knowing all the feng shui rules, Claudat adds.
Experts can help with big projects and with blind spots—you know you have ’em! A professional organizer and feng shui expert can also be brought in to fine-tune the overall energy. And decluttering can be done right away.
6. A mix of flooring
Photo by Increation
From a feng shui perspective, the type of floor covering you use represents the home’s metaphorical strength.
“Choosing a floor design that’s continuous throughout the house is good practice as this gives the place strong, supportive qi,” Cerrano says. Interior designers would agree!
When each room has different flooring, the energy is weakened. The exception, of course, is in the kitchen and bath, where floors often need to be different from the rest of the house.
7. Rushing to decorate
It’s human nature to want to check off boxes on your to-do list—and setting up your home is just one of many projects on tap. But rushing feng shui–related matters isn’t smart.
“Lots of people tend to quickly fill every space in the home, and I find that energetically and aesthetically they should be saving room to grow,” Claudat says.
So don’t hurry to cover every wall and pile pretty things onto your shelves. Leaving space for new discoveries is better for the home’s energy (and your sanity).
OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder has been living the good life in his home in Beverly Hills, CA. But now he’s ready to sing a farewell tune to his luxe estate.
The mansion in the Trousdale Estates neighborhood is on the market for $12.75 million. According to listing agent David Gray of Partners Trust, it’s the perfect balance of Beverly Hills beauty without going over the top.
“It has more of a softer, younger vibe than the overbearing contemporaries they’re mostly building today,” says Gray. “It’s friendly, open, and comfortable.”
The five-bedroom, 5.5-bathroom home offers 5,386 square feet of living space and sits on a 1-acre lot. The backyard is anchored by a magnificent coral tree, lush landscaping, and a dining pavilion. But the best part, according to Gray, is the home’s natural surroundings, from the sun to the shrubbery.
The house, originally built in 1959, was fully remodeled. Tedder had designers add a bedroom, a room big enough to house a recording studio, and a three-car garage.
According to Gray, former residents of the neighborhood include Groucho Marx, Elvis Presley, Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
In 2002 Tedder formed OneRepublic with guitarist Zach Filkins. The band has released four albums and has had six top 20 hits in the U.S. Tedder also co-wrote Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love” and Beyoncé’s “Halo.” He’s also written songs for Taylor Swift, Adele, and Stevie Wonder.
Looking for his next landing place, Tedder recently picked up some property in West Hollywood in April.
Looking for a deal on a newly constructed home? Well, you’re not likely to get one if current trends continue.
The median price for a new home hit its highest level in May, as builders put up fewer affordable homes, priced under $300,000, compared with the same month a year earlier, according to a joint report by the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
(Realtor.com® looked only at the seasonally adjusted numbers in the report. These have been smoothed out over 12 months to account for seasonal fluctuations.)
But the higher price tags didn’t dissuade buyers who purchased 610,000 brand-new homes in May—an increase of 2.9% from April and 8.9% from May 2016.
The median price of a newly built home was $345,800 in May—the highest it’s ever been. The price rose nearly 11.5% from April and 16.8% from the same month a year earlier.
“Builders are focused on the mid to upper end of the housing market,” says Senior Economist Joseph Kirchner of realtor.com. “It means that it will be more difficult to find more affordable homes for first-time buyers, millennials, and low-income people.”
That’s because builders must contend with higher land, construction worker, and material costs these days. It’s also harder for builders—smaller ones in particular—to get financing on these projects.
Only about 6,000 newly constructed homes priced between $150,000 and $199,999 were sold in May. That’s up a little from 5,000 in April, but well shy of the 9,000 that buyers closed on in May 2016. Buyers also scooped up fewer homes in the $200,000 to $299,999 price range, with just 14,000 sales. That’s down from 22,000 sales in April and 16,000 sales in May 2016.
(About 2,000 homes priced below $150,000 were sold in May—up from 1,000 in April and the same number, 2,000, as the previous year.)
However, the number of properties in the higher price ranges rose sharply—despite surging demand from cash-strapped buyers for lower-priced abodes.
New homes were nearly 36.8% pricier than existing ones (i.e., homes that have been previously lived in) in May. The median price of an existing home reached an all-time high of $252,800 in May, according to the most recent National Association of Realtors® report.
The majority of new-home sales were in the South, where the lower cost of taxes and living makes it appealing for both businesses and transplants. About 360,000 newly constructed homes were purchased in the region, up 6.2% from April and 15% from May 2016.
The West, home to Silicon Valley, had the second-most new-home sales, at 162,000. That was a 13.3% rise from April and a 14.1% bump from the same month a year earlier.
Meanwhile, the number of new-home sales dropped in the Midwest and the Northeast. In the Midwest, they plummeted to 55,000—down 25.7% from April and falling 23.6% from the previous May. This is the lowest they’ve been all year.
In the Northeast, sales also fell 10.8% from April and remained the same, at 33,000, as May 2016.
The picturesque city of Victoria—with its lively harbor and wooded roads—is beset with home buyers.
The capital of British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province, has long attracted Canadian retirees looking for mild weather. In the past year, however, demand has been strengthened by buyers priced out of Vancouver and other Canadian cities, and by semi-retired professionals able to work remotely and who are seeking a laid-back lifestyle.
The median price of a Victoria home rose 15.5% to 587,086 Canadian dollars, or $436,008, in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the same period last year, according to real-estate brokerage Royal LePage. Inventory has plummeted. And Victoria’s luxury market, which starts around $1.5 million, is booming. Between May 2016 and May 2017, 126 homes sold at or above that price; before 2015 these sales hovered between 20 and 40, said Fair Realty’s Leo Spalteholz, who writes a blog about the Victoria market.
“In single-family homes, where we have our biggest crunch, there’s just no land to build anymore,” said Bill Ethier of Royal LePage Coast Capital Realty.
Lloyd and Suzie Anderson’s hunt to find a waterfront equestrian property in Victoria took almost two years. After being outbid four times, Mrs. Anderson had taken to searching real-estate websites late at night. During one search, she spotted a listing that had gone up 15 minutes earlier. “We flew out the next day” from Ontario, said the 53-year-old retired teacher.
The couple’s roughly $2 million offer was accepted, and in August 2015 they moved into the 6,144-square-foot, four-bedroom home. Down a steep, heated driveway, the house sits amid stands of cedars and bushy rhododendrons on the Satellite Channel. A backyard path zigzags down to the water, where the couple stores their kayaks out of reach of otters. A gym offers Mr. Anderson, 56, who partly retired from his Montreal-based aircraft-equipment repair company, the space to practice jujitsu.
One downside: There is no land for Mrs. Anderson’s horse. So after a nearly $300,000 renovation, completed in May 2016, the couple is in contract to buy a home nearby with acreage for the horse for about $2.15 million. Their current home is listed with Deedrie Ballard of Re/Max Camosun for about $2.38 million.
In recent years, Canadian home prices have spiked thanks to low interest rates, a stable economy and overseas investment. Governments in British Columbia and Ontario have implemented a 15% foreign-buyer tax to cool the markets in Vancouver and Toronto.
Victoria, a collection of 13 municipalities with a total population of 367,770, lagged behind. A concentration of modestly paid government workers kept housing prices stable, and its small-town vibe and island location kept it off the radar of international buyers.
All this has turned Victoria into a comparative bargain. Vancouver’s median home price was about double Victoria’s, or roughly $876,000, in the first quarter, according to Royal LePage.
Victoria makes up a small, urban section of Vancouver Island, a 12,355-square-mile expanse of old-growth forest, mountain ranges, remote communities and vacation spots. Biking, hiking and other outdoor activities are popular pastimes. Deer are a common sight.
Residents extol their city’s friendliness, contrasting its easygoing attitude with the hustle and bustle of Vancouver.
Victoria lacks some big-city amenities like high-end shopping and thriving nightlife. And the city is reachable only by air or boat. The Victoria International Airport has no direct flights to Europe, Asia or the eastern U.S.
The boom in Victoria real estate is visible in the glassy mansions sprouting in the coveted municipality of Oak Bay, which contains the Uplands, the city’s most desirable neighborhood. On a recent drive, Jason Binab of Engel & Völkers Vancouver Island pointed out for-sale signs on stucco and shingle-style homes—likely teardowns.
Some Oak Bay residents have resisted proposals to build taller condo buildings, preferring single-family homes in a traditional style.
“Change is slow in this particular neighborhood,” said Mike Miller, president of Abstract Developments. The company is behind the first condo project approved—after a seven-hour public hearing and three-hour debate—in Oak Bay since 2003. Construction is set to start in the fall on the Bowker Collection, 43 single-level townhouses and apartments with prices starting at about $440,000.
Most of Victoria’s luxury condos are located downtown near the Inner Harbour. One of the largest projects under way is Bayview Place, a nearly $750 million mixed-use development that will ultimately have 2,000 apartments spread over 20 acres, said Kenneth W. Mariash Sr., founder of master developer Focus Equities.
Victoria native Rob McAdams spent about $2.23 million building his five-bedroom house in 1993 and has since invested about $375,000 in upgrades. The house sits on 16.22 acres with 840 feet of frontage on Saanich Inlet. A totem pole stands in the great room.
Now semi-retired from land development, Mr. McAdams, 75, has listed the home for about $5.87 million with Royal LePage. He and his wife, Bette, 72, split their time between Victoria and Palm Desert, Calif., and the property is too large for them, he said.
The multiplatinum-selling musician, who bought the 1.5-acre property on Point Dume in 2006 for $11.6 million, had tried for many years to find a buyer.
He first listed the place for $13.45 million in September 2013, then dropped the price to $12 million in March 2016. This March, the gated home on a cul-de-sac went on the market for $11 million, before selling for $9.5 million a couple of weeks ago.
The 8,300-square-foot, Balinese-inspired house has five bedrooms and five baths. The open floor plan features a dining area, screening room, gym, and master suite with a pair of large walk-in closets. There’s also a guesthouse, pool, three-car garage, and outdoor entertainment pavilion with a built-in grilling area.
Rock, 46, is a five-time Grammy nominee who made the crossover from rap to rock to country. He released his latest album, “First Kiss,” in 2015.
No matter how carefully you look for the right real estate agent, sometimes this relationship just doesn’t work out. Yet before you can find another professional to help you buy a home, you will have to know how to terminate the buyer’s agent agreement—the contract between you and your real estate representative.
“If you signed a contract, you are bound to it,” says Matt Laricy, a Realtor® with Americorp Real Estate, in Chicago.
In other words: Don’t just do a slow fade-out and expect your agent to get your drift; you should tackle this issue head-on. And, as such, there is a right—and wrong—way to cut ties. Here’s some advice to make sure you’re on the right side of that equation.
Try to work it out
The easiest option might be not quitting at all. If there’s a chance you and your real estate agent are just getting your wires crossed, it might be worth trying to explain your concerns before you go through the hassle of terminating the contract.
“I suggest you ask to have a meeting with your agent and his or her supervising broker to discuss your issues,” says Joyce Mitchell, a Realtor with Mitchell & Associates Real Estate, in Bigfork, MT. “That way you can really figure out the best options to address either improving the relationship or terminating the whole agreement.”
Read your contract
Don’t want to arrange a “Godfather”-style sit-down with your current real estate agent? If you’re just ready to jump ship, start by reading the fine print on your buyer’s agreement.
“It will disclose under what conditions it can be terminated prior to its expiration,” says Alex Cortez, a Realtor with Wailea Village Properties, in Kihei, HI.
In most cases, “you should be able to terminate the agreement with a letter of cancellation or termination,” says Beverley Hourlier, a Realtor with Hilltop Chateau Realty, in San Diego. “Usually either side can terminate this way.”
But because this is a legal contract, don’t just part ways with a handshake.
“Make sure you get a signed termination from the Realtor just to cover your bases,” says Hourlier. This ensures your dissolution is legit.
Talk to the broker
If you can’t work an issue out with your agent directly, consider going up the chain to your agent’s broker. A broker has taken education courses beyond the agent level, and passed a broker’s license exam. A broker can work on his own, but all agents must work for a broker, who acts as a supervisor of sorts. Brokers’ companies, called brokerages, can be large multinational firms or local boutiques, giving agents access to the multiple listing service, insurance, and other tools they need to interact with clients.
Basically, when you sign a contract to work with an agent, “this is a contract between you and the brokerage,” says Mike Grumbles, a Realtor with Exit Realty of the South, in Franklin, TN. When money is made off a home sale, those profits go first to the brokerage, then a portion is allocated to the agent involved.
The long and short of it is, if you’re unhappy with your agent, the brokerage will want to know because it affects the brokerage’s bottom line.
The other nice thing: The broker might be able to terminate the agreement without your agent’s input. Or, you might not have to cancel your contract at all, because “the broker may be able to merely assign you a different agent at the same brokerage,” says Grumbles. This can save you the hassle of finding a new agent.
A last resort
If talking to your agent and the broker isn’t getting you anywhere, you might want to reach out to a lawyer. Another option? Just wait it out—most contracts must be renewed after a certain amount of time anyway. Most of the time, you’ll be able to work something out without having to hire a third party.
But all in all, if you’re unhappy, it’s better to move on—for both of you.
“Ultimately it doesn’t benefit either of you to be ‘stuck’ with each other,” Cortez explains.