I put my home up for sale but my circumstances have changed and I no longer want to sell it. What is the difference between suspending and cancelling my listing agreement with the brokerage?

Life can be unpredictable and an unexpected change in your personal situation might mean that selling your home is no longer the right decision for you.

First off, you’ll want to be open and honest with your real estate representative and explain that you no longer want to sell your home. Being upfront will help to manage everyone’s expectations so that you can find the best way forward.

Remember, your listing agreement is with the brokerage and not with your individual salesperson or broker. Your brokerage may offer to suspend your listing or cancel your agreement. It’s important to note the difference between the two.

If the listing is suspended, the brokerage will stop marketing your home. But, the original terms of the contract will still be in effect. That means you will continue to be bound to the original agreement and could not, for example, re-list your home with a different brokerage during the remainder of the contract. If you decide to put your home back on the market during the period covered by the contract, you will still be subject to the terms and conditions of your original listing.

Suspending a listing is also an option when you want to stop marketing your home for a specific amount of time. For example, if you want your home listed for sale but are unable to accommodate showings or open houses while you’re at home recovering from surgery, you could ask the brokerage to suspend the listing for that given timeframe.

On the other hand, if the brokerage agrees to cancel your listing agreement, you are released from your contract. However, there may be conditions where certain terms of the canceled agreement still apply. For example, if you cancel your agreement, and then sell your home privately to someone who was introduced to it during the term of the contract or during the holdover period, fees may still be payable to the brokerage. Depending, as always, on the specific terms of your listing contract, the brokerage will typically be under no obligation to release you from your listing early, before the expiry date as originally agreed.

It’s important to note that listing agreements are legally binding documents, and the terms and conditions of your contract may have an impact on how a suspension or cancellation might proceed.

As with any contract or form, be sure to read and understand the suspension or cancellation form before signing. If something is unclear, ask your real estate professional for clarification or consider speaking with a lawyer.

Ultimately, the decision to sell or not to sell rests with you, but it’s important to fully understand the consequences of your decision.

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.

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