My Agent Doesn’t Believe in Open Houses. Can They Refuse to Perform Services I Ask of Them?

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I’m selling my house and I’d like to have a few open houses, but my agent says they don’t believe in open houses. Can my agent refuse to perform services I ask of them?

The answer to your question rests on what you and your real estate professional agreed to as part of your listing (seller representation) agreement.

While a real estate professional shouldn’t refuse to perform reasonable services for a seller, in most cases, services should be discussed between the parties and listed in your agreement.

The standard form agreement used in Alberta has a section indicating the real estate professional’s services. These services include that the real estate professional will advertise and market the property using the local real estate board’s multiple listing service.

There are also blank lines that allow the seller and their real estate professional to list other services the real estate professional will provide. For example, a professional measurement service, brochure design and printing, or hosting open houses.

The wording “advertising and marketing” isn’t fleshed out into specifics. How each real estate professional advertises and markets your property is largely up to what you and the professional agree to.

For example, if you want professional photos of your property, the agreement should say that, and it should be clear about who is responsible for the costs of those photos. Be as clear as possible with expectations at the beginning of your agreement, and it will make your working relationship go much smoother, with a much lower chance of conflict or disagreement.

If your agreement lists a service, your real estate professional is obligated to follow through.

So, what happens in the event you didn’t discuss specific advertising and marketing services when you signed the agreement, and now you want an open house?

Talk to your real estate professional. Have an open and upfront conversation about why you want open houses. Ask them why they don’t believe in open houses – and try to find common ground. Ultimately, your written agreement is with the real estate brokerage, and your real estate agent provides services to you on behalf of the brokerage. If you and your real estate professional can’t agree, talk to the broker. The broker is the individual responsible for managing real estate activities at the brokerage.