My Realtor is in isolation after being exposed to COVID-19, but I need to find a new home ASAP. Am I disrupting our business arrangement?

Dear MarketWatch!

I live in Fayetteville, NC, and am currently selling my house and looking to buy another one.

My realtor just told me his daughter has COVID-19 and he has to get tested. He also said that he would be in quarantine for a week.

I’m short on time and need to go out every day trying to find a new home. He barely replied to my texts and told me we would work it out. What can I do?

Best regards,

Confusion in Carolina

Big move‘ is a MarketWatch column that looks at the details and characteristics of real estate, from navigating your search for a new home to applying for a mortgage.

Do you have a question about buying or selling a home? Do you want to know where your next move should be? Email Jacob Passy at

Sent by mistake,

I can understand your concern. Even if the property market has cooled down a bit from the frenetic pace of sales in previous months, it’s still a very competitive seller’s market. There is still a great degree of competition for houses in many parts of the competition.

That may be good news for you when you sell your home – but you’re facing the same conundrum that many home sellers will worry about: Needing to find a new place to live. Indeed, I have many friends who sold their home and then ended up renting because they couldn’t find a new home they wanted to buy.

However, for any buyer in today’s market, it’s important to keep COVID-19 in mind and start with a classy head. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend a 14-day quarantine for anyone who has not been immunized and who has been in contact with someone with COVID-19. People who are fully vaccinated and have no symptoms do not need to be isolated, but they are required to be tested 5 to 7 days after exposure and isolated if they have any symptoms.

It sounds like your agent may be taking some extra precautions – or perhaps he is unvaccinated and is looking to prevent possible spread of the virus. I know you’re stressed, but I think it’s important to take a moment to realize that he has your best interests in mind. He’s doing it ethically by avoiding making his clients sick – not to mention, it’s possible his brokerage policy takes these steps to stop the spread.

At the same time, I realized that time is of the essence. If he was a member of a larger brokerage, I would start by contacting them to see what they could do. “Typically, in a situation like this, when a real estate agent is sick, it is common practice for the agent to refer their client to another qualified agent within the company,” says Bill Gassett, a real estate associate with RE/MAX Executive Realty in Hopkinton, Mass.

If that happens, that new agent will become your buyer’s agent and provide you with the same services, Gassett said.

‘Typically in a situation like this where a real estate agent is ill, it is customary for the agent to refer their client to another qualified agent within the company. “

– Bill Gassett, real estate affiliate with RE/MAX Executive Realty

You mentioned communication concerns, which makes me wonder if you’re having trouble communicating with your Realtor in general during your home purchase. If you’re really unhappy with your service, you may want to consider switching to another agency. But beware: Easier said than done.

If you have signed an exclusive agreement with this agent, you will find that very difficult to break. Especially if the agent has shown you a home that you will decide to buy with another agent, your original Real Estate agent may be entitled to a commission on that home. As a result, other agents may be wary of working with you as it could jeopardize any commissions they might expect to receive.

You can try to ask your current agent to cancel his contract – if you choose to go this route, you should send your request in writing via email and give him an elegant phone call. meek. That said, he can choose not to cancel it, in which case you’re basically stuck. These exclusivity deals are usually time-limited, usually around six months, so you’ll either be forced to work with him or wait until you can work with someone else.

“In the absence of a buyer’s agency contract, the buyer may decide not to wait and move immediately with an agent from another company,” says Gassett.

My final piece of advice: If this is the only problem you have with working with this agent, give him the benefit of the doubt. See if another agent from his company can help you in the meantime. If you’re about to sign a contract to sell your existing home, you may want to consider giving yourself flexibility in terms of moving times or closing dates to allow more time.

And if you choose to hire a new agent, I recommend asking if they are vaccinated against COVID-19. Unvaccinated people are more likely to contract COVID, and you wouldn’t want to fire this employee just to sign someone who then got sick himself.

I know that in today’s market, buying a home to sell can feel like a frenzy, but don’t rush into buying a home that isn’t right for you. I hope you can resume your house hunting soon and find your dream home.

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