The relation of principal and agent, so far as real estate brokers are concerned, may be terminated in any of the following ways: (1) By mutual consent; (2) by performance of the object of the employment; (3) by the pleasure of either party in good faith; (4) by lapse of time; (5) by a sale of the property through means other than the broker's efforts; (6) by the destruction of the subject-matter; (7) by bankruptcy; (8) by the insanity of either party; (9) by the death of either party. (Sec. 80-92.) The fraud of the agent also affects his agency. (Sec.93.)
The agency continues as to third persons until notice of the revocation. (Sec. 94.) But death revokes the agency as to third persons, without notice. (Sec. 92.)
It needs no citation of authority to demonstrate that the principal and the broker may put an end to their relation by mutual consent. For whatever the parties may do by agreement, they may usually undo by agreement. It is true that there may be occasions in which a dispute may arise as to whether the agency has been terminated by mutual consent. But these occasions are dependent rather on questions of fact than on law.
Again, no elaboration is required to show that the agency is terminated by performance of the object of employment. For, if the agent is employed to find a purchaser and finds one, or if he is engaged to purchase property and he purchases, the contract of employment is performed. "The agency of a real estate agent and his duty to his principal cease upon the delivery of the title papers and payment for the property."¹ But does not the broker's duty as such cease when he has obtained a purchaser, ready, willing and able to buy on the vendor's terms, or has brought about a contract of sale?2
As a general rule, a mere naked authority is, while executory, revocable at any time at the pleasure of the principal.3 A mere naked authority is one in the execution of which the agent has no other interest than that which springs from his employment as agent and his right to earn his compensation.4
Where no time is fixed, either the broker or the principal is at liberty to terminate the relation at will, acting in good faith.5 In Raleigh R. E. & Trust Co. v. Adams, 145 N. C. 164 (1907), the court said: "The defendants, having specified no definite time for the duration of the plaintiff's employment as their broker when they appointed and authorized it to sell the lots, had the right to terminate it at will, before any contract was effected with a purchaser, subject, however, only to the ordinary requirement of good faith." 6
"Where the owner of property employs a broker to bring him an offer for the purchase of it, without naming a price at which he is willing to sell, - that is to say, where the owner of property employs a broker to bring him an offer which he is to pass upon after it is brought to him, - there can be no implied agreement or understanding that the broker is to be entitled to a reasonable time in which to procure such an offer; in such a case the owner has a right to reject every offer brought to him, as was held in Walker v. Tirrell, 101 Mass. 257; and it is plain that under those circumstances he could decide not to accept any offer and to dismiss the broker altogether."7
¹ Board of Trustees v. Blair. 45 W. Vs. 820 (1899).
² See Dickinson v. Updike. 49 Atl. 713 (X. J. 1901). And see Sec. 117-119 infra.
³ Terwilliger v. Ontario Co., 149 N. Y. 92 (1896); and see Miller v. Wehrman, 115 N. W. 1078 (Nebr. 1908) ; Glover v. Henderson. 120 Mo. 376 (1893).
4 Terwilllger v. Ontario Co.. supra; Glover v. Henderson, supra.
5 Geery v. Pollock, 16 App. Div. 321 (N. Y. 1897).
•Citing Abbott v. Hunt. 129 N. C. 403: Sibbald v. Iron Co., 83 N. Y. 378: Coffin T. Landis. 46 Pa. St. 426; Young v. Trainor. 158 111. 428; Bailey v. Smith. 103 Ala. 641; Hartley's Appeal, 53 Pa. St. 212; Hunt v. Rousmanier. 8 Wheat. 174; Ins. Co. v. Williams. 91 N. C. 69; Brookshire v. Voncannan, 28 N. C. 186; Wilcox v. Ewing, 141 U. S. 627.