18 Signs You’re About to Hire the Wrong Real Estate Agent
Does your skin get itchy when you talk to them? Do they keep showing you houses you'd never be interested in? Trust those instincts and watch out for these telltale signs you're working with the wrong person.
They make a bad first impression
“When it comes to real estate agents, the first impression is always telling,” explains Adham Sbeih, the CEO of Socotra Capital, a California-based real estate firm. “If an agent doesn’t pick up the phone the first time you call them, that’s an automatic thumbs down. They’ve already shown themselves to be unreliable, and in an often time-sensitive situation like buying a house, you need them to be there when you need them most.” Don’t miss this 10-step plan to buying your first house in five years.
They don’t get to know you
Your agent doesn’t need to know your favorite sushi dish, but they should have a general idea of who you are and what your interests are in regards to home buying. For example, you want a safe home near schools or you want to be in an up and coming neighborhood rich with city life. “An agent should be wholeheartedly invested in their client’s buying or selling experience,” shares Dawn Perry, Sr. Vice President of Marketing for ERA Real Estate. “Any agent who doesn’t want to know more about you and your general interests may not be your best bet.”
They don’t listen to your needs and wants
“I would say in the most basic sense that you know you’re working with the wrong realtor when their focus of conversation with a client is not based on the client’s wants and needs but is focused more on the agent’s resumé or a specific home,” says Michael Watson, an Antelope Valley, California-based realtor. It is a good idea to make a list of your non-negotiable wants and needs in a home to keep you and your agent focused. Real estate agents warn against these mistakes you’re making with your home.
They don’t think outside the box
A little creativity is required from a real estate agent. “Whether you’re a buyer or seller, there’s a huge advantage to thinking outside of the box,” says Ed Reynolds of Denver-based Atlas Real Estate Group. “Understanding when to reduce a purchase price or waive contingencies as a buyer is crucial to getting your offer accepted.” Check out these 11 shockingly common mistakes to avoid when buying your first home.
They don’t have experience in your price range
“If you’re looking to purchase a $2 million dollar house, don’t work with an agent that primarily sells $200,000 condos,” warns Denver real estate broker Ed Reynolds. “The agent needs to be experienced at buying and selling homes in your price range.” Reynolds explains that one way to do that is to tell the agent, “I am looking for a $500,000 home, how many houses in that price point did you buy or sell this year?” Don’t miss these 12 surprising costs every first-time home buyer needs to know about.
They aren’t responsive
Does your agent keep missing your call? It could be time to move on. “One of the most important characteristics of a great real estate agent is someone that is very responsive by phone, text, or email,” says real estate marketer, Jennifer Poston. “In hot markets, great houses go quickly and when something comes up that you want to see, you need someone that is going to be near their phone to make the appointment or has a showing assistant that can help you when they are not available.”
They aren’t proactive
Even if this isn’t your first home purchase or sale, your agent should be proactive in keeping you on course. “A good agent will be sure you don’t miss out on opportunities due to lack of preparation,” says New York City real estate broker Brenda Di Bari. She also believes that agents should be diligent in making sure your financing is pre-approved and that you have a home inspector lined up. Check out these 22 secrets your real estate agent isn’t telling you.
They don’t have a real estate license
“Do yourself a favor and vet anyone you’re going to be working with—both your realtor and the one on the other end of the sale,” says Justin Lavelle, a fraud prevention expert for the BeenVerified. “A LinkedIn account doesn’t mean someone is trustworthy or a valid realtor. A person could have been a licensed realtor previously but may now have an expired license.” These 11 tips to avoid a home improvement scam are also helpful to know.
Don’t choose family or friends
“The biggest mistake people make is going with a realtor who is a friend or relative,” says Sissy Lappin, a real estate agent and founder of Listing Door, a tool that helps individuals sell their home. “Your home is a big investment, it should not be a training program for your cousin who was laid off from their job and started a new career.” Even if your friend or family member is an experienced agent, you might feel more comfortable bossing around someone you don’t know on a personal level.
They don’t have a flexible schedule
Sure, your agent might be busy, but they shouldn’t be too busy to make you a priority. “Whether you are on the buyer’s side or seller’s side, if this relationship impedes the client from seeing a home because both parties just can’t ‘work it out,’ this is a red flag,” warns residential real estate expert Alison Bernstein of Suburban Jungle.
They can’t answer your questions
“Bad agents seem to never be able to answer your questions,” shares agent and investor, Tony Idem Jr., from Sell Your DFW House Quickly. Signs of an unknowledgeable agent are that he or she deflects questions, says they will get back to you, or make up an answer. “Look for a consistent pattern of not having answers or not getting the answers they’ve promised you,” Idem continues. “If it persists, that agent has to go.” Check out the best tips for selling your home.
They don’t add valuable perspective
“You know you need a new real estate agent when the current one doesn’t expand your perspective,” shares Jeff Miller, a Maryland-based real estate agent and owner of AE Home Group. Miller says that the purpose of an agent is to add value and a fresh perspective for a client. “Using their experience, these agents should be advising buyers on how they can modify the home to meet all their needs. It’s the realtor’s job to make sure that the buyer doesn’t overlook a home when the negative drawback is easily overcome with a creative idea.”
They don’t know the area
“A good real estate agent is well-versed on the positive attributes of the homes they list and the neighborhoods they serve,” says Citi Habitats’ President, Gary Malin. “An agent should be able to talk to potential buyers about the best nearby shops, restaurants, and grocery stores.” If the agent lives and resides in the community, even better. There are many experts in real estate, but an expert in your specific area will help you obtain your dream home.
They want you to overpay
It’s no secret that agents make a decent commission on the sale of a home. An agent should not be motivated by the size of the commission, but instead what is best for their client. “If your agent is pushing you to spend more than you’re comfortable with, find a new agent,” advises Phoenix-based realtor, Jen Nelson.
You didn’t interview enough agents
“Most people will choose the first agent they talk to, their friend, or someone they know,” says Jennifer Murtland, a licensed agent in Ohio and Kentucky. Murtland explains that most agents sell under ten homes a year, and it is important to talk with at least three different agents, specifically asking how many homes they sold in the past year and the current year.
They don’t have many reviews online
Farris Tarazi III, a Los Angeles realtor, says, “Before interviewing realtors, I would search online and see if there are any reviews.” You want to look for an agent that has some kind of presence online, even if it is only a handful of positive reviews. This shows that the agents care about his or her clients’ opinions and that the agent made an impression. Remember, you want to look for balanced reviews—ones that share the pros and cons, rather than just overly positive comments.
They don’t know how to sell your type of home
There are so many different home types, and all can vary drastically, from a listing style to a targeted buyer. “Certain types of sales require specific and nuanced skills,” explains Earl White, the co-founder of House Heroes, a home buying service in Florida. “Luxury property requires advanced video and staging.” Don’t miss these tips to sell your home faster and for more money.
You don’t have a good feeling about an agent
Sometimes something just doesn’t feel right when it comes to your agent. It’s not just in your head. “Don’t ignore your gut when meeting potential real estate agents,” encourages Matthew Proctor, an expert at HomeLight. “Statistics about the agent can get you about 90 percent of the way there, but in order to make sure this agent is the right (or wrong) one for you, see how you feel after your first meeting.” Next, find out the 26 real estate terms you should know before buying a house.