Are you looking to buy a house? Your buddy says his Aunt Nancy is a real estate agent, so you sign a contract with her. Then you don’t hear anything from Nancy—for two weeks. Finally, she calls with the “perfect” house: a ranch-style home. But you told her you want a colonial. Oh, and it’s $100,000 over your budget!
Or are you selling your house? A friend from work told you her cousin Vernon just got his real estate license, so you decide to give ol’ Vern a try. Fast-forward a few months. Vernon has held a couple of open houses and posted your house on his website, but nobody is coming to see it. You look on Zillow and Trulia, and it’s not on either site.
So what happened? In both cases, you hired a bad real estate agent. We know this because nothing is happening in either scenario: Aunt Nancy can’t find the right house and ol’ Vern is just plain incompetent, which would make anyone feel frustrated and angry.
Find a trusted real estate agent we recommend in your area.
So what should you do? Get rid of Aunt Nancy and Cousin Vernon and talk to a real estate Endorsed Local Provider (ELP). These people are great real estate agents. Each has been a full-time agent for at least two years, they’re invested in their local community, they close more deals than 90% of their competitors, and they’re great communicators with the heart of a teacher.
Because some real estate agents—like Aunt Nancy and Cousin Vernon—are just plain bad at their job, it’s important to know what the signs are. We’ll break them down by both buyer’s agents and seller’s agents. That way you’ll know what to watch for and how to get out of either bad situation.
If You’re Buying
A buyer’s agent is responsible for helping you find the best house. They take the time to listen to your needs, understand your budget, and educate you about the market where you’re looking. Once you’ve found the right house, they negotiate a great price and keep you in the loop as the transaction progresses. At least, that’s what they’re supposed to do.
Here are five signs you have a bad buyer’s agent:
1. Communication Issues
One of the most common complaints home buyers have about their real estate agents is that they can’t get in touch with them. The buyers call. They text. They email. And what do they hear back? Crickets. This is especially troubling in a hot housing market, where it’s so important to move quickly when you find a home you like. Poor communication will cause you to miss out on opportunities to buy the house you really want.
2. Power Struggles
We’ll admit that it takes a certain level of swagger to walk a home buyer through (what’s probably) the most expensive purchase they’ll ever make. But that does not mean your real estate agent can forget who’s the boss. You. Are. The. Boss. An agent who pressures you to buy a home you aren’t sure about or one that’s out of your budget is more interested in their commission than helping you find the best home for you and your family.
An agent who pressures you to buy a home you aren’t sure about or one that’s out of your budget is more interested in their commission than helping you find the best home for you and your family.
3. Lack of Leadership
The flip side of this coin is an agent who’s merely a yes-man and doesn’t offer any guidance. You want an agent who’ll give you honest advice based on their research and experience—even when they know you may not like what they have to say. A wishy-washy agent may not have the experience they need to negotiate a good deal on your new home—or they just may not be cut out for the job.
4. Abundance of Attitude
As we mentioned, you want your agent to have confidence in their abilities. But that doesn’t give them a license to be a jerk. No matter how many questions you have or how basic they may be, your agent should be patient enough to answer each one without throwing a ton of jargon at you. And you must be able to trust your agent to behave professionally on your behalf. It’s simple: You don’t have to put up with an arrogant, condescending or just plain rude agent.
5. You’re Getting Nowhere
It’s been months. You aren’t any closer to buying a home than when you started. That’s a big problem. Now, if you’re being overly critical of the homes your agent is showing you, then this could be your fault. But if your agent isn’t showing you any homes whatsoever or, even worse, keeps showing you homes that you’ve already said aren’t right for you, they’re wasting your time.
If you’re reading through this list and find yourself nodding along, or if little lightbulbs are lighting up in your head, it’s probably time to hire a new agent.
If You’re Selling
A seller’s agent (sometimes called a listing agent) is so important when you’re selling a house. A great one educates you about the market in your neighborhood and helps you set the correct price. They take care of all the marketing to make sure that interested and qualified buyers see it. They give you tips about staging your home for showings and help make sure the curb appeal is actually, you know, appealing. Finally, they’re expert negotiators who make sure you get the most value out of your sale.
Of course, a bad agent doesn’t do these things. Here are five signs you have a bad listing agent:
1. Less Than Two Years of Full-Time Experience
This is a huge deal-breaker for a seller’s agent. An inexperienced agent doesn’t have the industry contacts or (sometimes) even the know-how to handle the home-selling process. Misfiled paperwork or a missed deadline can easily botch your home sale. And you need an experienced negotiator—both for the sale price and any repairs that may come up after the home inspection. You cannot fake experience.
2. Lack of Communication
You shouldn’t be waiting around to hear from your real estate agent. There are so many ways for your agent to stay in contact with you: There’s text messaging, email and, heck, there’s even video chat. But if you find yourself always asking your agent for updates—or if you get no answers—that’s a massive red flag. Your agent should make it a priority to keep you in the loop, even if nothing new has happened.
3. Poor Marketing
Your agent’s job is to attract as many potential customers as possible to view your home—and that means a lot more than putting a sign in your yard and posting a photo on their website. In the industry, that’s known as “Post and Pray.” It’s when you post a sign in front of a home and pray someone buys it. We’re big believers in the power of prayer, but we also believe in marketing and hard work. Ask to see your agent’s marketing plan for your home. Make sure you understand why they choose some venues instead of others. They may have a good reason, but that’s something they need to explain to you.
Your agent’s job is to attract as many potential customers as possible to view your home—and that means a lot more than putting a sign in your yard and posting a photo on their website.
4. Misplaced Priorities
The math is pretty easy when it comes to an agent’s commission: The more expensive the house is, the bigger the commission will be. But that fact should never come into play in the way an agent represents his clients. Is your agent treating you as a “lesser” client just because of the price point of your home? Here’s what to watch for: lack of communication, showing up late for appointments, little patience for answering questions, and even pressure to decrease your asking price without giving any evidence to support that decision. A good real estate agent will show you a list of all the houses for sale in your neighborhood, the asking prices of houses similar to yours and the final prices of homes that recently sold. If your agent isn’t doing any of these things, it’s a major sign that something isn’t right.
5. Nothing’s Happening
Here’s the bottom line: Real estate is a results-based business. If it’s been weeks with no showings, no calls and no interest, it’s time for a “come to Jesus” meeting with your agent. In this meeting, your agent had better have some new ideas for attracting buyers, and they’d better be able to explain how those ideas will help you sell your home. If they don’t, or if they say they will and the problem persists, stop wasting your time with the wrong agent.
Here’s the bottom line: Real estate is a results-based business. If it’s been weeks with no showings, no calls and no interest, it’s time for a meeting with your agent.
What to Do if You Have a Bad Real Estate Agent
You’ve tried speaking with your agent. You’ve had not one, but several “Come to Jesus” meetings, and they’re just not coming around. It’s time to let them go.
But you have to be careful and read your contract. Usually, they’ll have you sign an exclusive buyer’s or seller’s agreement that has a defined expiration date. The first thing to do is speak with the agent’s broker and ask them to let you out of the deal. Brokers don’t want to be known as “terrible” in their communities.
If that doesn’t work, it may be time to get a lawyer involved. But if that’s too expensive or impractical, or if nothing else works, you may just have to wait out the contract. If your agent has any integrity at all, it shouldn’t come to this.
In the meantime, you can start interviewing a replacement.
How to Avoid Hiring a Bad Agent in the First Place
Now that we know what a bad real estate agent looks like, let’s talk about how to avoid this whole sordid business from the beginning.
The awesome thing is that we’ve made it really easy for you. All you need to do is get in touch with one of our real estate ELPs. These agents are the best of the best. We wouldn’t endorse them otherwise. Each one goes through a thorough vetting process to make sure they close more houses than 90% of the agents in their market. They have the heart of a teacher and will walk with you through every step of the process, making sure you understand exactly what’s happening so you can make the best and wisest decisions throughout your home-buying or home-selling process.