If you’re unhappy with your real estate agent, that doesn’t necessarily mean your agent is acting maliciously. Whether you’re in the process of buying or selling your house, sometimes your chosen real estate agent just isn’t up to the task.
A real estate agent that isn’t getting the job done may not be the right fit personality-wise, could be prioritizing other clients, or may not have access to the resources you need to stand out in a competitive housing market.
Watch out for these signs of a bad real estate agent, so you can protect your best interests during your upcoming real estate transaction.
No one real estate agent is perfect, and chances are even the best agents will occasionally rub you the wrong way, but in general you’ll want to avoid as many of these red flags as possible.
When you hire a real estate agent to help you sell or buy a home, you’re relying on them to support you while you navigate a complex and often time-sensitive process. If you don’t get clear updates from your real estate agent and find it difficult to communicate with them, you risk missing out on good opportunities and the entire experience will be a lot more stressful than it needs to be.
Ideally, if you contact your real estate agent with a question, concern, or need, they will get back to you within 24 to 48 hours. Really, the sooner the better. You don’t want to miss the chance to put an offer on your dream home because your agent won’t return your calls in a timely manner.
When you are in touch with your real estate agent, they should demonstrate strong listening skills and allow you to ask as many questions as you need to feel confident about moving forward. This is a two-way street, and your agent should also ask you the right questions. Whether you’re buying or selling, they need to know what your time frame looks like, how you prefer to communicate (phone or email), and what your expectations of them are.
Both buying a home and selling a home are complex processes and the whole point of working with a real estate agent is to make that process go as smoothly as possible. You need to work with an experienced agent that is confident in their abilities and ready to guide you through the process. You’re relying on their knowledge and expertise, so they should embrace that and take charge of the process, while still respecting your opinions and decisions.
This goes without saying, but your real estate agent should always act professionally. If they show up late for appointments, don’t dress professionally, and ignore your efforts to communicate with them, then you should consider finding a new agent who you feel comfortable representing you.
Honesty comes into play here too. A major red flag is if your real estate agent asks you to lie about disclosures or to make a false claim on an advertisement. If your agent suggests unethical behavior, or doesn't even have a proper license, walk away and don’t look back.
By contrast, a bad agent will try and pressure you into making a decision about a home that you're not comfortable with. No matter what their opinion is, a good agent will respect that your opinion is what matters most and should be ready to support your decisions. This is as true for buyers and renters as they are sellers. The real estate agent isn’t the one who will live in your new home or pay the mortgage for the next three decades, or the one who's footing the bill to make repairs to sell the home.
Being a strong negotiator is a valuable skill set and likely one of the reasons you hired a real estate agent is to get help on when it comes to the details of the transaction. When you work with an agent that can negotiate on your behalf, they not only make your life a whole lot easier, but ideally they should ensure you get the best deal possible. You don’t want to sell your house for less than it’s worth or give up contingencies when buying if you can avoid it.
To get a feel for if your real estate agent is a good negotiator before you’re at the negotiation table requires some work up front. Before you hire an agent, ask for references from previous and pastclients and check out online reviews to get an idea if they’re a good negotiator or not.
If you’re selling a home, you should aim to hire an agent that has strong marketing skills, which are a very valuable asset. You want to attract the right buyers and an agent who knows their way around marketing tactics can make that happen.
Do a quick Google search before you sign a contract with an agent to see what their web presence is like. If they have a great website and multiple active social media accounts, that’s a good sign that they have an audience and reach that will make selling the home easier. You should also inquire as to what their marketing plan for your home is, which is especially important in a buyer’s market.
To an extent, it’s understandable why real estate agents get more excited about clients with expensive homes to sell or bigger budgets when buying. But just because a bigger commission is at stake, doesn’t mean your agent should treat you as less than if you’re in a lower pricing category.
Depending on where you live, it can also be a big red flag if your agent wants to represent both sides of the transaction. Dual agency, or working as both listing agent and buyers agent isn't always allowed. (And even when it is, you may want to be wary.)
If you start to feel that your agent is not giving priority to your needs, it could indicate that they are placing their own interests ahead of yours. You want to work with an agent who is happy to show you as many listings as you need or puts as much effort into selling your home as they would if it was worth twice the price.
If you realize your real estate agent isn’t the right fit for you, you do have options for going your separate ways. This is a relationship, and sadly not all relationships are meant to work out. Here's how to fire your agent tactfully and part ways amicably.
Be honest with your real estate agent about why you think they aren’t a good fit for your needs. There’s a good chance they’ll release you from the agreement you’ve signed. They may even agree to address or fix their behavior and salvage their relationship with you. Be honest and upfront about what you need from them — they may very well rise to the occasion.
Even if a real estate agent will let you out of your contract, you may need to give a little here. There will likely be conditions you have to deal with when you break your contract, such as reimbursing the agent for any marketing and advertising costs. If you are unhappy with their services, a small compromise like this may be worth the opportunity to move on.
If the real estate agent won’t budge and release you from your contract, you can contact a lawyer for assistance. They may be able to get you out of your contract, especially if the agent didn’t live up to their end of the bargain.
(If you're looking for a new real estate agent, you might consider Orchard. We have top-notch local agents who know the ins and outs of the market and can help you buy before you sell. Get started here.)
Yes, it is possible to fire your agent while under contract, but there may be potential consequences that you need to consider. Consult a legal professional or review your listing agreement and contract thoroughly before taking any action to make sure you're not going against anything that was set in fine print.
Tensions can run high when it comes to real estate. However, certain signs and red flags aren't necessarily a deal breaker or warning sign.
Here's what else to know about good and bad agents to guide you on your real estate journey, whether you're looking to rent, buy, or sell.
Yes, you have the ability to fire your real estate agent at any point in the process if you are unhappy with their services. But, it is essential to review the terms and conditions of your contract to understand any potential negative consequences. For example, you may still have to pay your listing agent if you're close to closing. It might be a good idea to speak with a lawyer to help navigate the process and ensure you're complying with any contractual agreements. (This is also why it's a good idea for to review the terms of your listing agreement when you hire someone to sell your house.)
Effective communication is key, so try discussing your concerns with your agent before making a final decision. Even though it might be awkward or contentious, it may be better off than starting over from scratch, but it depends on how bad the situation is.
While real estate agents can be busy, excessive unavailability or difficulty scheduling appointments may hinder your home buying or selling process. If your agent consistently fails to make time for you or prioritize your needs, it could be a sign of subpar service.
Pushy behavior can manifest as pressure to make quick decisions, disregard for your preferences, or attempts to persuade you into unsuitable properties or deals. A good real estate agent should respect your choices and provide guidance without exerting undue influence.
The most common complaints filed against realtors include lack of communication, misrepresentation of property information, conflict of interest, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty. It's important to research and choose a realtor with a good reputation and to communicate openly to address any concerns during the buying or selling process.
Yes, a real estate agent's track record can provide insight into their effectiveness. If an agent has a history of unsuccessful deals, it may suggest a lack of negotiation skills, poor marketing strategies, or an inability to close transactions successfully. Before deciding to work with someone, try reaching out to a past client to confirm their experience.
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