Most of us aren’t trained to detect signs of a bad real estate agent, especially if we’re new to the process. Finding the right real estate agent to help you locate the perfect property is a matter of trial and error. Not every personality will be a good match for you, and some agents are hungrier than others.
There are around 1.36 million real estate agents in the United States, the highest number ever. Unfortunately, higher numbers bring some real estate agents who aren’t as good as others. Getting into a relationship with an inexperienced or sloppy agent wastes time and may cost you the house of your dreams. Your ideal agent should dedicate their time and energy to helping you find a home you love at a price you can afford.
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If this is your first time buying a home, you may not understand everything an agent should handle for you. You may find it hard to know if your agent is good or bad. Thankfully, there are some ways of spotting a real estate agent who isn’t up to par. If you see any of these five signs of a bad real estate agent, run in the other direction and instead find a professional who has your best interests at heart.
1. Slow Responses
Ideally, your agent will be readily available via phone, text or email anytime during waking hours. Most agents show houses based on what works for your schedule, although they do juggle multiple clients. While an agent might not answer when you call, they should return your call within a couple of hours. If they don’t get right back to you, consider it a sign they may not be on top of their work. Even a quick text letting you know they got your message, but are tied up, is preferable to no response at all. The last thing you want is an agent who doesn’t get your offer in as soon as you make it, thus causing you to lose out on buying the house of your dreams.
Of course, respectful communication is a two-way street. Make sure you’re honoring your agent’s off-hours and clarify the best way to get in touch with them throughout the process.
2. Never Mentions the Process
Buying a home is a lengthy process filled with paperwork and multiple steps along the way. A qualified agent gets you rolling on the approval process to ensure you can afford the homes they show you and explains the timeline of making an offer, securing the loan, closing and all the costs involved. If your agent brushes off the paperwork or refuses to share details, it’s probably time to find an agent who communicates a bit more clearly.
The best place to find a talented agent is usually referrals from family and friends who’ve previously worked with that person. But you can also drive around neighborhoods to see who’s most active, search online reviews and open up discussions with multiple representatives before making your decision.
3. Lack of Listening Skills
Does your agent seem to have a problem listening to what you need? A bad agent shows you homes that don’t match anything you told them you wanted. If you explained you want a home on a quiet street because you work nights and need to sleep during the day, and the agent shows you a home on a busy thoroughfare, they aren’t listening to you. Perhaps you asked for three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and the agent keeps showing you houses with one bathroom. While there are some limitations in available inventory, especially in high-demand areas, the agent should at least explain why they think the house will work for your needs.
We all have to learn to make sacrifices here and there, especially when it comes to market limitations. But if your needs go consistently unaddressed, this is among the most important signs of a bad real estate agent.
4. No Network
Experienced agents develop a network of professionals on whom they call for a variety of complementary services. For example, they’ll have mortgage brokers they can recommend to begin your approval process. They know of home inspectors who can go in and spot any issues before you close on the house. If you’re selling a home, they have a relationship with a company that goes in and stages the rooms.
Whatever your need related to the home-buying or selling process, a real estate broker has a contact and can make a recommendation. These secondary services need to be the best in the industry as well. While you should always do your due diligence before hiring, it’s best to be able to tap into a top-notch network.
5. Their Watch Seems Broken
If the agent is consistently late, they don’t value your time. While anyone can be late to one appointment due to traffic, weather or other conditions, if your agent is always running behind, that behavior screams unprofessionalism and shows they don’t think your time is as important as theirs. A good agent will look ahead, see they’re going to be late to a showing and let you know in advance so you can readjust your schedule and not spend an hour waiting for them to show up. However, they also will do everything they can to ensure they aren’t rescheduling over and over.
Watch for These Signs of a Bad Real Estate Agent
Many different red flags signal your real estate agent might not be the right choice for your needs. One of the signs of a bad real estate agent above is enough to find a new person to work with, but you may feel you should stick with the one you have and give them another chance. You must learn to trust your instincts and make the choice that’s best for you.
You’re investing a lot of time and money into your new home, so you want to feel good about the option you select. Your agent is a partner in this decision, and you deserve one that gives you their full focus and the help you need to navigate buying a new home.
If you must end the relationship, be honest about your reasons for doing so, and if necessary, go over the agent’s head to the owner of the real estate firm. Wasting time with an agent who isn’t a good fit is frustrating and doesn’t get you any closer to the house of your dreams.