16 Signs of a Bad Real Estate Agent
We’ve all heard horror stories about homes sitting on the market for years and buyers ending up in a home they hate because they were pushed into it by an unethical and unqualified real estate agent.
Being in real estate since 2004, I’ve worked with tons of realtors, including the ones whom I managed as their broker. I can say that the signs of a bad real estate agent aren’t too hard to identify.
As you go through this guide, take note if you currently have an agent. See if they do any of these 16 things. If they do, you might want to think twice about who you hired.
Let’s start with the top 5 most basic and important signs of a bad realtor.
16 Clear Signs of a Bad Realtor
Top 5 Signs of a Bad Real Estate Agent
All potential benefits of using a real estate agent to buy or sell your home can turn to damage to your wallet and waste of time if you keep working with a bad specialist.
When you’re choosing a professional, you’ll want to first look out for these five signs. Below are the 5 initial red flags that should stop you in your tracks and motivate you to look elsewhere for assistance.
- Lack of communication
- Being unfamiliar with the market
- Being too pushy
- Dishonesty and sneakiness
- Unwillingness to compromise
In the following sections, we’ll break down all the signs of a bad real estate agent so you can identify them early and avoid wasting your valuable time.
Note: if you are a real estate agent yourself reading this article to learn how not to be a bad realtor, I suggest that you read these tips from Real Estate Bees realtor experts:
Works With Too Many Buyers
One of the first things you’ll want to look for when shopping for the best real estate agent is someone with a proven track record and experience in the market. Chances are, this person will have a lot of transactions going at once.
They’re busy, and that’s a good thing. But, the best real estate agents don’t spread themselves so thin that they leave no time for their buyers. This is what bad real estate agents do. As a buyer, you need a lot of help. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, this is even more true.
If the agent is working with too many buyers at a time, you’ll notice some of the following warning signs:
- Slow to respond to calls and texts.
- Pushes showings out for days.
- Rushes you through showings.
- Consistently has other agents fill in.
If your buyer’s agent doesn’t have enough time for you, it’s time to move on and find someone else. While it’s important to use a top-producing real estate agent in your transaction, you need a person who is looking out for your interest and not treating you like a number.
There is nothing wrong with a “side-hustle” to make some extra money and not all part-time agents are bad. That said, a lot of them are unavailable when you need them.
If your part-time agent has a full-time job, that’s their main priority. Keep in mind that the purchase of a home is most people’s biggest purchase of their life. You need someone who takes this seriously and is devoted to their career.
You’ll also notice the difference between a part-time and full-time agent when the housing market is hot. When homes are flying off the MLS, you might only have a small window to see it and make an offer before it’s gone.
If your agent can’t drop everything and show you the house of your dreams, you need to find someone who can.
Consistently Shows Up Late to Showings
We all have things coming up that force us to miss appointments and show up late sometimes. There’s a fine line between acceptable and unacceptable.
If your agent fails to show up on time more than once, you should start paying close attention to their behavior and mannerisms. Doing so might cause you to notice other things you didn’t notice before.
Next time your agent shows up late or not at all, you’ll know it’s time to find someone else to assist you with your home purchase.
Talks You Out of Looking at a Home
Nothing is more frustrating than an agent who picks and chooses what transactions they’d like to be involved in. As a real estate agent, it’s their duty to handle every job that comes their way no matter what that entails.
Some agents prefer to only deal with larger commission jobs. Because of this, they can weasel their way out of smaller jobs by simply talking you out of it.
Let’s say you’re shopping for a home in the $150,000 range. You contact an agent, give them the criteria you’re looking for, and show them a few homes you’d like to go see.
All the while, they’re dealing with three other clients who are looking for homes in the $300,000-400,000 range.
Since the agent doesn’t want to bother with your small transaction, they mislead you into thinking the houses you want to see aren’t good enough, there are issues with them, or they have a ton of offers over asking price.
The bottom line is, if the agent constantly talks you out of going to see a home, chances are it’s because they’re too busy and uninterested in helping you.
Isn’t an Expert in Buying Contracts
As a homebuyer, you need to do a bit of your own research to make sure you understand how a real estate agreement works (to learn about it, I suggest you read this article by TheMortgageReports.com). The buyer will put forth their conditions to purchase the home and then the seller can agree or negotiate new terms.
Once both parties agree, the contract is drawn up and it becomes legally binding. At this time, the purchase of the home goes into the pending stage while factors such as financing, inspections, appraisals, and title checks are performed.
Your agent should have no problem explaining all of this to you. If you’ve reached this stage and the agent seems unsure or you find that his/her information differs from what you know to be true, you might want to get a second opinion so the deal doesn’t fall through.
Won’t Travel Outside Their Primary Market
Every agent has a primary market that they specialize in. Even in small areas, every agent likes to operate within a certain mile radius because it’s convenient for them and it makes it easier for them to manage their workload.
This doesn’t mean they should turn down a showing because it’s five miles away from their general market. Most agents are more than happy to show you whatever house you want to see within reason.
In the event that you do choose a house that is a bit outside the target market, the agent should just kindly inform you of that. They should provide a solution such as another house to see that is closer or another agent who can open the door for you. The agent should never decline a showing because it’s too far away.
Too Pushy During Showings
As a buyer, you’re under a lot of pressure. You’re thinking about financing, mortgages, commutes to work, changing schools, and probably a variety of other factors.
You need a buyer’s agent who is helping you, not forcing you to buy. Of course, we’d be naive to think that the agent doesn’t want to get the sale — obviously they do. But, a big part of getting the sale is helping you find the home you’d do anything to live in. Their job is not to push you into something you don’t want.
If you find the agent being overly pushy and agitated when you are unsure about a house, you might want to find someone with a bit more patience and empathy.
Uninterested and Unhelpful
One of the biggest signs of a terrible real estate agent is when they seem to lack interest in their job. Nothing is worse than going on a showing with an agent who leans by the front door and lets you walk through the house without even saying anything.
First of all, an agent who is truly interested in helping you, will ask you questions to understand what kind of house will fit you best. When suggesting properties for viewings and during tours, they will advise how closely the property matches your requirements. They’ll possess basic construction knowledge and should be able to give you a little backstory on the home.
The best agents will be more than happy to walk with you, talk about the features of the home, and answer any questions you may have. Even if they can’t answer your question now, they should be able to find the answer by contacting the seller’s agent or using other resources.
If you’re getting answers such as:
- I don’t know.
- I’m not sure.
- I wouldn’t worry about it.
and hear little to no questions helping determine whether a house is a good fit for your needs, it means the agent doesn’t care. Bad realtors just want to move from one client to another.
Constantly Giving Bad News
Some agents never seem to have anything good to say. You send them a house you found on Zillow to check if you can see it and you get a response like this:
“Yeah, I don’t know, it’s kind of close to the flood zone. I’ve heard quite a few bad things about that street. Let’s pass on this one.”
A great real estate agent will never say things like that. They’ll always provide a solution or at least leave the final decision up to you. If you want to see a house, it’s their job to show it to you.
Another sign of a bad real estate agent is when a lot of offers are falling out and they keep coming back to you with the bad news. If your agent doesn’t possess the negotiation skills necessary to seal the deal, you need to find someone else.
Doesn’t Offer Their Expertise and Experience
Whether you’ve purchased zero homes or eight homes, chances are, the real estate agent has been involved in far more transactions than you. You need their expertise and experience to guide you through.
A good agent must educate you during selecting a good home. Expect them to partially teach you what they know about properties, including technicalities related to construction and location. They may have asked you about your preferences at the beginning. But there may be more important factors you have no idea about.
Additionally to your desired features, they should advise what other things it makes sense to weigh. What’s even more important, they must inform you about potential inconveniences in properties you are touring.
If the agent seems passive and unwilling to offer valuable insight, it could mean they don’t have any or they simply don’t care enough to help you.
If your agent has too many of the aforementioned signs, you will probably want to also read the article on how to get out of a buyer’s agent agreement. And now, let’s move to the signs of a bad listing agent.
Lack of Successful History
You shouldn’t have to go very far to find your agent’s most recent transaction. If they can’t tell you when they last sold a house, you might want to end the conversation right there.
Even more importantly, how did the transactions go? Did the agent list five houses and they all went for much less than the asking price? Why did that happen? These are all questions that deserve answers and a good real estate agent will have no problem answering them.
Check their past listings online on popular property listing websites. Information about the number of days on the market and asking price adjustment history are publicly available. If you see the agent’s properties sitting on the market for a few months and asking prices being lowered many times, ask your realtor why.
You don’t need to deal with an agent that isn’t prepared to get you the best offer for your home.
Poor Real Estate Marketing Skills
I cannot stress enough the importance of having the right real estate marketing plan. Your agent must have a proven strategy and fine-tuned system in place to market your property and have offers flying in as soon as possible.
During a hot market, it’s no big deal and most decent homes will sell rather quickly. It’s during the buyer’s market when marketing is much more important. The seller’s agent should have a variety of unique ways to help you get the highest offer for your home.
This is one area where experience isn’t always an indicator of a great realtor. Some real estate agents who have been in business for a long time might not have the modern marketing skills necessary to promote your property and compete with the new generation of agents.
One way to tell if your prospective realtor is up to the task is to take a look at their online presence.
- Do they have a lot of reviews?
- Do they have their own website and active social media pages?
- What methods do they use to promote their properties?
- Do you see their listings on multiple property listing platforms?
If you find a realtor that has a large following on social media, this is a great sign. That following may end up sharing your property with someone they know and that’s how they get the ball rolling.
But rather than looking simply at the number of subscribers (which can be fake), look at how often the agent publishes posts and how many people like, share and comment on their posts.
Some “old-school” realtors might not want to implement the new technology and methods of promoting properties thus doing you a disservice and making it harder for your home to stand out.
The best realtors will ask you for your preferred means of communication and they’ll update you every time something happens. If you’re waiting days to hear from your realtor, it means that nothing is happening with your home and that shouldn’t be the case.
There may be a situation where a one or two-hour delay can cost you a good offer on your home, especially in a buyer’s market. Your agent’s skills in managing quick communication between you and interested buyers is crucial.
Sometimes they get busy and that’s fine. But, when that happens, you should be able to contact them at any point for an update. If they’re not returning your calls and texts or taking longer than a day or two to get back to you, that’s a red flag.
Bad Online Reviews
Bad realtors get bad reviews; it’s simple. Read online reviews about your real estate agent before you hire them. Even if your best friend or family member recommended the realtor, you need to go online and read reviews about them to get the unbiased truth.
It also helps to check out the website for the broker they work with. You can check Tom Jones realtor on Google but if Tom Jones works for a local real estate brokerage firm (which happens in most cases), you might want to check the brokerage’s reputation on review sites too.
A lot of people leave reviews on the brokerage’s business listing about specific realtors.
You are working with a bad agent if you see they’ve been dishonest. This includes situations where concealing or misinterpreting information is seemingly in your best interest.
As an example, an agent may sell your house to a buyer who won’t notice a problem with its condition. Later, your buyer will file a lawsuit against you.
When you see any signs of dishonesty, think twice before continuing working with the realtor.
Bad Negotiation Skills
One of the most important skills of a seller’s agent is the ability to negotiate on your behalf. You need an agent with grit and determination because they can’t fold under pressure and give in when a buyer’s agent comes at them with a low-ball offer.
If your agent is consistently coming to you with offers below asking price, asking you to accept them, or acting shaky about going back with a counteroffer, they might lack confidence. There are also many situations in a real estate transaction that may require negotiation.
A buyer might be dissatisfied with something about your home and ask you to take care of it before they decide to purchase. If you’re unwilling to make those repairs or changes, a good real estate agent would have you wait it out for better offers, counter with something less significant, or find another arrangement.
A lot of these negotiation skills come from experience and seeing everything before. But in the first place, your agent should be an individual who is willing to go the extra mile for their clients.
I’ve provided you with 16 signs of a bad real estate agent. Whether you’re on the buying or selling side of the transaction, these tips can help you avoid an unprofessional agent.
Now, the question is: how do you identify a good realtor? For this purpose, Real Estate Bees team has developed a comprehensive directory of the best real estate agents near you. Use this database to help yourself find the right realtor, in less time.
Lastly, you can read this article on choosing the right real estate agent to buy or sell your house with advice provided by experienced and reputable real estate agents from the aforementioned Real Estate Bees’ directory.
Remember that this is one of the most important transactions of your life so you need the right person to represent you. Don’t be afraid to tell your agent that they’re simply not up to the task. It’s your money and your life. So, it is ultimately your choice.
About the Author
Christian Saunders is the owner and broker at Christian Saunders Real Estate, located in Dunmore, PA. Christian and his team represent buyers and sellers in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wayne, and Monroe counties. Christian has combined decades of experience assisting people with real estate transactions. He puts a lot of effort into each of his listings and strives to tailor his efforts in a way that will best suite each unique transaction.
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