How to spot a bad real estate agent

Watch out for these warning signs

Imagine this - you just began your journey of finding your next home. Driving in a car with your agent and wife, you stop at the first property. Of course, you’ve already looked at it online, but you want to review it in person. The agent opens the doors, and you step inside. Everything seems similar to the photos - but just a little less new and clean. The light isn’t quite as bright as it was in the picture. The entrance has a slightly strange nook. Yet, your agent is glowing about how this is simply an amazing steal that will not last long.

Your agent senses that you’re not looking completely thrilled at what you’re seeing. So, he changes direction and emphasizes the positives. The kitchen was newly redone. The list price is quite good, and with a bit of negotiation, it can be under-budget.

Then, you begin to sense that the agent is ramping up the pressure on you. A sense of urgency becomes pervasive. The agent mentions the house is scheduled to receive a number of upcoming open houses, and that a number of other bidders will and are already talking about buying the property. The agent wants you to commit to buying this house right now. Not tomorrow.

This happens all the time. Any agent can lead this narrative because these are all scripts that have been tested over time. The difference between a good agent and a bad one depends on how much weight they put on your interests. It’s in your interest to keep going and see more homes. The good agent will agree, and work with you until you find something you’re truly excited about. Granted, it’s also the role of a good agent to level-set expectations, especially around price. If what you want is realistically outside your budget, the good agent will also find a way to communicate this to you effectively. A good agent will never deliver you a hard-sell instead of establishing a two-way dialogue.

The key predictor of a good vs bad agent is the emphasis on you and your needs. Of course, the top agents will have more experience, a bigger network, and the ability to negotiate expertly. But the foundation, in our experience, is still around how much they value your relationship. Usually, the other factors come from how much effort they’ll put in to getting you the best deal possible.

As such, here are a couple of examples that can indicate a bad agent
- don’t give you time to review the agent’s contract and are pushy about getting it signed
- on each property or potential buyer, they dramatize a sense of urgency
- are not responsive to your questions
- do not want to be interviewed beforehand
- do not have references if they’ve been in the industry for a long time
- do not take the time to learn about you and what you’re looking for

The trouble is, once you begin working with an agent, especially if you’re selling a home and you’ve signed a contract, it’s difficult to cancel working with them. The single best thing you can do before you start working with an agent is to interview them, plus a few other agents. You can do this before they show you the first open house, and before you sign anything. Many smart home buyers and sellers already do this, and agents are completely open to it. All you need to do is ask them the right questions.

Here at AgentVet, we’ve built an entire online platform to help you do just this. We help you find and interview agents so you get the perfect one for you.

Our free online platform helps you find and interview agents.

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