When you’re buying or selling a home, there’s one decision you make that arguably has the biggest influence on the entire process:
Your choice of real estate agent.
If you end up with a bad agent, the whole process of buying and selling can become stressful and hugely frustrating. Naturally, it’s a situation you shouldn’t have to put up with.
So what kind of credentials should you look for in an agent? Ultimately, they have two main jobs:
- They need to be excellent at the business side of things. That includes things like strong negotiation skills and in-depth industry knowledge.
- They need to be highly adept at finding or marketing a property, going beyond basic methods such as listing on the MLS and “regular” marketing.
Summed up, a “bad” agent will fall short on both these areas of their job.
What type of agent do you need?
In the luxury housing market especially, buyers and sellers need to be extra picky about the agent they choose. The more luxurious and expensive a property is the more “non-commodity” it is, which means the agent you choose needs to have specific skills, experience and a proven record of success.
How can you be sure your agent isn’t doing a good job? Here are 10 signs you hired a bad agent.
1) Lack of communication
Agents work long hours and often deal with multiple clients at once, but you should still be able to get in touch with them. While your agent won’t always be on hand to meet face-to-face, they should be available via phone, text or email. It’s also fair to expect regular updates from your agent. Even if there isn’t any news to report, keeping you in the loop is all part of the service they should be providing.
2) They don’t really listen to your needs
Your agent should spend a lot of time listening and taking notes of your personal needs – especially in that all-important first meeting. But that doesn’t always happen.
Cindy Metz, a top realtor with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty in Scottsdale, Arizona, describes the kind of signals that indicate an agent hasn’t been paying attention.
“I think the number one red flag that a person has hired the wrong agent is when you specifically say what you are looking for and the agent takes you to homes that do not match your criteria – they talk more than they listen,” says Metz.
“A good agent is one that listens to the needs of the buyer and finds the homes that match the criteria, it is also helpful if the agent can think outside the box, as sometimes there are great options that are just outside the criteria list.”
In the end, a bad listener makes a bad agent.
3) They don’t ask the right questions
For an agent to understand your personal needs, they don’t just need to ask questions, they need to ask the right kind of questions.
A selling agent should drill down for specifics, such as asking how much you paid for the property, its age and what’s included in the sale. They should also ask more general questions that can help aid the sale, like what you enjoy most about living there.
A buying agent should look for details about the kind of home you’re looking for based on factors such as price, size, style and location while getting you to list priorities and unique needs.
By asking insightful questions, an agent can dramatically improve the chances of you getting a quick and profitable sale or finding your dream home.
4) Doesn’t act professional
The very least you should expect from an agent is a professional service. While you may be happy to let a one-off incident slide, late showings, missed appointments and a sloppy dress code shouldn’t be tolerated.
After all, if your agent is willing to publicly reveal a lack of professionalism, chances are they’re privately not acting professionally on your behalf, either.
5) Too aggressive
While some agents might urge you to take their advice, you should never feel bulldozed into making a decision. Aside from it all feeling pretty uncomfortable, an aggressive agent could end up convincing you to make a costly mistake.
Things to look out for? As a buyer, be aware of an agent pushing you into making an offer before you’ve had time to consider other options. As a seller, being pressed into accepting an offer you clearly perceive as being low should set alarm bells ringing.
6) Lacks confidence
A fundamental attribute every top agent should have? Confidence.
An agent (especially one that sells luxury homes) should feel as if they’re at the top of their game. As a buyer, having a set of predetermined questions for a hiring interview is a great way to help you measure an agent’s self-assurance. An agent who seems hesitant and fumbles for solid answers will tell you a lot about their overall confidence levels.
7) No leadership skills
An agent should always give you their honest advice — even when they know you don’t completely agree with them. While your thoughts should always be considered and respected, remember that you’ve hired your agent for their expertize. If they defer to you on every decision, it could indicate a lack of confidence and experience.
8) They lack marketing skills
The quality of marketing materials an agent uses is hugely important – even more so when you’re showcasing a luxurious and valuable property.
Are your agent’s marketing skills up to scratch? Start by looking at their website. Top agents consider their websites as a key tool in marketing a property, so inspecting how they market properties on their site will reveal a lot.
Compare the way they present your property to other properties you’re competing with. Are your adverts, brochures and photos at the same standard? A substandard set of marketing skills is a sure-fire sign you hired a bad real estate agent.
9) Lack of organization
The real estate industry is complex – especially when it comes to high-priced properties. Many agents also work long hours, often at a hectic pace. But none of these reasons provides an excuse for them to drop the ball.
Mixing up appointments and forgetting crucial details are all signs you hired a bad agent. When you’re buying or selling an exclusive property, you need an individual with laser-like focus and impeccable organizational skills.
10) They don’t have insider knowledge
A good agent should have information the general public doesn’t have. That means possessing an in-depth knowledge of the market and an ability to offer you access to properties not listed on the MLS.
When it comes to a seller’s listing, bad real estate agents will rely on obvious methods such as listing on the MLS, public open houses, for sale signs, public websites and basic advertising. In contrast, a top agent will utilize every resource at their disposal – a point echoed by Metz.
“Anyone can put a sign in the yard, but it’s understanding the local market, networking with other agents to find buyers before you go active on MLS, spending the extra money for great photography, and thinking outside the box that gets the home sold.”
It’s these type of skills that top agents bring to the table, attracting the most motivated, qualified and realistic buyers.
What to do if you hired the wrong real estate agent
If you hired a bad agent, the most important thing to do is resolve the situation quickly.
If you’re selling a luxury home or high-priced property, we recommend hiring an agent that’s ranked within the top 10% of their local market.