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Home Buying

Signs of a Bad Real Estate Agent

Are you looking to buy a house? Your buddy says his Aunt Nancy is a real estate agent, so you sign a contract with her. Then you don’t hear anything from Nancy—for two weeks. Finally, she calls with the “perfect” house: a ranch-style home. But you told her you want a colonial. Oh, and it’s $100,000 over your budget!

Or are you selling your house? A friend from work told you her cousin Vernon just got his real estate license, so you decide to give ol’ Vern a try. Fast-forward a few months. Vernon has held a couple of open houses and posted your house on his website, but nobody is coming to see it. You look on Zillow and Trulia, and it’s not on either site.

In both cases, you hired a bad real estate agent. Because some real estate agents are just plain bad at their job, it’s important to know what the signs are. We’ll break them down by both buyers agents and sellers agents. That way you’ll know what to watch for and how to get out of either bad situation.

Signs You Have a Bad Buyers Agent

Buying a house is one of the biggest purchases you can make—so make sure you’ve got an agent you can count on. Here are five signs you have a bad buyers agent:

1. Communication Issues

One of the most common complaints home buyers have about their real estate agents is that they can’t get in touch with them. The buyers call. They text. They email. And what do they hear back? Crickets. This is especially troubling in a hot housing market, where it’s so important to move quickly when you find a home you like. Poor communication will cause you to miss out on opportunities to buy the house you really want. Don’t settle for an agent who ignores you.

2. Power Struggles

We’ll admit that it takes a certain level of swagger to walk a home buyer through (what’s probably) the most expensive purchase they’ll ever make. But that does not mean your real estate agent can forget who’s the boss. You. Are. The. Boss. An agent who pressures you to buy a home you aren’t sure about or one that’s out of your budget is more interested in their commission than helping you.

3. Lack of Leadership

The flip side of this coin is an agent who’s merely a yes-man and doesn’t offer any guidance. You want an agent who’ll give you honest advice based on their research and experience—even when they know you may not like what they have to say. A wishy-washy agent may not have the experience they need to negotiate a good deal on your new home—or they just may not be cut out for the job.

4. Abundance of Attitude

As we mentioned, you want your agent to have confidence in their abilities. But that doesn’t give them a license to be a jerk. No matter how many questions you have or how basic they may be, your agent should be patient enough to answer each one without throwing a ton of jargon at you. And you must be able to trust your agent to behave professionally on your behalf. It’s simple: You don’t have to put up with an arrogant, condescending or just plain rude agent.

5. You’re Getting Nowhere

It’s been months. You aren’t any closer to buying a home than when you started. That’s a big problem. Now, if you’re being overly critical of the homes your agent is showing you, then this could be your fault. But if your agent isn’t showing you any homes whatsoever or, even worse, keeps showing you homes that you’ve already said aren’t right for you, they’re wasting your time.

Find a trusted real estate agent we recommend in your area.

If you’re reading through this list of warning signs and nodding along, or if little lightbulbs are going off in your head, it’s probably time to hire someone new.

Signs You Have a Bad Sellers Agent

A quality sellers agent (sometimes called a listing agent) is so important when you’re selling a house. Here are five signs that your listing agent isn’t meeting the mark:

1. Less Than Two Years of Full-Time Experience

This is a huge deal-breaker for a sellers agent. An inexperienced agent doesn’t have the industry contacts or (sometimes) the know-how to handle the home-selling process. Misfiled paperwork or a missed deadline can easily botch your home sale. You need an experienced negotiator—both for the sale price and any repairs that may come up after the home inspection. And you cannot fake experience.

2. Your Agent Ignores You

You shouldn’t be waiting around to hear from your real estate agent. There are so many ways for your agent to stay in contact with you. If you find yourself always asking your agent for updates—or if you get no answers—that’s a massive red flag. Your agent should make it a priority to keep you in the loop, even if nothing new has happened.

3. Poor Marketing

Your agent’s job is to attract as many potential customers as possible to view your home—and that means a lot more than putting a sign in your yard and posting a photo on their website. In the industry, that’s known as “Post and Pray.” It’s when you post a sign in front of a home and pray someone buys it. We’re big believers in the power of prayer, but we also believe in marketing and hard work.

Ask to see your agent’s marketing plan for your home. Make sure you understand why they choose some venues instead of others. They may have a good reason, but that’s something they need to explain to you.

4. Misplaced Priorities

The math is pretty easy when it comes to an agent’s commission: The more expensive the house is, the bigger the commission will be. But that fact should never come into play in the way an agent represents his clients. Is your agent treating you as a “lesser” client just because of the price point of your home? Here’s what to watch for: lack of communication, showing up late for appointments, little patience for answering questions, and even pressure to decrease your asking price without giving any evidence to support that decision.

5. Nothing’s Happening

Here’s the bottom line: Real estate is a results-based business. If it’s been weeks with no showings, no calls and no interest, it’s time for a “come to Jesus” meeting with your agent. In this meeting, your agent had better have some new ideas for attracting buyers, and they’d better be able to explain how those ideas will help you sell your home. If they don’t, or if they say they will but the problem persists, stop wasting your time with the wrong agent.

What to Do if You Have a Bad Real Estate Agent

If you’ve tried speaking with your agent and they’re just not coming around—or if your agent ignores you entirely—then it’s time to let them go. But you have to be careful and read your contract. Usually, they’ll have you sign an exclusive buyer’s or seller’s agreement that has a defined expiration date.

The first thing to do is speak with the agent’s broker and ask them to let you out of the deal. Brokers don’t want to be known as “terrible” in their communities.

If that doesn’t work, it may be time to get a lawyer involved. But if that’s too expensive or impractical, or if nothing else works, you may just have to wait out the contract. If your agent has any integrity at all, it shouldn’t come to this.

In the meantime, you can start interviewing a replacement, looking for these qualities in an agent.

How to Avoid Hiring a Bad Agent in the First Place

Now that we know the warning signs of a bad real estate agent, let’s talk about how to avoid this whole mess from the beginning.

The awesome thing is that we’ve made it really easy for you. All you need to do is get in touch with one of our RamseyTrusted Endorsed Local Providers or ELPs. These are real estate agents in your area who our team personally finds, vets and coaches to make sure the agent you hire is the best of the best. We wouldn’t endorse them otherwise.

Each agent closes more houses than 90% of the agents in their market. They also must have the heart of a teacher, make sure you understand exactly what’s happening every step of the way, and honor your financial goals first.

Find a RamseyTrusted agent near you today!

Or are you interested in becoming a trusted agent? Learn more here.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Tell a Real Estate Agent You Chose Someone Else?

Unless you’d be violating a signed agreement to work with a real estate agent for a period of time, you can simply call, text or email your agent to let them know you’ve decided to work with someone else. This might feel like a difficult task—especially if the agent has clearly been working hard to help you. But if your agent isn’t serving you with excellence, it’s time to switch agents. You have too much money riding on a home deal to work with an agent you aren’t satisfied with. It’s okay to let them know this. If you did sign an agreement, try explaining why you want to switch agents and see if they’re willing to do the right thing and release you from the contract early.

How Do You Fire a Real Estate Agent?

If you have a bad real estate agent, find a new one! There’s too much money on the line to waste time on a bad agent. Simply contact the agent to explain you no longer wish to work with them. If you signed an agreement to work with the agent for a specific period of time, try explaining why you aren’t satisfied with the relationship. Your agent might be willing to break the agreement early in order to maintain a good reputation in the community. If this is the case, save some form of written documentation that includes the date of the termination. This will help protect you from any possible disputes over a commission after you close on a house.

Ramsey Solutions

About the author

Ramsey Solutions

Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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