Buying a home is the most expensive purchase most people ever make. It stands to reason that you would like to know that your agent is doing their best for you. Here are 10 red flags that tell you they’re not.
1. “Well I had some clients before, but they were all jerks.”
Beware of an agent who trash talks *everyone* they’ve ever represented. It’s kind of like the people who have had a string of “crazy ex’s”. Eventually it might become obvious to you that you’re going to be the next “jerk” that they complain about to their next client. You also have to wonder what they are doing in this profession if they aren’t enjoying many of the people they work with. Even if the agent’s previous clients *were* all jerks, it hardly makes them look good to be bad-mouthing them to other clients who will then wonder if they’re going to get the same treatment.
2. “Sorry I haven’t gotten back to you in the past week; things have been crazy.”
How long does it take to dash off a short email telling clients what’s going on with their house hunt? Is a 5 minute phone call that lets the clients know that things are rolling ahead (or that there’s an issue that needs addressing) really that hard? There’s nothing wrong with an agent who sets specific times to send and return calls, emails, faxes, etc., but an agent who doesn’t set expectations and then meet them is not likely to be doing their best for you.
3. “Um, well that’s not exactly legal… But don’t ask, don’t tell, right?”
Agents that engage in illicit activities, whether or not they benefit you, are not people you want to deal with. First, it’s unethical. Second, it could land both the deal and you in hot water. At best, you might not close on the home. At worse, you could be implicated in the crime that the agent committed on your behalf.
4. “I don’t really like to advise clients. You should do your own research.” OR “I dunno.”
An agent who doesn’t answer questions or give advice to their clients is not doing their best. While an agent may suggest that you find out as much as you can concerning home purchases and what you’re looking for in a home, they should also be happy to share what they know with you. They should have nothing to hide about the house hunting procedure or what to look for in a home. Sometimes an agent will not know the answer to your question and that’s OK. What’s not is a flat statement of not knowing and nothing further. The right answer is, “I don’t have enough information to give you a good answer, but I’ll see what I can find out for you.”
5. “Use this guy. I only work with him for lending/home inspections/etc..”
Agents that insist that you use a particular affiliate are probably getting a cut of the fee you pay the other guy. This doesn’t say much for their integrity and you are not required to use anyone that the agent ‘strongly recommends’. You should use the professionals that you are comfortable with. An agent can certainly recommend people who will provide good service, but should not insist on them.
6. “Well, it’s been fun, but I have to go to my job at 7-11 now.”
Nothing against the people at 7-11, but your real estate agent needs to have their priorities in line with yours. An agent who depends on real estate for their living is going to be a lot more committed to you and your goals. One whose income is mainly derived from another line of work may have priorities that don’t involve you closing on a house.
7. “Oh, that house isn’t listed with my brokerage, which is why it isn’t on our list.”
Your agent should be dedicated to making YOU happy, not the brokerage. Sure it’s icing on the cake if the house you fall in love with happens to be listed with the agent’s brokerage, but this should not be the defining criteria the agent uses to draw up a list of homes for you to look at.
8. “Well, I had a license, but its expired now. But, hey, once you know this stuff, you know it!”
Agents should have up-to-date real estate licenses. The agent could be putting your home purchase in jeopardy by representing you without a valid, current license.
9. “Don’t worry; I’m sure the house is fine. The toilet probably just got clogged.”
Your agent should disclose all problems they have noted about the house, even if it means that you won’t buy it. Your agent needs to be working for you, not to close at the earliest opportunity.
10. “$#&*! @&()! #*(%&*#(!”
Agents should be professionals. Swearing, talking down to you, treating you like an idiot are all signs that you should ditch this agent fast. Professional does not mean that they should be hitting you over the head with the idea that they know more than you about real estate. Even if you are a first-time home buyer, the agent should be treating you like an equal and behaving in a professional manner, towards you, other agents and home sellers.