Break Up With Your Real Estate Agent

CityLifeStyle Real Estate Break Up WIth Your Real Estate Agent

Signs You Need to Break Up
With Your Real Estate Agent

Jill Kras­ny | MAIN STREET

Signs You Need to Break Up With Your Real Estate AgentIt’s unfor­tu­nate when buy­ers and sell­ers get sad­dled with a self-involved agent who comes off as too busy to care, too arro­gant to lis­ten or too eager to coerce you into pur­chas­ing a home that you’re just not that into. Much like a quar­ter­back com­pet­ing in the sea­son of a life­time, buy­ers and sell­ers depend on their real estate agents to car­ry them to the play­offs, help­ing them reap the invest­ment they’re after, or put their hard-earned cash toward the starter home of their dreams. In today’s depressed mar­ket, it isn’t enough for an agent to be well-qual­i­fied — he or she has to be a cre­ative prob­lem-solver and resource­ful to boot.

Buy­ers and sell­ers are spend­ing real dol­lars on this invest­ment, and any­thing that falls through the cracks — includ­ing the all-impor­tant loan — can cost them dear­ly. If your agent seems dis­or­ga­nized, unpro­fes­sion­al or just makes you queasy, read on. Here are eight ways to tell if it’s time to put your house hunt on hold and shop for a new real­tor instead.

Your Agent Is Unresponsive

Your Agent Is UnresponsiveWhile you shouldn’t expect your agent to be on call 247, he or she should respond to your voice­mail and texts in a time­ly fash­ion, says Jen­nifer Allan, a for­mer real­tor in the Den­ver area and author of Sell with Soul. Espe­cial­ly at the begin­ning, when this is all new, you want to be in touch every sin­gle day to make sure the home sell­er has seen the list­ing and approved it,” Allan says. If you get some­thing wrong, the sell­er could be held liable, and you want to be in touch to find out if there’s any­thing the sell­er needs to tweak.” Hav­ing an ongo­ing con­ver­sa­tion with your agent, Allan adds, could mean the dif­fer­ence between sell­ing with­in the ide­al time frame of five to sev­en months, or leav­ing it to lan­guish on the mar­ket. Anoth­er sign you might have a dud of an agent on your hands is when he or she signs up for busi­ness, then imme­di­ate­ly goes on vaca­tion, says Ilyce Glink, a for­mer real­tor and author of Buy, Close, Move in!: How to Nav­i­gate the New World of Real Estate — Safe­ly and Prof­itably — and End Up with the Home of Your Dreams. Every­one deserves time off,” she says, but an extend­ed vaca­tion, or not shar­ing vaca­tion plans with the client and how they plan to stay on top of your list­ing while they’re away is just out of line.”

Your Agent Doesn’t Listen

Your Agent Doesn’t ListenThe very first meet­ing with your agent should feel like a coun­sel­ing ses­sion. You should feel con­fi­dent your agent is along for the ride and has your best inter­ests at heart. You’ll know your agent’s on the right track, says Allan, when he or she asks these thought­ful ques­tions : What’s your time frame to buy or sell ? Tell me about your dream house/​the house you’re sell­ing. What improve­ments have you made to your home ? What are your expec­ta­tions for me ? And how often should we be in touch ? Have you worked with a real­tor before ? What was the expe­ri­ence like ? What kind of neigh­bor­hoods are you inter­est­ed in ? The rela­tion­ship real­ly is a con­ver­sa­tion,” Allan stress­es. Sell­ing real estate isn’t a sales job, it’s much more of a man­age­ment, cus­tomer-ser­vice job. You want some­one with the heart of an advis­er,” not some­one who acts like a used car sales­man. With this in mind, dump any agent who wants to know how moti­vat­ed you are (insult­ing) or who trots out the dog and pony show.” Dis­cussing work process­es and the mar­ket are impor­tant, but patient­ly assess­ing your wants and needs will help your agent deter­mine whether you’re on the same page and can work well togeth­er.

Your Agent Is Inexperienced

Your Agent Is InexperiencedFind­ing a full-time agent is a must in today’s bat­tered mar­ket, our experts insist. That’s huge,” says Allan, adding that she would nev­er hire some­one who was work­ing a dif­fer­ent day job. You want it to be their career.” Ensure your agent is up to snuff by mak­ing sure he or she has at least two years’ expe­ri­ence and by doing your home­work, says Glink. Here’s what she recommends:Ask to look at the agents’ resume. Are the bro­kers he or she has worked for rep­utable ? Get in touch with the last five or 10 peo­ple your agent sold prop­er­ty for and ask how it went. Would they hire this agent again ? Google the realtor’s name with the word com­plaint” next to it. Bad reviews should send up red flags. Check the agent’s state license. Is it active ? Ver­i­fy that he or she’s a mem­ber of the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Real­tors. You want some­one who’s well-edu­cat­ed, up to date on cur­rent issues and who has a sol­id idea of pro­fes­sion­al con­duct and ethics. Check for addi­tion­al train­ing, like the Accred­it­ed Busi­ness Rep­re­sen­ta­tive cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, or that the agent grad­u­at­ed from the Real Estate Insti­tute (GRI). Search Engine Opti­miza­tion train­ing, E-list­ings and oth­er fan­cy add-ons might sound nice to have, but are typ­i­cal­ly mon­ey-mak­ing schemes that won’t aid in your search. On top of all this, don’t be tempt­ed to hire the mega-star top pro­duc­er” real­tor, says Allan. A lot of times they’re just machines snap­ping up every list­ing they can get and over­pric­ing them so they don’t sell.”

Your Agent Is Unprofessional

Your Agent Is UnprofessionalAct­ing dis­or­ga­nized or can­cel­ing and show­ing up late to appoint­ments is unpro­fes­sion­al and sends the wrong mes­sage to every­one involved, says Glink. If, as an agent, you’ve bro­ken the pro­fes­sion­al trust, when you approach the sell­er with advice or feed­back about some­thing they’re doing to impede show­ings or offers, the seller’s going to be too mad at his agent to lis­ten,” warns Allan. Anoth­er tip-off it’s time to ditch your agent is when you find your­self work­ing a lit­tle too close­ly with the agent’s assis­tant, instead of the agent his or her­self, says Glink. The agent should lay out clear­ly for the sell­er what the expec­ta­tions should be,” she says. Oth­er­wise, it’s just not good busi­ness behav­ior.”

Your Agent Makes You Uncomfortable

Your Agent Makes You UncomfortableIf your agent’s lat­est pitch has you squirm­ing uncom­fort­ably in your seat, move on. Any buy­er [or sell­er] who is work­ing with an agent should feel very com­fort­able with that agent,” says Dor­cas Helfant, a real­tor and for­mer pres­i­dent of the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Real­tors. A good agent will pre­pare you for the process and pay atten­tion to details.” So while some might pre­fer to work with some­one more brusque and con­fronta­tion­al, poor social skills across the board are a turn-off to buy­ers and sell­ers, which could cost you the sale or a show­ing. Watch out for these tell-tale signs : You’re lin­ger­ing too long at show­ings, or view­ing homes you don’t even like. A good agent should take that as a sign to make a quick, gra­cious exit,” notes Helfant. Your agent doesn’t sug­gest that you try some­thing dif­fer­ent when things aren’t work­ing. The agent has to observe you and take a chance,” Helfant says, even if that means look­ing at some­thing you [ini­tial­ly] didn’t want.” Your agent tries to talk you out of what you do want, mak­ing crit­i­cal com­ments that you ought to aim low­er. She makes you feel bad for spend­ing less, or push­es you to make an offer before you’re ready. She puts down your home before show­ings.

Your Agent Makes a Bad Impression

Your Agent Makes a Bad ImpressionWith most buy­ers going online to shop for homes, mak­ing a great first impres­sion is cru­cial in these chal­leng­ing times. A good agent, says Jen­nifer Chiong­bian, a Man­hat­tan-based real­tor, will help the sell­er hire a pro­fes­sion­al stager, and/​or an inte­ri­or dec­o­ra­tor for show­ings, while cre­at­ing an appeal­ing, well-writ­ten and hon­est Web list­ing. Over promis­ing is a bad sign, says Allan. Peo­ple will come look and be dis­ap­point­ed, and then they won’t buy.” Anoth­er thing to watch out for with list­ings are pho­tos, warns Allan. Any­thing out of sea­son or smack­ing of the realtor’s own hand­i­work (read : not shot by a pro­fes­sion­al pho­tog­ra­ph­er), is a tip-off you need to give your agent the boot.

Your Agent Doesn’t Do the Homework

Your Agent Doesn’t Do the HomeworkTight-fist­ed lenders have paved a rocky road for anx­ious home buy­ers in the post-reces­sion, which is why it’s so impor­tant for buy­ers to have a finan­cial ally in their agent. When you’re prepar­ing to sell your home, says Glink, if your agent fails to do a Com­par­a­tive Mar­ket Analy­sis — a process in which the agent tours your home, looks at homes sim­i­lar to yours that have sold in the past three to six months, then sug­gests an ask­ing price — kiss him or her good­bye. He needs to get a real­is­tic, sol­id pic­ture of val­ue in your neigh­bor­hood,” she says, so you know what your home is tru­ly worth. Also, says Helfant, agents should be cre­ative prob­lem-solvers who are will­ing to help their clients fig­ure out if their finan­cials are lack­ing. If your credit’s in the dump, an agent should refer you to a cred­it coun­selor, or tell you what you can do to improve your chances of get­ting a loan. If you’re sim­ply not ready to shop for a home, a good agent will wait things out and stay in touch by email­ing you updates to show your busi­ness still mat­ters. You either qual­i­fy or you don’t, and some­times life changes,” Helfant says. A good agent bounces with that change.”

Your Agent Is Shady

Re ShadyFlip-flop­ping on bro­ker fees or dis­clos­ing per­son­al issues are sig­nif­i­cant signs of trou­ble. Have zero tol­er­ance for this kind of fraud­u­lent behav­ior, say our experts, not only because it puts your home at risk, but because it puts your rep­u­ta­tion on the line as well. Among oth­er shady moves, Dor­cas advis­es sell­ers and buy­ers to watch out for poor­ly writ­ten con­tracts — which cost time and ener­gy to be rewrit­ten — a lack of pro­fes­sion­al due dili­gence, like not rec­om­mend­ing a home inspec­tion be made by a rep­utable inspec­tor, or fail­ing to sug­gest that the buy­er pur­chase home insur­ance on a resale home, and mak­ing out­ra­geous claims they can­not back up. Lying about bids or with­hold­ing infor­ma­tion about a crack in the foun­da­tion, for exam­ple, are patent­ly uneth­i­cal behav­iors and signs you need to have a seri­ous one-on-one with your bro­ker in order to deal with the prob­lem.