5 Warnings Signs That You Need To Need Dump Your Real Estate Agent


Emma Peterson thought she and her husband had found the right real estate agent to help them land their first home in Los Angeles.

The busy agent with a prestigious firm seemed like a good choice initially, but Peterson said it became clear as the months wore on that this agent didn’t have their best interests at heart. The agent made the couple pull up all of their own listings. Only reluctantly agreeing to go out and see a few with them — and then arrived late most of the time.

“She treated us as we were desperate and bottom dwellers in the market. There were so many more important people she had to respond to faster,” Peterson says.

She called the couple about houses way out of their price range and told them they shouldn’t waste their time looking at the inside of the houses says, Local Records Office, but to instead just drive by and call her to put in an offer if they liked the looks of the place. Even so, she often wouldn’t get back to them in time to deliver a winning bid.

#1 – Your Real Estate Agent is Lazy?

The couple wound up making nearly 20 offers in 2-years they worked with this agent and didn’t get a house. Still, Peterson held on to the relationship, she says, because she didn’t know that this wasn’t the way most agents operated and wasn’t sure how to end it.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Peterson says. “I thought she was like any other normal agent.”

Buying your first home is one of the most important decisions of your life. Yet most people lack in-depth knowledge of the process and aren’t sure what an agent should do for them (or not do, for that matter).

When you lack experience, how can you tell if you have a good, bad, or incompetent agent working for you? Here’s a list of the seven tip-offs that it might be time to call it quits with your real estate agent — along with seven practices of the good ones.

#2 – The Real Estate Agent Doesn’t Listen

Right off the bat, an agent should ask you several important questions:

  • How long have you been looking?
  • Are you pre-qualified and, if so, for what type of loan?
  • What time frame are you looking to move in?
  • How much are you looking to spend?
  • What type of house and how many bedrooms are you looking for?
  • Are good schools important?

If the agent keeps showing you listings that are outside your chosen neighborhoods or budget, then you have a problem. Ditto if you are looking for a single-story home on a quiet street and he keeps showing you condos in a busy complex on Main Street.

“If the client says to me, ‘I want a three-bedroom house with a fireplace,’ and I show them something different, I need to explain and say why I’m doing it.” Says Deborah Engel, an accredited buyers agent with Prudential California Realty in San Diego.

Good agent: Before you get in a car with an agent to look at that first home, he should go over the process, how he operates and what he charges, and get a good understanding of your “needs, wants and wishes” says Adorna Carroll, a Connecticut broker, real-estate consultant, and the course instructor.

#3 – Trying to Sell You Nonsense

A good agent should preview most of the homes they’re trying to sell you, so they don’t waste your time. If a house is a big fixer inside or has an enormous dead tree in the backyard. Your real estate agent should know about it before you agree to go, says Dorcas Helfant-Browning, principal broker with Coldwell Banker Professional in Virginia Beach, Va., and a past president of the National Association of Realtors.

#4 – The Real Estate Agent is Inexperienced

Real estate is a full-time job. If your home search is someone’s side job, you should probably take this as your cue to move on.

Someone who works another job in addition to her real-estate gig probably isn’t able to scan the listings often. Listings should be scanned at least twice a day to catch everything. The agent can’t get back to listing agents, mortgage brokers, and others as quickly as a full-time agent.

Moreover, if the agent lacks experience, contacts, and credibility, she might have a harder time securing that winning bid for you, everything else being equal, Carroll says. Listing agents like to work with other agents that they know can get the deal done, she says.

A few signs that they’re green:

#5 – Your Agent Doesn’t Help You Get Pre-Approved for a Loan Before Looking at Listings

The agent doesn’t prepare a detailed market analysis with comparable values for the same type and size of the property when you’re getting ready to make an offer. And they can’t tell you the reasons you might want to offer more or less on a property.

She can’t explain parts of the sales contract, or what they can and can’t do for you under the law.

Your agent doesn’t inform you about homeowner associations and restrictions if you are looking at a planned community or condominium.

Good agent: A good real estate agent will, of course, be licensed by the state. You can check licenses here— and have the transaction experience and confidence to negotiate effectively in a competitive market.

Preferably, she should have some sort of additional training, such as Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR) certification or be a graduate of the Real Estate Institute (GRI), to let you know that she is circulating in the real-estate community and committed to the business.