As a relatively new real estate agent, I’ve spent a lot of time observing the good, the bad and the ugly. As a professional in any field, you’re always looking to learn from the best and adopt their example. There are many good agents out there and you deserve to find a great one. There are also those who could end up costing you precious time and money if you don’t know what to look for. You need to know how to spot them and if necessary, cut your losses before you start throwing good money after bad.
If you’re looking for your first agent, here are some things you should watch out for. If you’re looking for a reason to fire the one you have, here are 10:
- You agent is not listening to you. You say you need to sell your house in three months. Two months has gone by and there has only been one showing and no offers. Your agent keeps saying she thinks you can get this price if you just wait. Meanwhile, your holding costs are sucking you dry, or the moving van is here to take your belongings to the state you’re relocating to, where you can’t buy a new house until you’ve sold this one. Another example: You clearly tell her that you are painting a room and can’t have carpet cleaners come until after noon. She arranges for the carpet people to arrive at 8:00 a.m.
- There are less than 10 photographs on the MLS. Statistics from NAR state that listings with less than 7 photos rarely get viewed. Think about it – 84% of potential buyers start their search for homes on the Web, where photos are key to generating interest. Do you really want to cater to the elite 16% who don’t look on the Internet?
- The agent has not posted your property on the usual popular websites to get it in front of the 84% of buyers who will be looking for it there. In most cases, this is free and only takes minutes. If your agent relies only on print media, you better be talking “luxury” property, or again, only want to cater to the 16% of elites who shun the Internet (see previous point). If this is not the case, your agent is either not Internet-savvy, or just lazy.
- The photos are out of focus, overexposed, crooked or shows the agent’s reflection in a mirror with a big blinding flash going off where his head should be. Then there are the ones made with an ultrawide-angle lens from the wrong angle and is so distorted you can’t tell if it is a bathroom or a recreation room! And let’s not leave out the “so-dark-I’ll-have-to-take-your-word-for it” photo. If you really love everything else about that Realtor and don’t want to fire her, insist that she get a professional to make the photographs. It will be worth every penny and a good Realtor will usually cover this cost.
- The MLS listing has incomplete or incorrect information. Here in Hawaii, we are required to have the seller sign off on the MLS input form. Yes, there are cases where you may want to omit something from the listing, but if you don’t say you have a pool, how will people looking for a pool find your property? “As complete as possible” is the best rule of thumb. If it is easy to show, state that. If it has a lockbox, so much the better! Make sure to ask your agent which fields can be seen by everyone and which are only visible to agents.
- The agent says anything disparaging about your property or family that you haven’t authorized them to say. A seasoned agent once advised me to not say anything I wouldn’t say if the client was standing right beside me. I’ve taken that to heart and used it as a guide on many occasions! Too many agents break this rule when talking to clients or other agents. When you interview agents, ask about past clients. If they start saying things that you wouldn’t want said about you, thank them find another agent.
- The agent doesn’t do what they say they will. If they say that they’ll advertise in 3 magazines and they only advertise in 2, or if they say they’ll post the listing regularly on Craigslist and only do it once, or you have to complain constantly to remind them to, it’s time to find a new agent. If they say that they’ll hold open houses often and hold only 2… you get the idea.
- Your property has been on the market for more than 60 days with only one showing and the agent hasn’t talked to you about a new strategy.
- Your agent hasn’t asked the question, “Are you current with your mortgage payments?”. In these hard times, your agent can be your biggest advocate in knowing what steps to take to avoid foreclosure or bankruptcy. Whether you are current or not, don’t be offended by an agent who asks. A true professional will have a plan for you either way, and be mindful of your welfare throughout the process. An agent who doesn’t ask may proceed under the wrong assumption and end up putting you both in unfortunate circumstances.
- For any reason at all, you find you don’t trust your agent to do their job and represent you and your property in the best light possible. If you’ve signed a listing agreement or a buyer’s agreement, you effectively have a employment agreement with this person. Regardless, most agents, if they’re professionals, will accept your stating that you don’t feel the arrangement is working out, and terminate the contract.