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Bad Real Estate Agents

By - 2007

There are good and bad real estate agents, and a whole lot who fall somewhere in the middle. The following is a look at some the things that they often do wrong, and some other negatives to watch for. If you see enough things on this list which your own agent has done, you know you have a bad one. If you haven't yet hired an agent, study this list and watch for clues in those you consider.


This is not the fault of the agent, but it isn't your job to give him the experience. As a new agent I once pushed hard to get a couple to list their home for $59,000. They insisted on $65,000 and got a full-price offer a few weeks later. I almost cost them $6,000.

Too Busy

Sometimes agents take on more than they can handle. If she has a hundred listings it might be good news for her, but how likely is it that your house gets much attention. Ask how many listings an agent has, and what steps will be taken to market your home.

No Prices in Ads

People often think that omitting prices from advertising is some kind of strategy for selling the house advertised. It isn't. Many people, including myself, just skip over those homes, since there are more than enough homes to look at which show the price. How does missing out on all these potential customers help sell your house? It doesn't. The point is to get those few who are curious about that particular house to call so they can be sold some house. In other words, it is a prospecting tool for the agent. He uses your home as bait, and when the caller finds out that yours is priced too high, he is directed to other homes. Meanwhile the buyers who didn't call because of a lack of a price never get to hear about yours. Avoid agents who do this or tell them that you want the price in every ad for your house.


They don't return your calls, or they lose paperwork? Get a new agent. The logistics of putting together and closing a sale without major problems requires organizational skills.

Looking for Easy Fast Sales

Many bad real estate agents are looking for the easy sale and the fast sale. The more houses they sell in a year the more they make, after all. In their book Freakonomics ,Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner looked at the data from 100,000 home sales in the suburban Chicago area and found that 3,000 of them were owned by real estate agents. Controlling for variables like the age of the house, its location, an whether it was a residence of the owner or investment, they compared sales prices. What they found was that when agents sold their own homes, as opposed to selling yours, they took an extra ten days to do so on average. They also sold their own homes for an average of 3% more.

You see, when your $300,000 home sells for 3% less, it costs you $9,000. But what about the agent?If he splits a 6% commission with his broker (typical), and prior to that it is split with the selling agent and his broker (also typical), his loss of commission on that $9,000 discount is only $135. He might prefer to push to to accept, take his $4,365 cut, and move on to the next listing. He'll spend more time and more than that $135 trying to find another buyer anyhow.

All agents are perhaps unconsciously aware that faster is better for them, and that may influence them, but watch out for the ones that seem especially anxious to get you house sold at any price.

Those are a few of the things to watch for to avoid bad real estate agents. But trust your intuition as well. You might have to deal with this person for months.

Related page:

How to Sell a House

Houses Under Fifty Thousand | Bad Real Estate Agents