Bad Real Estate Agents
By Steve Gillman - 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
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.
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
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
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
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.
How to Sell a House