Most people will only use a handful of real estate agents in their life so take your time and make the right choice.
Many buyers and sellers don't give enough thought to the kind of real estate agent they choose to handle one of the biggest transactions of their life. Pulling back the curtain and seeing through the hype is essential if you want to accurately assess an agent’s potential success with your home.
Here are seven red flags to watch for when choosing a real estate agent:
1. They are afraid to give you a list of their past clients as references
Before hiring an agent, ask him/her to provide you a list of past clients or customers in recent months or years. If you’re a seller, you want to find out whether the previous client’s selling price was a close reflection of the asking price, as well as how long the property sat before the deal was finally done. If you’re a buyer, you want to know whether the overall satisfaction level the new homeowners feel during and after the transaction with the agent. If having unhappy customers in the past is a trend for the agent, then you better think twice before getting him/her to transact on your behalf.
2. They are unlicensed or involved with an illegal brokerage operation
Don’t be part of the statistics where people have seen their sizeable investment went kaput because they dealt with unlicensed real estate agents or brokers running an illegal operation. Unscrupulous agents who do not bother to be officially licensed in what the state law requires can cause serious harm to your property and even bring you to financial ruin. Your legal remedies in the future may also be limited if you choose to deal with someone who is operating under the radar so don’t take that risk.
3. They overvalue your property
Watch out for agents who come with tall tales about they were able to sell the home for some enormous fee. You’d be star struck at first but may end up with the lowest imaginable offer which you’ll be too polite to decline. A good agent should be able to provide you with at least several comparable homes in the area that have been sold recently and come up with a reasonable price value for your home. Moreover, it would be doubly impressive if the agent will make suggestions for upgrades or quick improvements that can increase your home value.
4. They have a questionable or controversial commission rate
Three things to look out for – agents who sets outrageously high commissions, agents who agrees to taking a considerable cut on their pay, and agents who says their commission isn’t set in stone.
The first is a no-brainer because you can see at first glance that they only care more about what they can profit from the deal rather than how you’ll be satisfied with the overall experience of buying/selling your property.
The second one is a sign of desperation because either you must be the first client he/she has had in recent years or that his/her knowledge, experience and ability really do not add up much.
The third one, most likely, is working for a dual agency which allows him/her to represent both parties – the seller and the buyer. There really is conflict of interest here; surprisingly, this eyebrow-raising practice is actually legal in most states.
5. They do not reveal the property disclosure
Don’t want your dream home to turn into a real nightmare? Then ask your agent to specifically tell you about its status – the good, the bad, and the worst. If he/she can’t give you straightforward answers especially if the house really has foundation issues, structural defects, sewage or plumbing problems, infestations, leaks and such, it’s time to move on to your next agent candidate.
6. They do not really have a local knowledge
Beware of agents who do not have recent sales experience and success in the neighborhood. A responsible agent is someone who has regular communication with local homeowners and is knowledgeable about the price value of homes from block to block within the area. If this is not the case, you likely will not be able to close the deal much sooner.
7. They are not client motivated
Buying and selling a house can be a stressful experience and if the agent does not do anything to support you through the process and make you happy, then beware. If he/she does not stay in constant contact, does not keep you well-informed of crucial details you need to know about the property, and is not sensitive about your timeframe, it’s a big red flag you have to watch for.