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What Are The Telltale Signs Of A Bad Real Estate Agent?

By Mike Work · Feb 22, 2016 · Real Estate

What Are The Telltale Signs Of A Bad Real Estate Agent?

Image courtesy of BeSmartee, The Bad Agent

What do you look out for? What are the signs? In this article, we'll explore some common warning signs so that you can find the right professional for the most important transaction of your life.

Since real estate agents are on commission, often they will get conditioned to serve their interests first before the client’s interest. There are certain questions you can ask a real estate agent to see their motivation as to why they’re practicing real estate as a profession.

They’re basic questions and they’re existential. Questions like:

  • Why do you do what you?
  • What is it about your job you like?
  • What makes you the best at what you do?
  • What neighborhood are you in? Why are you an expert at this neighborhood?
  • Do you work with buyers or do you work with sellers?
  • How many sales a year do you make?
  • What happens if you’re slow? What do you do to build your business?

What Kind of Answers Should You Look For? And What Will Those Answers Tell You?

These answers will tell you exactly what’s driving the motivation behind the agent.

The ideal response you would want from an agent is:

“I’m selling real estate because I’m purely in love with my neighborhood. I love houses. I love the business of real estate. I love families. I want to be able to settle a family into a home.”


“Watching me settle family dynamics or whatever issue it is – gives me great pleasure.”

Selling a home is so much more than giving someone the sticks, bricks, and mortar that make up a house. Every time you sell a house, you’re really solving some sort of family situation.

Whether it was the Donner Party a hundred and seventy years ago or the Smiths who just moved in across the street. Each person or family is most likely moving for a reason – it’s not always people trying to grab a piece of the American dream.

The point is that the real estate agent’s REAL job is to make that transition as smooth as it can be.

Think about the Donner Party. Their move was tragic. Imagine this: When they finally arrived in San Jose they found an egotistical, “the clock-is-always-ticking”, selfish realtor in charge of finding them a new place to live. Doesn’t sound like a good fit, does it?

the donner party

The survivors of the Donner Party eventually settled down. Hopefully, they found a kind person that helped them establish a residence.

Here are some other typical reasons people buy or sell a home:

  • A family has another child and they need a bigger house.
  • Somebody dies and the family needs to sell a house.
  • People get divorced and they need to sell a property.

Settling these type of family issues is really what a real estate agent does. To answer the questions above properly, the core questions, you’re going to find out if the agent is there because they love their neighborhood, they love people in it and if they love to help people.

However, if their answer is:

“I’m the best. I have the biggest numbers. I got more signs than anyone else.”

If they continue to talk about themselves, when then obviously you’re going to see that the agent is in it for himself or herself.

The Golden Interview Question You Should Ask Your Realtor

There is a really simple method to interviewing a real estate agent: Ask for the contacts of their three most recent customers. That way, you can ask the past clients openly and honestly about how the experience was with the realtor you’re vetting.

If the real estate agent gets awkward or tries to shy away from the question, then you should eliminate them from your list of possible agents.

Every real estate agent that is really good is going to have those people available instantly, already in advance, as testimonials for their business. A really REALLY good agent will even tell you who they had bad experiences with.


Yep! Because a good agent knows that it’s impossible to have a 100% of their transactions go smooth. It’s just the way life is. Not everyone is going to be absolutely pleased with the experience. Remember, buying and selling homes can happen during very stressful times.

If asked, the good agents are going to give you their enemies and their best clients.

Getting Pressured To Buy or Sell

Commission and agency is a conflict in nature. The fact that the agent’s compensation is created by some action that you may or may not do, leads to a lot of manipulation in the process.

When you have a real estate situation where you’re not exactly clear whether you should buy or sell - it’s perfectly okay for you to get a second opinion without taking on another agent. It might be a trusted advisor, lawyer, or somebody else that has expert knowledge. Get a second opinion from somebody else in the marketplace other than the agent, who is solely compensated by whatever your decision is.

If the agent models their business on being completely transparent and honest, they will promote this kind of thing. However, most real estate agents are a lot like politicians where they will be transparent to a point, usually when it serves them. It’s certainly the right of the consumer to go ahead and get that second opinion.

Often times, issues like these are not exactly black and white. So get the extra information, as it can be helpful when you’re trying to make a decision.

If You’re Selling, Get on the MLS

If any agent takes your listing and doesn’t put it on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), then that’s a huge red flag.

If your house is not on the MLS, you should consider firing your agent. Now, if it’s on the MLS, and it’s been more than two weeks - then you have seen the marketplace.

Whether your house moves or not is beyond your agent’s influence after this point. And if the offer you have is the offer the agent has brought you, then that’s usually the market talking to you.

You might want to wait forever for that perfect buyer, and lock in that perfect price. But again, if it has been longer than two weeks, then the chances of getting that dream price are slim to none.

Other Things To Look Out For

Right now all MLS records are available. You can instantly check the sales records of every agent in your area to see how much business they’re doing. You don’t want the agent that’s too busy. That agent is great at marketing and they usually lack in the customer service department.

Look for the agent who has been in the business for a decent amount of time.

Aim for an agent that has a minimum of two years of experience. Check his or her three most recent references before you decide to make them your agent. Finally, double check with the MLS records to make sure what they told you is true.

About the Author: Mike “Net” Work, Founder and CEO of United Estate Consulting. Securing the American right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, one estate at a time. Feel free to reach out to Mike Work on Twitter: @mikenetworker.

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