Buying and selling property is complex, time-consuming, often time-sensitive, and expensive. Dealing in any real estate, be it a single-family home, upscale condo, or office space, will be a significant financial transaction, maybe even the biggest one of your life.
You need a realtor who will support you while keeping your best interest in mind. There are plenty of horror stories about bad realtors and how they make the experience hell for many home investors and sellers. Read ahead to learn about all the red flags in a bad realtor.
Remember, moving on from a lousy realtor is okay if your gut says so!
Here are 20 warning signs of a bad realtor
Table of Contents
1. Lack of communication
“I think for any relationship to be successful, there needs to be loving communication, appreciation, and understanding.” — Miranda Kerr.
Your realtor shouldn’t be stingy about communication. They should be open and transparent with you before, during, and even after the transaction. Overdoing communication in a real estate deal with many legalities and questions is impossible. Plus, so many lines of communication (via emails, texts, or scheduled calls) today that your agent should communicate with you proactively.
Here are tell-tale signs to spot a lousy communicator in your realtor:
- The realtor takes more than one business day to reply to your inquiries: Quick and clear communication is critical to a successful real-estate deal. Most reliable agents will get back to you within an hour. They update you with progress reports and helpful advice within a reasonable time frame.
- The realtor often sugarcoats situations and tells you what they think would make you happy (even if it is a lie): Honesty is the base of any successful relationship. Some realtors may sugarcoat the situation and keep you in the dark until it’s too late!
- The realtor makes you feel alone: Any real estate transaction involves many complex and tedious steps. Navigating the market without expert help and advice is challenging. With the support of an excellent realtor, you can feel safe and confident and gain great deals.
- They are often in a hurry, rude, or irritated with your questions: A good realtor will be open to all your questions (at reasonable hours) and help you understand every step without getting irritated or upset. Quick communication is vital for a successful transaction in a hot real estate market.
- The realtor is consistently late to open houses, scheduled meetings, appraisals, etc.: A good realtor supports the client every step of the way. Being on time and vigilant about all planned appointments, open houses, inspections, etc., should be the realtor’s top priority. If they are always late or seem uninterested even if they are present- it’s time to move on!
- Potential buyers or sellers have complained about the lack of communication by your realtor. Your realtor should have a clear line of communication with you and your prospective clients. If you are trying to sell a house, the realtor must keep in touch with potential buyers and the buyer’s agent. If you are on the other side of a deal and want to buy a house, your realtor should be able to connect you to nearby sellers.
- The realtor has yet to ask you about your preferred mode of communication. Or doesn’t follow through with quick replies: An excellent realtor will know your preferred means of communication. They’ll send updates even if progress is still being made. You must share good chemistry, which means there is an easy flow of information between the two.
- The realtor has yet to ask you any relevant questions: Property deals are a two-way street. You should not feel like you are the only one doing all the talking. It is a big red flag if the realtor has failed to ask relevant and essential questions about your property needs!
2. Lack of Confidence
Investing in residential or commercial property can be an intense experience because of the complex steps, laws, and challenges involved. You need someone who understands real estate terms and laws and can advocate your interests backed with solid research and negotiating skills.
You need a well-trained and confident realtor.
They should know the local market well and have the confidence and communication skills to interact with your potential clients. If your realtor lacks self-confidence, how will they represent you in the market? Asking the right interview questions can help you find the best realtor for your needs (in both the buyers’ and sellers’ markets).
Here are a few questions you must ask the realtor before you start your professional relationship:
- How long have they been in the real-estate business? The realtor should know the local market well and be able to protect your money throughout the process.
- How do they communicate with clients? Most professional realtors will reply within 1 or 2 business days. Ask how the realtor will stay connected with you and your buyer or seller, home inspection officers, etc. Establish a clear line of communication that suits everyone involved. Either via email, text, or weekly scheduled calls.
- Are they full-time or part-time realtors? A full-time realtor will have more confidence and knowledge about the real estate market, whereas a part-timer may need more focus and attention to detail.
Sometimes you need a solid voice to have the upper hand on the negotiation table. Your realtor will represent you in the real estate market and negotiate on your behalf. Make sure you don’t hire someone just because they are your friend or family member, and you feel bad for them- it will cost you later!
3. Lack of negotiation skills
The ideal realtor should have powerful negotiating skills and be a confident communicator. They must be able to represent your needs and expectations accurately. Negotiating skills are required for both the listing and buyer’s agent for all parties to have a positive experience.
Here’s how you know that your agent is a good negotiator:
- The realtor can handle inspections and structural issues: Home inspections are critical as major structural defects pointed out by the inspector can often lead to problems during negotiation. Who pays for what?– becomes the most significant pain point during this process. If your agent does not know these issues, they will likely give in, resulting in significant losses. The listing agent and the buyer’s agent must be able to work together to bring you the best deal possible.
- The realtor makes the process seamless for you: A professional realtor will screen potential lenders, investigate your buyer’s pre-approval, and connect with the buyer’s agent before getting you into the picture. Buying or selling property can be overwhelming if the realtor fails to vet offers beforehand.
- The realtor does not depend on aggression to negotiate: Being aggressive is not a sign of a good negotiator. If the realtor is rude and abrasive with potential lenders, home inspectors, and clients, you must reevaluate your choice before losing out on the perfect deal.
- The realtor knows their way around a contract: A real-estate contract is legally binding. Your realtor should understand the terms and conditions of the contract, such as the closing price, purchase price, and any buyer contingencies. A talented realtor knows when and how to negotiate to bring you the best and fair contract for your real-estate deal.
The biggest red flag of a lousy negotiator is when you seem to have many potential inquiries but no sale price in sight. This means the realtor could not negotiate the right price for your property. If you have put in multiple offers as a buyer and are yet to hear from any seller- reevaluate your realtor’s skills.
The best way to ensure you have found a good realtor is to check online reviews or meet with previous clients. A successful real-estate deal largely depends on the negotiating phase. You can lose a lot if your realtor is a lousy negotiator!
4. Lack of marketing skills
It is the digital era. Your realtor must have a solid online presence and superb marketing skills. If not- you are in trouble! A fine-tuned real-estate marketing strategy will bring in offers much faster than just a ‘FOR SALE’ sign in the front yard.
Marketing skills are essential for a seller’s agent. If you are trying to sell your home, ask your realtor to show you the marketing plan and past examples of their work before signing a contract with them.
How to tell if your realtor has a solid online presence?
- The realtor has a professional and well-made website
- The realtor has a strong presence on social media channels like Facebook and Instagram.
- The realtor has listings on Multiple Listing Platforms.
- The realtor has plenty of positive online reviews.
The digital space is highly competitive and crowded. There are many ways to fake your presence online by buying bot followers and fake likes. If your realtor has a genuine online presence- they will post often, have relevant comments on their posts, and have multiple people share their stories.
Some old-school realtors hate the online world and depend on traditional marketing styles. But this is a great disservice to you. Without a great online marketing strategy, you will be stuck with a limited buyers pool, thus reducing your chances of scoring the deal of a lifetime.
A solid real estate marketing plan will include
- Professional-grade photographs of the inside and outside of your home (done with professional equipment and settings and not just on the iPhone)
- Multiple social media posts with excellent copywriting to entice your potential buyer
- Professional brochures, emailers, and flyers
- Well-planned open houses and events organized by the realtor
- Professional home staging services to create a buyer-neutral look
Before signing a contract with your realtor, check out their website and social media handles. You can type their name in Google to see what comes up. Ask them upfront about their marketing tactics and how they will showcase your home to potential buyers!
5. Lack of Leadership
A leader knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. —John Maxwell
A good realtor possesses many skills, hours of training and an empathic ear for their clients. Your realtor should act as your guide, financial advisor, and friend during the complex buying or selling process.
Here are signs that your realtor has excellent leadership qualities.
- The realtor produces research to back their pricing decisions.
- The realtor provides well-reasoned advice and support.
- The realtor respects your opinions without becoming a ‘yes man’.
If your realtor depends on you for every decision, such as the pricing of your home- they may lack the ability to lead. A good realtor researches the local market, studies comps, and uses their experience to make a logical decision.
6. Lack of Commitment
Professional realtors know that their job does not end on possession day. The home possession day is considered the end of the transaction, and at this time, you pay the realtor a hefty commission.
But a good realtor contacts his client even after receiving the commission cheque. They will address any follow-up questions related to the property and ensure you are happy with your new home! After all, it is also their responsibility to ensure their clients are happy and secure.
7. Lack of patience
If your realtor is trying to rush the process or makes you feel dumb about specific questions- it’s time to move on!
A real-estate deal involves a lot of money. You should feel entirely sure and confident about the deal. According to Forbes magazine, the number one indication of a lousy realtor is that they try to rush their clients through the buying or selling process. If you feel your realtor is trying to push you in a specific direction but fails to answer your questions or gets irritated, you may be stuck with an evil and selfish realtor.
A good realtor lends an empathetic ear to their clients and understands why they ask so many questions. This is especially true of first-time real estate dealers. Whether you are buying a home, selling a house, or looking to rent a condo, your realtor must answer all your relevant questions without losing their cool. Patience is a virtue you want in your realtor!
8. Not Proactive but reactive
“Being proactive helps you have the upper hand during negotiations because you are well prepared”– BORDAS and BORDAS.
A proactive realtor prepares for home inspections, negotiations, and contingencies. Whereas a reactive realtor will wait for things to happen before they decide on their reaction- this can lead to a delayed response, and you might lose the upper hand during negotiations.
If you notice that your realtor is often unprepared and caught by surprise during negotiations- it is better to move on quickly. If you notice them running around all the time and looking super busy, it could be a sign of bad time management instead of proactiveness.
The real estate market is highly competitive and fast-paced. You need a realtor who is proactive in bringing you the best deals. Connect with ex-clients to get a better picture of your realtor before it’s too late.
9. Realtor is Too Pushy.
Your realtor should be on your side. They should not act simply in their interest. Remember, your realtor will earn a hefty commission at the end of your transaction, and bad realtors can push you to make a decision you may regret later. This is especially true for buyers, as you have to live in the house and pay the mortgage for the next twenty years of your life!
Here are a few red flags you need to watch out for
- Your realtor pushes you to make an offer or counter-offer you are not entirely sure about
- The realtor pushes you toward a direction you are not comfortable with
- The realtor pushes you to make an offer even if you are not ready
- The realtor seems to be only motivated by the potential to earn a huge commission
- The realtor pushes you towards properties listed by them (this will produce an additional brokerage commission for the realtor)
- The realtor is not entirely honest with you about their conflict of interest
- The realtor gets aggressive when you disagree
A good realtor supports their client with expertise and experience. They provide enough research to help you choose the best deal. Remember, your realtor should guide you, not push you to make a hurried decision that only works out in their favor.
10. Not Available on Time
Time is money!
In a hot market, homes can fly off the MLS within hours of getting listed. As a buyer, you need someone available quickly and reliably. As a seller, having a realtor who respects your time is all the more critical.
It can cost you dearly if your realtor is always late for home inspections, showings, and negotiations. Take a stance and let your realtor know you do not appreciate their tardiness.
Most showings are done on the weekends because both the buyer and seller are available. Professional real estate agents know that weekends are essential for listings and plan their schedules accordingly. So, if your realtor makes excuses about the weekend, tell them you will move on.
Here are a few red flags to watch out for-
- The realtor is often late or absent during important meetings.
- The realtor is always on vacation and unreachable.
- The realtor is busy with other clients and keeps you waiting.
- The realtor is unable to dedicate time to multiple listings.
11. Lack of professionalism
A professional realtor shows up on time and behaves appropriately and politely with home inspectors, clients, and potential lenders. If your realtor is constantly late to meetings, doesn’t reply to your calls or messages, or is absent during negotiations, it may be best to cut ties immediately.
Here are a few signs of an unprofessional realtor
- The realtor is often late and dressed inappropriately. (You don’t want your realtor to show up at your expensively staged open houses in yoga pants)
- The realtor often ignores your attempts at communication
- The realtor makes inappropriate comments (or behaves rudely with inspectors, contractors, and Lenders)
- The realtor does not have a professional website or business card
- The realtor has no concrete marketing plan or marketing material
- The realtor lacks essential connections in the local market (home-stagers, inspectors, local MLS, and contractors)
If your realtor isn’t working professionally with your best interest in their heart- MOVE ON.
12. Lacks Ethics
When it comes to your realtor, trust your gut. If you feel uncomfortable with your realtor or real estate agent and have a nagging feeling about their behavior, it may be time to reevaluate your choice!
To help real-estate consumers like yourself, The National Association of Realtors has set a strict code of ethics for realtors in the USA to follow.
The code states that:
- The realtor must be truthful about the property’s actual market value and shall not inflate prices to seek your business.
- The realtor will only represent the buyer and seller with both parties’ explicit approval and consent.
- The realtor will not use your financial information for personal gain.
- Additional fees (such as home inspection fees) will be set and not allocated based on any inflated percentage by the realtor.
13. has too many clients
Is your realtor very popular? While this is excellent news for your realtor, it may be a problem for you. Unless your realtor has incredible time-management skills, too many clients on their roster could mean they have no time for you or are struggling to keep up with your needs.
A professional realtor knows how many clients to take on at a time. They provide a high level of professional services to all their clients. If the realtor cannot handle your needs, they should recommend you to a colleague. A greedy agent will take on every client that comes their way so that they have a vast commission channel.
If you feel ignored by your realtor, it is best to move on. Always ask the realtor about their workload before signing a contract or paying any fee to safeguard your interests. Talk to old clients for a clear understanding of how your realtor operates.
14. Lack of experience
A realtor must have the necessary certification and two years of experience with your local real estate market. This is especially important for the seller’s agent. If your realtor lacks experience handling home inspections or filing paperwork, it can seriously affect your selling process.
Along with experience, your realtor must understand complicated real estate terms such as cash flow rate, cash on cash return, closing costs, escrow holder, etc. The realtor must take the time to upskill and keep up with the ever-changing market.
If you are going with a new realtor, make sure they have completed the required hours of training under the State law and have gone above and beyond to understand the local market. Ask for a commission discount if you go with a younger or new agent.
15. Poor listening skills
Your realtor should be as enthusiastic as you. But this doesn’t mean they talk over you, behave aggressively, or seem pushy and desperate for a deal. A good listener knows what questions to ask to understand you better.
Before starting your professional relationship, your realtor must ask specific questions, giving them a more profound sense of what you need and require. If they fail to do so- they are a bad realtor.
Here are some questions your realtor must ask you
- What is the estimated timeline you need for the transaction? (For both buyers and sellers)
- What is your preferred mode of communication and availability to connect?
- What are your expectations from me?
- What budget are you comfortable with for home staging, inspections, and repairs?
- What upgrades and repairs have you done recently to your home?
- What are your expectations from this deal?
It can be a red flag if your realtor has not asked these questions. If you feel communication with your realtor is a one-way street or the conversations never lead to any concrete action, it’s probably best to move on.
A realtor and a real estate agent are not the same. A real estate agent can assist Homeowners, buyers, and renters but should operate under a real estate broker or brokerage company. A real estate agent may lack the expertise and experience of a realtor.
A realtor can work as an agent or broker because they hold a NAR membership and follow the strict ethical guidelines set by the association. A realtor has years of experience and local real estate market knowledge.
What makes a qualified realtor-
- A valid real estate license
- No pending or recent bankruptcy
- No records of unprofessional conducts
Check your Realtors training record, license, and online reviews before you start working with them.
17. Unqualified Realtor
A good realtor has many skills. These include marketing skills, negotiating powers, copywriting skills, and time-management techniques. Plenty of upskilling courses are available for realtors approved by every state’s Real-Estate Commission.
The realtor should know how to market your home to the right people. If you are a buyer, you need a realtor with good negotiating skills to avoid paying thousands of dollars over your offer with no contingencies.
They must also fulfill the required hours of training under state law. For example, in Florida, a realtor must complete 63 hours to qualify. On the other hand, in a State like Texas, a realtor must complete at least 180 hours. If your realtor needs to take the time to upskill or has completed only the bare minimum of training, you may be stuck with a lousy agent.
18. Unfamiliar with the Local market
Three things matter in a real-estate deal. Location, location, and location. It makes sense to hire a realtor who is familiar with your local market so that you can get the best price for your home. Even buyers should look for a local and experienced realtor to find the best home within their budget.
Comparable home sales (a recent home sale in your local area comparable to your property in size, condition, and location) or Comps help sellers understand the correct market value for their property. Buyers can also refer to their local comps to find the right offer. But understanding comps can be tricky and complicated.
You need an experienced realtor who knows the local market well. Sellers benefit from a local realtor because they know the home’s actual market value and will not under-negotiate on your behalf. Buyers, too, benefit from a local realtor who understands a fair and competitive offer.
19. Works only Part-time
Everyone needs a side hustle in this stressful economy, but there may be better choices than a part-time realtor. A part-time realtor will lack the experience and knowledge of a dedicated realtor. On top of that, if their other job is a top priority, you may be left struggling to contact your realtor during critical moments of the process.
How a part-time realtor can cost the seller:
- A part-time realtor can easily make mistakes during the filing process.
- They can under-negotiate on your behalf, costing you thousands of dollars.
How a part-time realtor can cost the buyer:
- You may miss out on hot listings because your realtor was unavailable at the time (In a hot market, you have a tiny window to look at homes listed on MLS before they are off the market)
- The realtor is unavailable during sudden issues arising from the contract, and you will have to fend for yourself.
If you must hire a part-time or new realtor, negotiate on the commission and ask for a lower price!
20. No specific knowledge about the agreements
One of the main reasons to hire a professional realtor is their expertise in the real estate market, including specific knowledge about real-estate contracts. A real estate purchase agreement is drafted by the buyer and accepted, rejected, or negotiated by the seller. Both homeowners and buyers need to understand the terms of the purchase agreement.
The agreement must include closing costs, terms and conditions for termination, date of possession, and contingencies of the buyer. A lousy realtor can cost you your dream home if you are a buyer because they lack the proper knowledge about real-estate agreements.
If you are a seller, an under-informed realtor can cost you thousands of dollars because they didn’t understand the contract correctly. You can also miss out on a better deal because the realtor failed to understand the buyer’s contingencies.
Working with a bad realtor can be a frustrating and costly experience. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, it’s important to choose a realtor who has your best interests in mind and is dedicated to providing you with the highest level of service and expertise. By watching out for the 20 obvious signs of a bad realtor, you can avoid potential problems and ensure a successful real estate transaction. Always do your due diligence and research potential realtors thoroughly before deciding to work with them. Remember, a good realtor is an asset to your home buying or selling experience, so choose wisely!