Wouldn’t it be nice if there were signs of a bad real estate agent like warning labels so that you could spot them easily like expired milk or a pack of cigarettes?
While consumers looking for a home service professionals have access to sites like HomeStars where they can source consumer reviews at a glance, there’s no equivalent resource (yet) of the same reach and scope for real estate agents – and that’s left the consumer relying on their wits, their friends or the Internet to find a great agent to sell their Toronto home.
But what happens if all of these fail you and you’re stuck with a dud? Does not returning calls promptly or screwing up paperwork really matter all that much? Firstly, we’re glad you asked. And secondly, yes it does.
1. They’ve overvalued your home
We call this one the old price switcheroo. One of the biggest signs of a bad real estate agent is that they will lure you in by saying they can get a far higher price for your home than comparable homes recently sold in your neighbourhood. An unscrupulous agent uses this tactic to get new listings and the buyer leads that come along with it knowing full well that they’ve inflated your home’s market value to win your listing and that the chance of it selling anywhere near to that price are slim to none. After a few weeks or months of your home sitting on the market and getting stale to buyers, they’ll come to you and suggest you lower your price to sell (which was part of their master plan all along).
The result? You lose time while your house sits on the market, you lose patience having to keep your house clean for weeks (or even months) of showings and you lose valuable momentum as your house gets passed over for newer listings.
2. Their real estate marketing is lacklustre…or non-existent
It’s shocking to us how often we still see agents taking listing pictures with their cell phones. This is one of the worst stand out signs of a bad real estate agent. Why are professional images so important? Because 42 percent of buyers start their home search online and 89 percent use images to help them decide if they want to arrange a viewing. Without them, even the most beautiful home looks dull, dark, small and uninspired. The type of agent who takes cell phone pictures is often the same agent who thinks sticking a sign in your lawn is a full marketing plan. If your agent can’t show you a marketing plan with specific tactics and samples, they probably don’t have a plan to begin with and don’t know how to make your house stand out.
The result? Your house gets less exposure and fewer showings which means a longer time on the market and…guess what…a lower selling price.
3. They don’t have enough real estate experience
Sure, it may sound great that your aunt just got her real estate license or that your best friend’s sister really wants your business after being licensed for only a year, but is that really what’s best for you and your home sale? We’ve come across many newbie listing agents who haven’t sold more than a couple of properties in their short time as an agent. Or even worse, they’ve been in the business for years but have only done a few deals. A newbie/inexperienced agent won’t have an established database yet and you’ll miss out on taking advantage of their solid relationships. They’re also much more likely to miss gaping issues in offers and lacks negotiation experience. Pair that with the fact they tend to be more desperate for commission, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Finally, the inexperienced agent won’t be able to anticipate common issues encountered during a home sale, which means you can enjoy the stress of experiencing their oversights together!
The result? More stress for you, many potential headaches that could be costly and crucial details being overlooked.
4. They’re super aggressive and/or pushy
Sometimes it’s easy to be impressed by an aggressive agent since you assume that means they’ll be a pit bull during negotiations. However, when that aggression is used to pressure you into decisions that make you uncomfortable or that are not in your best interest, things could get messy, fast. We’ve heard more than one story of a seller who was pressured into selling their home for less than it was worth by a bully agent who cajoled them until they gave in, creating a huge amount of stress for the seller and all because their listing agent wanted a fast commission.
The result? Making decisions under pressure that are not in your best interest, underselling your home and heightened stress.
5. They encourage double dipping
Yes, sadly there are two timers in the real estate business. They might not break your heart, but they could compromise the integrity of the deal. If your listing agent encourages multiple representation a.k.a where they personally represent you and the buyer, run don’t walk in the other direction. Even the most honest agent will be faced with a conflict of interest when it comes to offers. They’ll be representing you – the seller who is looking for the highest price – while representing the buyer who will want to pay the lowest price. Why? So, they can double end the deal and get significantly more commission. You can see how this is problematic!
The result? A conflict of interest and no one looking out for what’s best for you as the seller.
6. Disappearing Real Estate Agents
One of the biggest signs of a bad real estate agent we hear the most from sellers in the past is that once their house is listed their agent gets less and less communicative, sometimes disappearing altogether if their home doesn’t sell within a certain period. With today’s technology, it’s pretty much impossible for someone to be unavailable. The worst-case scenario is they just aren’t that into you, but it’s more likely they’ve spread themselves too thin or they’re avoiding an awkward conversation about why they haven’t got your property sold yet.
The result? Frustration as your calls go unanswered, a lack of timely and up-to-date strategies to get your property sold and frustrated buyers agents who likely can’t get ahold of your agent either.
The Bottom line
So, what does choosing the wrong agent really mean for your bottom line? It’s far more than feeling overwhelmed with stress and frustration. Choosing the wrong agent, and not taking active steps to end the relationship and move on to someone better, will cost you money and time, potential legal issues and most definitely your sanity.
Remember, listing agreements are with you and your agent’s brokerage, not your agent. If you’re unhappy, call your agent’s broker of record, get a cancellation agreement signed and re-group with an awesome agent who values your time and your awesome property.