If you’ve ever bought or sold a house or worked in any other constellation with a real estate agent, you know that the experience can have a broad spectrum. In a strictly symbolic sense, working with a realtor is a kind of short-lived relationship too. If you’re dealing with a good realtor, everything will go smoothly, leaving no trace, but dealing with a bad one will lead to bitterness and heartbreak. Fortunately, red flags can help you identify a lousy agent and eliminate them as quickly as possible. So, to avoid weeping and gnashing of teeth, it’s best to keep your eyes sharp when hiring an agent, and prevent all the bad outcomes. But if you’ve already hired one, don’t panic, either: it’s not a marriage. If the relationship does not represent your best interest, it may be time to let it go. When should you fire your real estate agent? Is it ethical? Here’s what to consider to make the process less painful and messy!
Bad agent red flags
Good real estate agents know that reputation is everything. So stabbing people in the back is not really an option unless you are a bad real estate agent. The red flags you should look out for, are similar to any other red flag of dishonesty or manipulative behavior.
The prices an agent charges should always be clear right from the start. If you feel that the agent is tricking you into anything, get out. Everything should be black and white, with no unclear grey zones. You can ask for any information at any time. Although there’s no consensus on how responsive should your realtor be, keep an eye out if you think they might be avoiding communication.
Pressuring a quick decision
As a buyer, even if there are more offers, you should take your time to think your decisions through and check every detail before signing. Even if there is an urgency, it’s important to be sure of your decision to avoid later remorse. Pressuring a quick decision, especially if it’s “in your interest,” could mean that the home has some severe hidden flaw.
Mimics and body language
If you want to prepare yourself for any life situation, just look up how manipulative people and charlatans behave in general. Their communication style is also quite distinctive.
With manipulative tactics, someone might attempt to induce self-doubt and confusion in you. You might also feel shame or belittled. This way, an abuser can psychologically trick you into a wrong decision you later regret. Gaslighters usually seek to gain power over you by attempting to shake your reality through distortion. When you are dizzy and unsure, they can manipulate you into making decisions too.
Lack of certification
Although this is not always an excluding motive, it can be a safety net. Realtors who are part of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) have ethical obligations. They have to undergo exams from time to time, and being honest and ethical is in their job requirements. The lack of certification could be a red flag, that someone is avoiding the usual path.
When should you fire your real estate agent?
First, look at what you need and want and if the realtor you’re working with is doing their part to represent your best interest. This makes it easier to tell when should you fire your real estate agent. Getting rid of an agent can happen before a contract, saving you the nerves and delays. It’s always better to prevent than to undo.
If they don’t know what they’re doing, you should
If you are working with a contract, make sure to include that they are willing to let you out. And this goes both ways. The agent might prefer the freedom to get out too. Get an agreement that respects your choice of leaving if things don’t work out. As a seller, this is important because you might not be able to cancel before the contract expires unless you spend money on attorneys too. Your property gets put on a withdrawn status, and the procedure of getting out might also take a lot of time. So, can you fire your real estate agent as a seller? Yes, you can. Just make sure to sign the proper agreement. As a buyer, always ensure that you understand what you’re signing in the case of a buyer agreement, and be aware of the timeframe the two of you are tied together for.
Interview the agent
To avoid getting into a mess, as the right questions before signing an agreement. Don’t just stick to the first agent you see. If you don’t like the responses, look for someone else. You can ask questions to see how the specific real estate agents operate and if you’re a good match for each other. Just be mindful that they are doing the same. It’s a two-way street, and the agent probably has questions for you too.
Questions help you avoid being lied to or determine if an agent is not committed to serving your best interest. Some of these questions could be:
- How many transactions are they closing on average? – to get an idea of their experience.
- How will the two of you communicate? – to see in advance if both of your schedules allow seeing homes at the right times of the day. And also, how fast are you expecting to get a reply to a message or a lost call returned. There’s no pre-set rule as to how responsive should your realtor be, so you need to talk these things through to find a way that fits both of you the best.
- How’s the market at that specific time and place, and what strategies to use to increase the chances of your offer being accepted?
- How familiar are they with downpayment programs? -The agent should be able to help a buyer with advice on how to get the best out of their particular financial situation. This will help you determine if they are knowledgeable enough to help match you up with the most fitting lenders, for example.
- Why should I work with you?
- What makes your practice different from everybody else’s?
The answers will help determine if the agent is knowledgeable enough to serve your best interest until the closure and if you make a good match for working together.
Terminating an agreement
You have already signed a contract with somebody. Maybe you don’t want to buy/sell anymore, or you didn’t match with the agent like you thought you would – for whatever reason, you wish to end it. It happens all the time. If it’s not working out for you, you don’t even have to give much explanation. Just make sure to pay attention to make the message clear.
Terminating a contract should always be happening in written form. You write an email that it’s not working for you, and you should get, in turn, paperwork with the exact date when your agreement expires. Don’t forget: both of you have to sign it! That’s important because a new agent can’t sign a contract with you if you are still attached to somebody else through an agreement. The realtor might also be entitled to the commission if a home is bought/sold in the period you’re still in contract with them.
How to choose a good agent
Choosing a good agent is not that hard, but you should always take your time to find someone with whom you can work together. Ask for recommendations from family and friends to get a well-tried person to work with. Ask around about the reputation of the agent you are planning to hire. You can also “spy” a little before hiring an agent by checking their online profiles. Maybe you can find materials they post and make a general idea about them. If there’s a particular neighborhood you are planning to move to, you can look at what has been sold there and what listing agent sold them. You can also look for a real estate company in that specific neighborhood to find an agent.
Before making decisions and starting to work with somebody, always take the time and energy to choose the right person with whom you can agree, even on the details of how you will work together. Make sure to sign the right kind of contract to assure both of you of the right kind of freedom or safety. If it doesn’t work out, you can make a change, one way or another. Sometimes it’s all just a matter of good communication, openness, and setting good boundaries to ensure that it’s not a house of cards you are building.