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5 Red Flags to Look Out For When Choosing a Real Estate Agent

So, you’re either preparing to sell your home, looking to buy a new one or maybe even both! One of the most important steps in this process is choosing the right real estate agent to guide you through this adventure. Since choosing the right person can be a difficult and confusing process, we’ve gathered together some of the top things you need to look out for when making this decision. Having the best real estate agent by your side can truly make or break your future buying and selling plans. With that in mind, keep an eye out for the following five red flags when choosing who to represent you from a group of real estate agents:

 

Avoid Real Estate Agents that are Unfamiliar with the Neighborhood

Whether you are buying or selling your property, the real estate agent you align yourself with should be familiar with the area. If you are selling your home, and the agent arrives late saying, “Wow, I’m so sorry, I got lost!” that’s an immediate red flag. If you are looking to buy a home in a particular area and the agent showing you homes there ends up leaving with more questions they need to look into than answers they were able to give you, you may want to choose someone else to help you find your dream home.

If a real estate agent has trouble telling you where the closest school is, be careful!

Real estate agents should be able to speak to local schools, police/fire departments and nearby essentials such as grocery stores, pharmacies and retail areas. Even if an agent is unfamiliar with the specifics of a neighborhood, the best agents will do a little research on the area before meeting with any potential buyer or seller.

 

Beware of Real Estate Agents that Charge a Particularly Low Commission

Holy cow! As a seller, finding the lowest commission percentage for a real estate agent is like hitting the lotto… or so it may seem! The common phrase, “You get what you pay for” rings very true here. While commission rates will vary, anyone charging well under the traditionally acceptable 5-7% will likely come with a caveat.

Agents should charge a fair price for their work. Not too low or high.

The agent may be very inexperienced, or they may not be properly licensed. Avoid any issues that may come along with an obscenely low commission rate by trusting your gut and moving forward with a real estate agent you feel you can trust, rather than the cheapest one.

 

Stay Away from Part-Timer Agents Supplmenting their Income while their “Passion Project” gets off the Ground

Many people work in real estate part-time, but the best real estate agents will live and breathe the craft. An agent that only works part time does not signify that they aren’t good at what they do. However, an agent that is passively gathering information about the home you are trying to sell, or barely listening as you describe the type of home you want to buy is not the type of agent you want to involve yourself with.

Having a passion is important, but you should still be passionate about real estate!

An agent that works in the industry full-time will always be your best bet. It’s difficult to find someone who works in the industry part-time, only finalizing a sale here and there, that has the same skills of someone completely immersed in the industry.

 

It’s a Bad Choice to Work with an Agent Focused on Their Favorite Property, Not Yours

When it comes to buying a new home or selling your current one, your real estate agent should put your needs and desires first, not their payday. In the end, there’s more to what a truly reputable real estate agent wants out of a sale than just a commission check. While making money is important, as it is to just about anyone in any industry, a good real estate agent will not try to push you into a home that isn’t right for you just to make more money for themself.

Don't let an agent be too selfish with their needs over yours.

The same applies when you are selling your home. Some agents will push you toward the first offer you receive, even if it is low, because it means they can finish up, cash out and move on to the next. Whether you are selling your home or buying a home, the best real estate agents will focus primarily on your needs. In the end, it’s not only important to be paid for their work, but to also build relationships. If you are pleased with their services, you’ll likely recommend them to friends and colleagues. If things go terribly wrong, not only will you not be recommending them, the negative word-of-mouth can be just as damaging.

 

Make sure your Real Estate Agent has a Positive Online Presence

The Internet is the king of everything these days. When searching for a real estate agent to help you buy a home or sell the one you currently own, Google them. You’ll find one of three things: good things, bad things, or nothing at all. The two latter items mentioned are equally dangerous. Obviously, if you look up a potential real estate agent you are interested in working with and there are articles on how they’ve scammed people and their license was revoked, this is a good reason to not trust them.

If you can't find certain real estate agents on Google, don't work with them!

However, if there is no information at all, this is equally confusing. It likely means that they are either very, very new to the industry so no one, not even them, can speak to their skill level. Or, they might have a lot of bad information attached to their name that they have paid to suppress. Either way, be weary of any real estate agent that you can’t find a trace of online.

 

Overall, it’s never easy to find a real estate agent you can fully trust. However, the help of a professional is very valuable, so it is important to research the real estate agents in your area and choose carefully. Be sure to keep these tips in mind when making a final decision!