So, you’re thinking of hiring an agent to assist your investments. It’s a great idea in theory—unless you choose a bad real estate agent. Ideally, working with an agent should be an efficient way to find deals and get quickly under contract. When things go smoothly, you can direct more of your time and energy to other aspects of your business.
The trouble is, not all real estate agents will help your business. Some might even hurt it—and because few agents know how to work with investors, you’re not their traditional customer.
All traditional home buyers and sellers need is a quality agent. However, if you want an agent to help you with acquisitions, then you need more than that. You need an “investor-focused” real estate agent, which some very good homeowner-focused agents simply aren’t a good fit for. It’s a “round peg, square hole” sort of deal. You must be extra-alert for red flags, because choosing the wrong agent wastes of time and money. (It’s also super frustrating.)
Luckily, bad agent red flags are easy to spot. Be on the lookout for these seven characteristics of a bad agent, and save yourself some pain.
Signs of a Bad Real Estate Agent
Protect yourself, your time and your money. Don’t work with a bad real estate agent! Beware of these seven red flags. They’ll help you quickly identify agents to avoid.
1. Doesn’t ask about your goals or plans
Anyone can do paperwork and gather signature. A good agent ensures they’re a good fit for a potential buyer’s investing strategies and knows how to help you accomplish your goals. This isn’t about poor communication—bad agents are just looking for anyone with a pulse.
If your agent isn’t asking questions about what you’re looking to accomplish, don’t bother looking any deeper.
2. Isn’t concerned with a lifelong relationship
A great real estate agent knows businesses are built on lifelong referrals. Working as a buyer’s agent leads to working as a seller’s agent—doubly so if you’re an investor. If the agent you’re speaking with doesn’t seem interested in forming any kind of lasting alliance, they’re probably seeing you as nothing more than a possible paycheck.
Your agent shouldn’t be proposing marriage, but if they aren’t trying to get a feel for your personality and character, don’t invest any more time.
3. Doesn’t do much business
Yes, this matters. The best agents get the most referrals and business.
Don’t feel sorry for an agent who isn’t producing and give them your business. It doesn’t help. It’s just stupid. Frankly, many licensed agents should not be working—especially not with investors. Giving someone business out of pity prevents them from realizing, finally, that they’re in the wrong industry. Don’t let pity make your decision.
4. Doesn’t speak the language of real estate
If your agent doesn’t understand how loans, escrows, or offers work, they clearly don’t care much for their profession. Even the stupidest person can close a deal. Trust me. But can they close a deal and make sure it’s the best deal? Not so much. If your agent hasn’t been learning along the way, it means they are apathetic. Avoid them.
5. Offers the cheapest commission
Sorry, guys: This one is sad but true. If your agent’s biggest value is their cheap commission, that’s a problem.
Choosing a buyer’s agent because they refund their commission is like consciously choosing to shop at the flea market to save money. It’s fine to do—but know what you’re agreeing to. The things you buy might not work right. And with an agent, you’re probably not getting the best deal.
This goes for agents who want to sell your property, as well. If an agent can’t negotiate their own commission, why on earth would you trust them to negotiate your money—which they’ll care about even less?