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6 Things to Avoid With Your Realtor When Buying a House

By Valencia Higuera

real estateEven if it’s not your first time, buying a home can be frustrating and stressful, as it can take weeks or months to locate the right house. Plus, with each bid, there’s a chance that the property owner will reject your offer and go with another buyer. Good real estate agents understand this frustration, and often go above and beyond to keep you happy. However, as a stressed-out home buyer, you may need to be careful not to blame your agent for problems out of his or her control.

You can’t predict how long it’ll take to purchase a home, and if the process takes longer than anticipated, your agent is likely to be the one to whom you vent frustrations. But remember, agents are there to help – if you don’t watch your step, you could get on your agent’s bad side. If this occurs, he or she may not work as hard for you, and might think of other clients first if an amazing house comes on the market.

Getting on Your Agent’s Bad Side

Avoid these activities that can kill the agent-client relationship:

1. Being Overly Demanding or Needy
Yes, you’re anxious to purchase your home. Believe it or not, your agent is just as eager. This is his or her livelihood, and there’s no paycheck until a deal closes. But don’t let eagerness cloud your good judgment.

Understanding that you’re not your agent’s only client can provide a little perspective. If you call or email your agent about a property, don’t get mad if he or she doesn’t immediately respond to your inquiry. Additionally, your agent is a human being with a personal life, so a little flexibility on your part goes a long way. You want to enjoy your evenings and weekends with family, and so too does your agent. Therefore, don’t announce that you’re only available for showings on the weekends or during the evening hours – make yourself available at other times too.

2. Making Low-Ball Offers
Real estate agents have access to comparative sales, and therefore they know the recent sale price of similar homes in the area. When you’re ready to bid on a property, take your agent’s recommendation. Several factors play into how much to offer for a property, including the seller’s motivation, the condition of the property, and whether you’re seeking assistance with closing costs. The worst thing you can do as a buyer is ignore your agent and submit a low-ball offer. There is a right and a wrong way to play this game, and if you start off on the wrong foot, you might turn off the seller – and your agent.

Trust that your agent knows what he or she is talking about. Low-ball offers get you nowhere and waste everyone’s time.

3. Skipping the Pre-Approval
A real estate agent can’t force you to get pre-approved for a home loan, but will probably recommend this action, as a pre-approval carries a lot of weight when shopping for a new home. With this documentation in hand, agents and sellers know that you’re a serious buyer: A bank has reviewed your application, ordered your credit report, and verified your income and down payment source.

A pre-approval also states how much you can afford to spend, which is crucial information for your real estate agent. Sure, you can give your agent a price range, but if you haven’t been approved for a home loan, he or she won’t know whether you can actually afford houses in that range.

4. Enlisting Dual Agents
Agents work hard for their clients, and a little client loyalty isn’t asking too much. Contacting listing agents yourself or simultaneously working with another buyer’s agent is unethical and sneaky.

Granted, no real estate agent is perfect. If you’re not 100% satisfied with your agent’s effort, don’t go behind his or her back – be open and honest. A professional chat can get to the root of problems, and if you both decide to part ways after the discussion, then you can feel free to search for another agent.

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5. Having a Judgmental Attitude
Remember, your real estate agent has your best interests in mind – plus, he or she earns a commission only after the deal closes. Therefore, your agent isn’t going to waste time with properties that you’ll hate. Displaying a negative attitude before stepping foot inside a home is one way to get on your agent’s bad side. Yes, first impressions say a lot about a property; for instance, if the lawn is overgrown and the siding is covered in mildew, you can only imagine what the inside looks like, right?

But don’t judge a book by its cover. Your agent may know a few secrets about this house, such as a newly remodeled bathroom or kitchen, as well as other features that will knock your socks off. Some home sellers are excellent interior designers, but horrible landscapers. Besides, anything that you don’t like on the outside is usually fixable.

6. Not Knowing What You Want
Real estate agents can best serve you if you know what you’re looking for and can provide instruction. If you don’t give the agent any direction, he or she may show you a bunch of houses that don’t interest you, which can waste valuable time.

Be prepared for your initial meeting. How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? Are you interested in one-story or two-story houses? Do you desire a particular neighborhood? What are your must-have features? What is the maximum you’re willing to spend? Also, if you’re buying with a spouse or significant other, make sure that you’re on the same page.

Final Word

Whether you’re buying or selling a house, a real estate agent can be your best friend. There is nothing quick or simple about negotiating a real estate deal. However, despite busy schedules and heavy workloads, your agent can guide you through the process and make professional recommendations – and if all goes well, this agent can be your go-to person for all your future real estate transactions.

What other tips make for a good relationship with real estate agents?

Valencia Higuera
Valencia Higuera is a personal finance junkie who enjoys reading articles on budgeting, saving money, and credit cards. She has written personal finance articles and blogs for several online publications. She holds a B.A in English from Old Dominion University and currently lives in Chesapeake, Virginia.

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  • John S @ Frugal Rules

    These are all great tips to try and avoid. I think a good agent can help you figure out what you want and have their eyes open to that so they can help you narrow down what you’re looking for.

  • http://debtblag.blogspot.com/ @debtblag

    Super-interesting topic for me! It is so very important to ensure that your realtor’s motivations are aligned with your own. Sure, they work on commission, but the difference between me paying $200,000 vs. $180,000 is enormous for me, but the difference in commission for them isn’t a life-changer. I ask around, check Yelp reviews, and ask them a lot of questions.

  • Greg

    I think there are a couple of critical things to understand.

    First (from experience), Buyers Agents have a hard time understanding what you want if what you want is a home that is significantly less than what a mortgage your income qualifies you for could buy. You really have to whack some of them over the head to get them to show you the right houses…or change Realtors in some cases if this fails.

    Second, in all dealings with Realtors realize that they are not necessarily looking out for your interests in the way you think no matter what anyone says. Your interests are aligned insofar as you want to buy (or sell) a home and they want that to happen. The misalignment comes into play when you have other criteria. They don’t and rarely will, they want to do the deal and quickly. Selling more properties per month far more than getting more or less for a given property, is what determines their success. Expect a good agent to emphasize the positives of any property and downplay the negatives and subtly challenge your objections. BOTH agents are selling the property to you.

  • Blaro

    When buying anything refer to RULE #1. NEVER trust someone who works on commission. They ALWAYS have their own interest in mind.

    The lady trying to sell clothes on commission is always going to say “Yes this suits you perfect” and realtors are no different. If you show a slight interest in something they are going to try to close the deal because like the article states “there‚Äôs no paycheck until a deal closes.”

    Realtors are not the only people who can look up recent sales in the area and get comparable costs. They are basically just a middle man and the world could do with fewer of those. Do your own research and know exactly what you want because after you are stuck with a 30 year mortgage your realtor will probably never talk to you again as they are off to the next sale.

  • s2kreno

    According to Freakonomics, real estate agents most certainly do not have your best interest in mind. In fact, in many cases agents overstep and make a deal harder to reach. Just this week, in fact, an agent I know (who is actually very ethical) was told by another agent that she would not present an offer from his clients to her client (yes that’s illegal, but she apparently didn’t care). His clients shrugged and bought elsewhere. Three months later, the first agent had her client reduce the asking price to less than the amount of that “insulting” offer.

  • s2kreno

    Dual agency, in real estate parlance, doesn’t mean going to more than one agent. It happens when the listing agent also represents the buyer — for example, if the buyer sees the for sale sign and calls the listing agent, then allows this person to represent him. And even in states where it’s legal, it’s not a good thing. Agents with a chance to “double end” their own listings aren’t always (or even generally) objective when it comes to recommending homes to clients or negotiating a price (how can they help you pay as little as possible while also getting the seller as much as possible?). There is no way one person can represent both buyer and seller without a conflict of interest.

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