If you’ve never bought or sold a house before, you’ve probably never worked with a Realtor. You might have been so excited for the process you completely skipped over researching and interviewing prospective Realtors in order to find a really great one. If you didn’t do your research, it can cause major problems. So, how do you know if you’ve hired the wrong Realtor? Here are some common red flags to watch out for:
-Lack of or no communication – if your Realtor isn’t communicating with you regularly, it’s a major problem. Don’t you want to be kept in the loop during the buying or selling process? If it were us, the answer is a resounding yes! A really great Realtor should get back to you within 24 hours if not sooner. If your Realtor isn’t responding to you quickly, they most likely aren’t going to respond to the other Realtor, lender, attorney, etc. quickly and that can put your deal in jeopardy and falling through. It can also end up costing you time and money. Same thing with your mortgage lender and attorney. If they aren’t responding in a timely fashion, this is your number one red flag that you need to fire them and move on.
-Disorganized – There are many many steps when it comes to buying or selling a house; along with that comes loads of paperwork. If your Realtor is dealing with multiple transactions, including yours, its important they know where they are in each transaction. There is no excuse for missed deadlines, delivering paperwork late, being late to showings, writing in the wrong info. If your Realtor seems disorganized, move on.
-Doesn’t offer advice – You hired a Realtor for their wealth of knowledge on real estate, right? Well, your Realtor should be sharing that knowledge with you and offering you advice along the way, even after the transaction has closed. He/she shouldn’t be afraid to offer their advice and observations. If they’re not offering advice, chances are, they are too inexperienced or they’re just not particularly helpful by nature. Both are red flags.
-Lack of confidence – This is a major red flag. You should want a Realtor who is a top performer and will do what it takes to get you the things you want, especially when it comes to negotiations. Your broker shouldn’t seem uncomfortable or nervous.
-Lack of knowledge – If you routinely ask your Realtor a question to which they don’t know the answer, this is a red flag. Your Realtor should know most of the answers off the top of his/her head. If he or she doesn’t and has to get back to you later about every question, this can be a sign that your Realtor is inexperienced and doesn’t know what he or she is doing.
-Too pushy – Sometimes your Realtor will lack confidence, but sometimes they’re overly pushy and desperate. If that’s the case, he/she may make you do things you aren’t comfortable with, just so they can get a sale and make a commission. Don’t let that happen. Remember, this is your money and it is your decision. Walk away from anything you aren’t comfortable with and trust your gut.
-Lack of technology – These days there are a lot of tech resources a real estate agent has access to and should be using. Make sure your broker is tech savvy. That means they should be able to send you contracts to sign via programs like DocuSign which accept electronic signatures as opposed to having to fax or drive contracts to you for your signatures. If you’re in a multiple offer situation getting an offer to the seller now via email as opposed to having to wait hours for your Realtor to get the contract to you to sign can mean the difference between your winning that home or losing it.
-Giving verbal offers – If you find a home you’re interested in making an offer on and your Realtor says you can present a verbal offer to the seller, run away quickly. All offers must be in writing in order to be legal and valid.
What if you have found the wrong Realtor. Can you terminate the contract?
That depends on whether you’ve signed a representation agreement with that Realtor. If you haven’t signed a representation agreement then you are free to work with a different Realtor at any time. If you have signed a representation agreement, you need to read the agreement carefully. Most representation agreements have specific terms including a start and end date which usually last for 6 months to one year. However, even if you signed a representation agreement, your Realtor may be willing to terminate the contract if you explain you’re unhappy and want to find a new Realtor. If they don’t agree to terminate the representation agreement, the best thing you can do is speak to the Managing Broker of the real estate company where your Realtor works. Ask the Managing Broker to release you from the contract and explain why you’re unhappy. Often times that person will let you out of the contract or will assign you to a different (hopefully better) Realtor within the company.
Bottom line, use your best judgement and don’t pick a basket-case just because you like them or they are a friend of a friend. At the end of the day this is a business decision and you need someone great representing you and protecting your interests and money.