If you’ve been in real estate sales for long, at some point you’ve had to deal with a deficient real estate agent. They might be incompetent, or unethical, or dishonest, or just plain lazy.
Some of them are just - I don't know - unintelligent and lacking ambition might cover it. These are the ones who want to suck up your time gossiping, complaining, or just visiting.
But whatever they are, they make your job more difficult. If you're relatively new to the business, you may have been lucky so far, but one of these days you'll meet up with one of them. Be prepared!
If they fall under the category of time-wasters you have to shut them down so you can get back to work, even if it feels rude. They're annoying, but harmless unless you give them your time.
The others can actually interfere with your success, so you need to guard against them.
What can you do when faced with a deficient real estate agent?
In most cases, they will be on the other side of a transaction, so you can’t fire them and walk away. Pulling your hair and steaming won't help.
What you’ll need to do instead is take steps to protect yourself and your clients.
First, what kinds of dodgy things do deficient real estate agents do?
As listing agents, they:
- Fail to present offers and respond in a timely manner.
- Delay presenting offers from you while they wait for an offer from their own buyers.
- Fail to respond to counter-offers in a timely manner.
- Lie to buyers or buyers agents about material facts.
- Encourage homeowners to hide defects that should be disclosed.
- Violate Fair Housing or ADA laws – they are unwilling to present offers from certain people.
- Fail to provide net sheets or explain the costs of buyer requested concessions, so sellers can understand their financial bottom line.
- Fail to help sellers understand various clauses and contingencies in the offers they receive.
- Fail to offer guidance in negotiating.
- Lie to sellers.
One of the worst (or perhaps THE worst) is lying to sellers. This happened to me, and I would never have known if it weren't for the fact that the seller and I were acquaintances. A few months after "he" had written "rejected" across an offer I'd submitted, I happened to be talking with him in his store. He said "Marte, why did you re-submit that offer when you knew my sisters would never go for an owner carry contract?"
You could have knocked me over with a feather, because the truth was - I hadn't. I had submitted a new offer for all cash at closing.
The seller's "friend" - a definitely deficient real estate agent - had not shown him the offer. He just told him it was the same as our original offer, so the seller authorized him to reject it. That agent had his own buyers, who had offered less. He wasn't about to let the property go to mine, so he lied to the seller.
Looking back, I should have insisted on seeing the seller's actual signature - and should have compared it to his other signatures in my file. It just didn't occur to me that the other agent would be THAT dishonest.
As buyer agents, they:
- Fail to keep showing appointments, or show up late without notice.
- Fail to turn off lights and lock doors upon leaving a house.
- Fail to control buyers’ children while in the house / on the grounds.
- Fail to keep an eye on adults.
- Fail to fill out forms properly.
- Fail to respond to counter-offers in a timely manner.
- Violate Fair Housing or ADA laws – they are unwilling to show listings to certain people.
- Fail to inform buyers of known defects.
- Discourage buyers from having inspections done.
- Fail to keep clients informed during the time from agreement to closing.
- Refuse to accompany buyers to inspections.
- Fail to help buyers understand the full financial picture, such as funds needed to close.
- Fail to provide guidance during negotiations.
Here are 11 steps to take to protect yourself and your clients
- If you are a listing agent, warn sellers ahead of time that agents may fail to show up, or will show up late. Remind them that they might not lock doors – or even shut them! Remind them that children could be running loose – so breakables need to be up and out of the way.
- Remind them that people do snoop and some people are thieves. Put valuables, prescription drugs, and documents revealing their names, Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, etc. in a locked cabinet or drawer.
- Document everything. Note dates, times, who said what, etc. Include correspondence with clients, because… sometimes you’ll get misplaced blame. You never know ahead of time when it will be important for you to have documented a call with your clients or with another agent. So make it a habit - every day, with every call.
- Write disclaimers about anything in question. Get signatures on those disclaimers.
- Save all emails and text messages from the deficient real estate agent.
- When you can’t get that agent to answer the phone or return a call, send a text and an email and save them both!
- Follow important phone calls with a recap via email. Ask the other agent to reply and verify that you “understood everything correctly.” If no answer, repeat. Do the same, by the way, with your clients - just to make absolutely certain there are no misunderstandings.
- Send incomplete forms back to the agent in question or write an addendum addressing and clarifying the missing details and asking for verifying signatures.
- If you are the listing agent, make sure that buyers have properly signed all disclosure forms. If you are the buyers agent, make sure you and your clients are given all necessary disclosure forms and that they have been signed by the sellers.
- If the situation is getting worse and all else has failed, inform your broker, then go over the agent's head to his or her broker.
- Resign yourself to the fact that you’ll have to do some of that agent’s work – or it won’t get done. Seasoned agents know that there’s work to be done between agreement and closing – and know that some agents will leave it all for someone else to do. Don’t complain, just do it and be grateful that you can keep the transaction moving forward for your own client’s sake – and for your bank account’s sake as well.
What you must not do…
- Bad mouth or engage in gossip about that agent.
- Contact the other agent’s clients directly. Just don’t do it. If you’ve tried communicating with the agent and tried contacting the broker – all with no results – call the legal hotline for advice. At this point you may need to call on your local ethics committee or even the state real estate commission. You may also need to call your own attorney. But don't call their clients.
Regarding #4 - Writing disclaimers.
Here's a for-instance: The listing agent says there's a 10 year warranty on the roof. They can't present a document to prove that. Tell your clients, in writing, that although this is what the agent said, you have no proof of that and you recommend not relying on hearsay. It would be better to have a professional roofer inspect the roof. Have your clients sign the disclaimer, stating that you've informed them.
Whatever their reasons, there are deficient real estate agents who will make your job difficult at times.
That's a fact that can't be helped. What CAN be helped is your reaction to them. Don't let them get you down. Keep your eyes on the job you're doing for your clients, and how you are helping them.
And when you look around, notice all the other GOOD agents who are working hard for their own clients. Good agents do outnumber the bad ones - but we don't notice because they have their heads down, doing their work.
By the way...
I'm sure you noticed that in my lists of the things deficient real estate agents do, some of those things only harm their own clients. These are the things that give real estate agents a bad name.
That means... if you do the opposite, you should mention it in your marketing materials, including your real estate bio.
For instance, you might say: "I always take time to fully explain the purchase and sale agreement and what each clause means to my buyer or seller. I also make sure that my clients know how different decisions will affect their financial bottom line."
"When accompanying buyers to their home inspections, I assist them in asking the right questions, so they'll understand how to maintain their new home."
"Waiting for closing can be nerve-wracking. That's why I make sure to keep my clients fully informed of each step. They always know what's happening next and when it should take place."
This post first appeared at: When you have to deal with a deficient real estate agent... - Copy By Marte