Real estate is not an “easy” career choice—I’ll be the first to admit that. It’s a stressful job with 24/7 responsibilities and a lot of disappointment. There are millions of real estate agents out there; Many are competent, hard-working, and reliable, but there will always be some who are not. I’ve been fired by clients before, and I’ve taken on clients who fired their previous agent more times than I can count. Sometimes, there are situations that are out of your control, but most of the time, it boils down to three factors: honesty, effort, and attention to detail.
If you want to make sure you’re at the top of your game as a salesperson, or if you’re a buyer or seller looking to pick the best agent, I’m here to help. Here are the top three most common complaints people have about real estate agents.
Mistake #1: Lying.
Have you ever inquired about a listing with incredible photos, only to go see it and find a different (much less impressive) unit altogether? Bait-and-switch tactics are not OK, and are a perfect example of how some agents immediately alienate a potential client from the get-go. Real estate is not just about doing anything it takes to get people in the door; It’s equally important to earn your client’s trust and establish your credibility. This is a word-of-mouth and referral business, and your reputation is everything. While there’s always a bit of room for “creativity” to close a deal, flat-out lying will never pay off. Look for an agent who:
• Does not post listings for properties that are no longer available (unless it’s because they’re accepting backup offers)
• Has all the basic facts ready when you see a listing, including providing a floorplan and information about any co-op, broker, or other fees
• Will share the pros and cons of multiple listings to help you narrow down your choices
• Has a relationship with the building or landlord and tells you if there are multiple units available
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• Works for a reputable brokerage or has great reviews and references
Mistake #2: Laziness.
So much of what makes one salesperson succeed over another is pure hustle. Who is willing to show apartments at 6 p.m. on a weeknight or start prepping for an open house at 7 a.m. on a Saturday? Who is willing to take a call with an international buyer, even if it’s at a bad hour here in the U.S.? Who makes an effort to get to know you so they can help find you the perfect listing? Who will go see units for out-of-state clients and take them on a FaceTime tour to save them a trip? Those agents are the ones you want to work with.
Laziness is a huge turnoff—whether it’s not having the information you asked for, not being on time and available for appointments, not sending listings that fit your criteria, or not negotiating hard enough for you on the price. Pick an agent who has a lot of energy and says “Yes” as much as possible. Pick an agent who is upbeat, friendly, and always happy to answer your questions. And pick an agent that seems eager to find you the perfect place, no matter what it takes.
Mistake #3: Going M.I.A.
In any industry, but especially in real estate, staying in touch with clients and maintaining good communication is everything. Most agents are constantly communicating; They’re out networking at events, reaching out to past clients, following up with current clients, and cold-calling new clients. Communicating is one of the biggest parts of any sales job, but making small talk and being “charming” is just a small part of it; The other side of the communication coin is what makes or breaks an agent: Being available, reliable, and responsible throughout the entire process.
If your agent isn’t in touch with you every day, find a new agent. If he/she takes six hours to reply to a simple question, find a new agent. If he/she fails to check in about how you’re settling into your new place, or to send a Thank You card or gift, find a new agent. Your agent should always be available, concerned, and helpful with any issues—even after the deal closes.