How to avoid a lousy agent!

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Midland Real Estate Alliance

7 ways to avoid a Lousy real-estate agent

Does your agent never get in touch, fail to offer advice, or work only part time? Well, it's about time you ditch the dud and find someone who is effective, like me!!!

By U.S. News & World Report


7 ways to avoid a crummy agent (© SuperStock)


In an uncertain housing market, an effective real-estate agent can be a big help to consumers looking to buy or sell property. But not all real-estate agents are created equal. Consumers who end up with a dud throw additional risk onto what's already likely to be the largest financial transaction of their lives. Choosing a  great real-estate agent is an important decision, says Peter Forster, a broker with Remax Gold Coast in Ventura, CA. "it is critical that you make sure - no matter what side of the transaction are on - that you have somebody who is working for you." But with so many options, how do you pinpoint the best broker?

To help consumers struggling with this question, U.S. News spoke with a number of brokers and compiled a list of seven ways to avoid a crummy real-estate agent:

1. Locate candidates
Begin your selection process by putting together a slate of qualified candidates. Start by speaking with friends and relatives who have recently bought or sold a home. What did they think about their agent? Would they use that agent again? Did that agent understand and relate to the current market conditions, short sales, REO's, distressed properties and how to take advantage of the land as it is in real estate.

"Get some really good word-of-mouth recommendations from people who have used an agent," says Karl Tunberg of Midland Real Estate Alliance in Tempe, Arizona. "That is important as well as doing your own research and analyisis of the local market you want to live in. Dont rely on co-workers or friends that dabble in real estate part time, this is a huge investment in your future, ask questons and seek the truth from real estate professional."

Although often overlooked, title representatives can also be good sources for referrals, says Joshua Dorkin, founder and chief executive of, a website that specializes in real-estate information and networking. "I tend to think title (representatives) are probably a source that folks don't really think about," Dorkin says. "But they are going to know who the good agents and the bad agents are, because they are the ones sitting in the room at the end." Dorkin also recommends that prospective home sellers keep their eyes peeled for properties in their neighborhood that have sold quickly and inquire about the agent responsible.

2. Run background checks
Once you have a handful of names, it's time for a bit of detective work. Plug the names into Google or your local newspaper's online search engine and see what pops up. "If you Google somebody and you can't find their cell phone (number) and you can't find their e-mail and you can't find their (website)  -  you don't see them marketing themselves on blogs and various websites, on Twitter and Facebook  -  it probably means that they don't necessarily have the marketing skills in this day and age to do the job." says Dorkin.

Forster says consumers can even run a background check through the website of their state's real-estate licensing board. "Make sure that the person you are (considering for your agent) has a license. It may seem obvious, but sometimes you forget that," Forster says.

3. Conduct interviews
After narrowing down the field of candidates, meet the agents face to face.

"The main thing is to spend time with an agent to make sure you are comfortable with thier strategy, thought process, ideas and personal habits. You need to feel like you can have a storng working relationship with because you will spend a lot of critical and improtant time with them findfing their dream home.....," says Tim Cusick of Long Realty in Tucson Arizona, "it is definitely a bonding experience between the the client and me."

 But make sure to tell each agent upfront that you are talking to other agents and be up front, direct and straight forward, we all want to know what you are thinkiong as a clinet so we can help you!!! it isnt a mystery game, this is what we do for a living, we want to help!" interviewing others, says Dale Douglas of Midland Real Estate Alliance, a Residential Brokerage in Tempe, Arizona "Don't spring it on your agent buddy after spending 2.5 days and 300 miles of showings....... we all want to be apprecaited and to work hard for each client," Douglas says.

4. Establish experience
In addition to getting a feel for an agent's personality and professionalism, there are several key qualifications consumers should establish during the interview. Determining the agent's experience in your target market is perhaps the most important. "You really need to ask them where they work most of the time: Where do you live? Where do you work? What area of town are most of your transactions in?" Douglas says. Consumers should look for agents with extensive experience in the area where their transaction is taking place. Douglas uses the analogy of a patient searching for a surgeon to perform an appendectomy. "Are you going to be his first patient, or has [the doctor] done 10,000 of them?" he says.

5. Consider communication
Consumers need to be sure that their agent will communicate effectively with them as the process unfolds.

"Those who are Gen Xers want to only talk to you via e-mail and text, and there might be some agents who might be of an age where e-mail and text aren't the major ways of communication," Douglas says. "Misunderstandings happen when you don't have all of that worked out upfront."

But regardless of the form of communication, consumers need an agent who is responsive and easy to reach. "And you can test that," Dorkin says. "Call them on off hours and see if they respond and how quickly they do respond. ... If they don't get back to you (promptly), that is a huge red flag."

6. Know resources, commitment
Agents who have robust resources will often be able to produce better results for their clients, Dorkin says. He suggests inquiring about the additional resources, such as a staff, that the agent can bring to bear on the transaction. "A bonus would be if somebody has a team or an assistant," Dorkin says. "That's just kind of a good sign that they have got their business structure together."

He also recommends that buyers steer clear of agents who work in real estate only part time. "They are probably doing that and something else, whether it is raising a family or doing another job," he says. "You do want somebody who is fully devoted to being either a sales or a buyers agent."

7. Call references
Finally, consumers should ask agents for a list of clients they have represented recently. "References are good, but the thing that most people don't do is they don't call them," Forster says. "Call them." When speaking with references, consumers should try to find out as many details as possible about the agent's performance during previous transactions, Forster says.

Comments (4)

CA COASTAL ESTATES Lauren Selinsky Perez CRS
California Coastal Estates - Aliso Viejo, CA
"Your Real Estate Broker" #oclauren

I am surprised if owners call for references when you can google and get testimonials... I think the more we have web presence and show owners with their keys in hand! is plenty of reference...

Jun 22, 2011 07:29 PM
Steven Wright
Home Real Estate - Aurora, CO
CRS - Home Real Estate - 720-989-5283

Nice references.  Thanks for the post.

Jun 22, 2011 07:52 PM
Ronald DiLalla
Century 21 Discovery DRE 01813824 - Anaheim, CA
No. Orange Cty Real Estate

A terrific list for cllients to work from..but I think most of them are using the internet just like they do to search for homes. thanks for sharing.

Jun 22, 2011 07:53 PM
Jon Quist
Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996

Good article with excellent informative tips.

Sorry to see that dreaded big RED X, though. As I scrolled down, while reading, I just knew it was waiting at the bottom.

Jun 22, 2011 08:20 PM