How to Avoid Working with an Imposter REALTOR®!

Real Estate Agent with Boardman Realty Minnesota License#90858

No, I’m not suggesting that your agent has forged their real estate credentials…let me explain. Years ago I was out at Maplewood Mall in the upstairs food court eating lunch with my sons and teenaged niece (she’s a 30 something now so it was awhile back). As we shared our fast food fare, an attractive middle-aged woman dressed in very trendy clothing passed by but she was simply trying to hard to appear youthful. My niece mumbled under her breath, “Imposter Mom”. I had never heard such a thing but found it rather funny. Especially when the gal was well out of earshot, my niece emphatically added, “Imposter Grandma’s are the worst!”

My niece explained to me that an “imposter mom” was someone her mom’s age who impersonated a teenager in dress, hairstyle, make up etc. It’s a 40-something who steals her daughter’s latest issue of Seventeen Magazine and tries to be cool. It really doesn’t work. I thought it was hilarious and begged my niece to let me know if I ever was to cross that line.

So this conversation came to mind recently as I hear from people regarding working with real estate agents that are somewhat lacking in the professional department. These agents appear to be REALTORS®. They have real estate licenses, business cards and most even have that handy dandy key that opens those fancy electronic Supra lockboxes. But something is missing and it will come to light soon after the buyer or seller signs the contract. They discover their agent isn’t working full time in real estate. Some don’t want to pay the fees to get access to the electronic lockboxes. Some just don’t work enough to understand how to write a contract clearly as the forms change annually.

I have had the opportunity to work on the other side of a few deals with these imposters. There was the contract with a teacher who only planned to sell in the summer but took listings all year round anyway. Another deal was with a daycare owner who could only return calls after 6 or at naptime. And then there was the agent who worked full time retail who was impossible to get a hold of because of a constantly changing schedule. There are also agents who call or cancel appointments of properties with secure Supra lockboxes because they do not own an electronic key and cannot get into a listing.

As a cooperative agent, it is frustrating to work with an imposter real estate agent, but as a client, it could be down right infuriating! When a buyer signs a listing agreement or contract for buyer’s representation, it is important to ask a few questions regarding how much time and effort your REALTOR® will be putting into your sale or purchase. Finding a home or buyer for your home will take time and hard work on the part of your agent. Your REALTOR® should make the process easier from the time you sign your contract to closing day.


  • How long have you been licensed to sell real estate?
  • How many homes have you sold this past year? In your career?
  • What percentage of your business comes from past client referrals?
  • Are you a real estate agent or a REALTOR®?
  • Do you work full time in real estate?
  • Do you work individually or as part of a team? If part of a team, are do all team members have similar expertise and quality of service?
  • How many clients, buyers and sellers, do you currently represent?

Did you know? Not every real estate agent is a REALTOR®. A REALTOR® is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and abides by their code of ethics.

Finding the right real estate agent to work with means you will have to take the time to weed out the imposters. See I can overlook the bad styling of an imposter grandma, in fact sometimes they can provide a good chuckle. But in my mind, an imposter REALTOR® is the worst! Buying and selling a home is too important to be represented by someone who is less than 100% a professional.

Posted by

Teri Eckholm. REALTOR with Boardman Realty, is a native Minnesotan who has lived and worked in the Minneapolis St Paul metro all of her life. She specializes in lakeshore homes, acreage properties and first time home buyers but assists anyone making a move in the north and east Twin Cities metro.

If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give Teri , a call or visit her website for a FREE Home Buyer Success Guide or FREE Home Value Report She specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

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Than Maynard
Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma - Purcell, OK
Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862

The imposters come in all stripes, but the part timers are the worst. They are unavailable while at their 'real' job OR they are cheating their employer while doing real estate on the side.

Are there good part time agents? Of course, just like there are terrible full time agents. There are a few full time agents around here that are so abrasive I wonder how they ever get business, but at least they are available.

Dec 11, 2012 09:46 PM #21
Olga Simoncelli
Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate - New Fairfield, CT
CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management

At least the ones you described had a signed Buyer Agency agreement. What is the so-called full-timers' excuse not to  insist on those?

Dec 11, 2012 09:48 PM #22
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Teri, I don't have a problem working with part time agents who take this business seriously. I do have a problem with the spare time agents out there though.

Dec 11, 2012 09:55 PM #23
Richard Bazinet /MBA, CRS, ABR
AZuRE Team - Realty ONE Group - Scottsdale, AZ
Phoenix Scottsdale. Sellers, Buyers & Relocations

Hi Teri. I kinda like that title of 'imposter' agent. I had one two years ago show one of my listings which resulted in her calling me to ask me if could sit down with her to help her write the contract for 'her' buyer- client...

Dec 11, 2012 10:57 PM #24
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Hello all!


I don't have time to address each one of you individually...First and for most. I have no problem with PART TIME agents....I have worked with many that were extremely professional and did an excellent job for their clients. I had no trouble getting a hold of them and we didn't have to work around their other job schedule...These examples above were of a few that didn't make the grade. Also many of the newest agents I have worked with were the easiest transactions to put and part time does not mean that they are unprofessional. Not answering phone calls, texts and emails is a whole different matter.

I do think buyers and sellers have to ask themselves what they expect from the agent they choose to work with and if he/she will do the best job for them. Please remember that these posts are written not for agents but to EDUCATE the public. The buyer/seller must decide what agent believe they can work best with whether it is a team or an individual, new or experienced, part time or full time etc.

Imposter real estate agent is just a headline to attract attention and meant to let the public know not all REALTORS are created equal. There are also "imposters" that are full time with years of experience but in my opinion....they just don't do a professional job for their clients. It is important for the consumer to be informed and  to ask questions before signing a contract you could be stuck in for 6 months to a year or more.

Dec 12, 2012 12:16 AM #25
Karen Anne Stone
New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County - Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth Real Estate

Teri, a few years ago one of my listings was sold by an agent, and from the questions she was asking after we came to an agreement on the contract led me to ask about her experience.  She was brave and kind enough to tell me that this was her first sale... and that no, she wasn't very sure of what she was doing.

I asked her if she would like me to guide her through the sale until closing, and she very quickly said yes.  She was also a part-timer... whose main job was as a teacher in an elementary school.

Because she was so upfront, and because she was so eager to learn... I really enjoyed helping her.  Sure, I pretty much did all of the work to get the sale to closing, but really... who cares?  We got it closed, her buyers and my sellers were thrilled, and she has turned into one of my biggest fans... even though she is with a different broker.

Sometimes we have to do what we have to do.  And... we can either make the best of it, or help turn it into a nightmare.  I took the first choice... and I would do so again.

PS... I know you were not trying to come down on all part-time Realtors, and as you said... many full-time agents don't know what they are doing, either.  We just do what we have to do.

Take care... have a great week!

Dec 12, 2012 12:36 AM #26
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author


Everything should be investigated or researched now a is as simple as that. Looking people in the eye while dialogue works wonders too...

Dec 12, 2012 12:39 AM #27
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Karen Anne--I too have worked with many agents who were professionals part time and new. It is important for the consumer to ask questions of their agent. Sometimes a new person with drive can outshine experience for the buyer/seller. The consumer needs to ask questions to find out who works best for them, with them and with other agents too!

Dec 12, 2012 12:54 AM #28
Gay E. Rosen
Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty - Larchmont, NY
As Real as Real Estate Gets!

Teri - really great post..  there are those imposter Realtors who also have so many clients that they are spread too thin, and do not follow up either..

Dec 12, 2012 02:36 AM #29
Paula McDonald
Magnolia Realty ~ Granbury - Granbury, TX
Magnolia Realty ~ Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

I  have never heard this term being used this way.  How about those imposter clients?

Dec 12, 2012 03:35 AM #30
Ginger Harper
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage - Southport, NC
Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County!

There is definately a difference between a Realtor and a non-realtor..  I am a REALTOR!

Dec 12, 2012 04:18 AM #31
Chris Hayes
Keller Williams Realty Northwest LA - Shreveport, LA
Your Shreveport/Bossier Real Estate Partner

I stopped bringing part-time agents onto my team a few years ago.  Although they were bright and hard working, it didn't take long for the added work load to stress them out.  Following up on the leads I provided always had to come second to their regular paycheck so they (and I) ended up missing out on sales.  I realize there are new agents who want to break into the business but need to hang onto that steady paycheck.  One solution may be to act as a "showing" agent for a busy full time agent.  They gain some experience at showing buyers and earn some additional money. 

Dec 12, 2012 04:40 AM #32
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA


Yes, that can be a problem with some agents.  I have found that some agents who have been in the business for many, many years are part time agents heading to retirement. 

Dec 12, 2012 04:53 AM #33
Doug Rogers
Bayou Properties - Alexandria, LA
Your Alexandria Louisiana Agent

Anything that will limit your access (part time, sick family member, no car) should be disclosed to the client upfront. Then make accommodations that address your limitations.

My "favorite" are the agents that won't pay the 14 bucks for a lock box key. Nothing like having to meet a buyer's agent at a home so he/she can save 14 dollars a month...

Dec 12, 2012 05:58 AM #34
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Please show me an agent who is "full time".  What does "full time" mean anyway?  Is is a 40-hour work week, and 40+ work week?  There's a ton of "full time" agents who don't do much at all.  I know some "part time" agents that are closing a ton of deals. 

Dec 12, 2012 06:29 AM #35
Tom Burris
NMLS# 335055 - Baton Rouge, LA
Texas/Louisiana Mortgage Pro - 13 YRS Experience

I meet lots of "Imposter Realtors" in my line of work....

Dec 12, 2012 07:35 AM #36
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Hi All!

Again...don't have time to address everyone but want to make sure that everyone realizes an imposter agent is not defined by full or part time alone. It is about professionalism and the agents I used in my example happened to have other jobs AND lacked professionalism. They were genuinely nice people but I could not always get a hold of them. In one case, the broker did have to take over for the "busy" agent because their client got upset.

This post is to educate consumers on asking questions before signing contracts with an agent...and what questions to ask when interviewing agents.

I appreciate all of your comments...Full or Part time is not the issue. Providing good service and communication is.



Dec 12, 2012 09:00 AM #37
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Teri, if only there were a way to know if someone has their act together or not when they are part time. Sadly, there isn't, so we will continue to suffer when both full time and part time agents are not professional and knowledgeable.


Dec 12, 2012 02:03 PM #38
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Sharon--It is our job to work with other agents no matter what their professionalism is. If they have the listing or the buyer, as the case may be, we will work with them and make the best of it for our clients' sakes.

This post is to the consumer who does have a choice. If they ask a few questions before they list or sign a buyer's rep agreement, they can avoid many of the imposters.

Dec 13, 2012 07:03 AM #40
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services Inc - Gulf Breeze, FL
Buyers Agent 800-309-3414 Pace and Gulf Breeze,Fl.

I find your posting accomplishing a dialogue for sure and a good read, I get it. Full or Part time if the customer is not first then you don't need to be in the business.

One of C21 agents here is a part time agent but you would never know it because she has someone that answers her phone and handles things when she is not available plus she is a hoot to work with.

Dec 16, 2012 01:04 PM #41
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Teri Eckholm

REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro
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