15 Red Flag Signs Of Buyer Beware For Real Estate Agents

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com SAL.2002007747

heads upIf you work with home buyers, you'll find there are some you want to work with and some you wish you never worked with.  The challenge is figuring out who belongs in each category as early as possible. 

While these aren't necessarily hard and fast rules since your tolerance for PITA people may be different than mine, but here's what I've learned as red flags over my 15+ years in the business:

1.  Buyers that ask for a rebate at the beginning.  They're tipping their hand right up front that they don't respect you or your paycheck.  Are there times I've accepted granting a rebate?  At the right price point and conditions, yes.  And I've usually regretted it by the time we got to the closing table.

2.  They're not willing to meet you at the office and your gut is sending you signals.  Listen to your gut.

3.  They refuse to get preapproved.  Unless their name is Warren Buffet, I'll give a buyer one outing for "free".  It's a chance to get know each other and whether I want to proceed.  Next step, I want confirmation that I'm not wasting my time and theirs showing homes they can't buy.

4.  "But Zillow says the home is worth ________".  The first time is free, but if I keep hearing that after we've had the discussion around why Zestimates are maybe good for rough ballparks, but NOT the true determination of a home's worth, we have a trust and expertise issue. 

5.  "But my friend says _________".  Pretty similar to #4.  How often does said friend buy and sell homes?

6.  "But I read online that ____________."  Okay, we're trending on a theme.  Again, trust and expertise.  If I explain why the article may not apply to our local market and the buyer STILL keeps going back to it, we have another trust & expertise issue.

7.  They think it's okay to yell at you.  Sorry, but you have yet to pay me a dime, and only people that pay me have any right to even think about yelling at me.

8.  They don't respect your time.  Way too early or way too late calls/texts/emails with an expectation of an immediate response.

9.  They're late to appointments and don't extend the courtesy of at least letting you know.  I can tolerate late within reason.  You stiff me entirely, MAYBE I cut you some slack, but I'm just as likely to terminate unless you've got a GREAT reason for why you couldn't even text me.

10.  They just can't make a decision.  Suitable home after home, and no offer written.  Meanwhile you're on your 10th outing and you've shown 50 houses so far.  You might think you've sunk too much time to quit, but they've shown you who they are, listen to them.

11.  Okay, they write offers, but they're not going to buy unless it's a steal...and the market is TOTALLY a seller's market.  The clock is ticking and you could be working with a realistic buyer.

12.  Your MLS posts the buyer's name that they've been arrested for squatting in vacant homes and as part of his sentence he has a TWO year ban from talking to any agents and if he contacts you, contact the local police department.  (True story, but I'd already fired him months before for stiffing me on an appointment).

13.  They only want to speak with the listing agent.  You MIGHT be able to convert them if you can get them to fully understand the listing agent works FOR the seller and not them.

14.  They let slip about seeing another home long after they started working with you and you know it wasn't an open house.  They've just told you they don't have loyalty to you. 

15.  They're absolutely convinced they can get a better deal on new construction WITHOUT you and won't let you register them with the builder's rep.

There are more warning signs of course, but these are the main ones that tell me I'm working on thin ice with a buyer.  I may feel lucky and gamble that I can "fix" whatever seems broken, but most times it just turns into something that spikes my blood pressure.

Bill of Bill & Liz aka BLiz


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Serving Warren County Ohio & Adjacent Areas


The Liz Spear Team of RE/MAX Elite
Elizabeth Spear, ABR, CRS, Ohio License SAL.2002007747

William (Bill) Spear, CRS, Ohio License SAL.2004011109  Kentucky 77938
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Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Prado Real Estate South - St. George, UT
So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR

Getting down to the minutia before showing homes is very telling and is a time saver Bill. I asked one potential buyer to sign a Buyer Broker Agreement because I thought she was two-timing me. Yep, she refused, saying she had been working with another agent as well. I told her the home tour was cancelled, she got out of my car and I drove back to the office. Enjoyed the list - fantastic post!

Nov 12, 2019 06:43 PM #22
Michael Rasch
International Property Finder - Property Option - Hallandale Beach, FL
Michael Rasch 305-741-1819

What a lovely and well written views. My favorite is the first one. because I am slightly niche in the multifamily market, I really work hard on my numbers to make sure I don't screw up. When a prospect states that to me, I just say "No, I don't offer rebates, and here is my buyers loyalty contract, if I run numbers and show you places, I get paid a full 3% of the purchase price because I work amazingly hard and never stop the process of your success. Also 99% of the time the other side will pay anyway, but in case that does not happen, I still will earn my full 3% at closing." 

Nov 12, 2019 06:56 PM #23
Lynn B. Friedman
Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty Call/Text 404-939-2727 Buckhead - Midtown - Westside -- and more ... - Atlanta, GA
Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers

Liz and Bill Spear 
Hard to have a favorite post of yours  because you guys do such great servicein your writing to both buyers and agents. Thanks - Lynn 

Nov 12, 2019 06:57 PM #24
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

Liz and Bill Spear Great post. Been there more than once and I agree -- red flags cause me to reconsider if we will be working together.  I am a professional and looking to help people who are serious about real estate. 

Nov 12, 2019 08:04 PM #25
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Your list gave me a trip down memory lane... to buyers I'd sooner forget!

As a real estate copywriter I run into a few of those "trust and expertise" issues, but thankfully not many. And I have learned how to say "I'm not the correct writer for you."

Nov 12, 2019 08:08 PM #26
Sam Kader MLO 130505 MB 78982
Pacific Coast Financial LLC Lic# MB78982 - Seattle, WA
Real Estate NMLS 91980 Mortgage Broker Lic MB78982

Thanks for sharing BLiz. I have a client that I've been working with for .. well  I am embarassed to even mention it.  It's good to be reminded. Thanks again. 

Nov 12, 2019 08:41 PM #27
Carolyn Roland-Historic Homes For Sale In Delaware and S. Chester County PA
Patterson-Schwartz Real Estate - Wilmington, DE
Carolyn Roland, GRI, CRS

It all goes to show that you need to ask the right screening questions and hope to figure out if they are telling the truth.

Nov 12, 2019 08:49 PM #28
Clint Lohr
Keller Williams Los Feliz - Glendale, CA

When a buyer won't sign a buyer/broker agreement, it's a dead giveaway that they are disloyal and don't respect you or your time.

Nov 12, 2019 09:18 PM #29
Gurnam Singh Panesar
RE/Max Real Estate Centre Inc., Brokerage - Mississauga, ON
Heart Lake Neighbourhood Specialist, Brampton

I will not show them a single house if they are first time buyers before meting them in the office and signing BRA. If they don't sign in the first meeting, go out with them 2 times and let them like your way of working. During this time ask them to get the pre-approval  or let them allow you to handle the mortgage approval. I do show homes to second time buyer if they are not selling their current home. If they have to sell current home, I will not show them next home before current home is listed.

Nov 13, 2019 03:53 AM #30
Myron Lund
Real Estate Directory - Rochester, MN
Serving the Rochester area for 30 years

Much of this also applys to sellers.

Nov 13, 2019 06:08 AM #31
Brian Rugg
Rugg Realty LLC Sun City Texas 512-818-6700 - Georgetown, TX
Sun City TX Real Estate - Georgetown, TX Real Est

Ain't it the truth.  It takes courage to cut someone loose or nip it in the bud, since they can claim discrimination. Bottom like we do get to decide who we work with and for.

Nov 13, 2019 06:27 AM #32
Florida Luxury Realty Inc - Hudson, FL
Helping Buyers and Sellers since 1994

Love this and I have learned all of them the hard way!  That's why I prefer to work with mostly sellers!  Thanks :)


Nov 13, 2019 06:34 AM #33
Ron Aguilar
Continental Mortgage - Saint George, UT
Mortgage & Real Estate Advisor since 1995

Excellent post, thanks for your time. This list is similar to being a Mortgage lender when dealing with prospects etc. 

Nov 13, 2019 06:43 AM #34
Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) - Toms River, NJ

#5 is my all time favorite, I have actually had clients quote hair dressers, the girl giving pedicures etc.... (but they are touching your feet????) and of course mom and dad who have been in their house since 1984.  I'll often tell the pedicure story to new clients and remind them that everyone will have an opinion on the subject of Real Estate and you have to take it all with a grain of salt and trust the professionals you hire. That list can also be endless.  I also tell new agents it is OK to fire a client.  Hard to do the first time, but it certainly is a relief when you do.  If they make your gut twist up it just isnt worth it, and the referrals you may get will typically be just like them.

Nov 13, 2019 06:53 AM #35
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

What a great read!!!  Oh if only we could give this to buyers! I esp appreciate the lines about "but my friend said...but Zillow said" and the reference to 'a great deal".  For the buyers that do respect my time, expertise and listen to my advice, I will really go the extra ten miles for them and tell them how much I appreciate the business!

Nov 13, 2019 09:34 AM #36
Creo Home Solutions
Creo Home Solutions - Perry Hall, MD
We buy houses for cash in MD in any condition.

Excellent points! It really is important in businesses where you are able to choose who you work with. As investors ourselves we have encountered similar situations. We've had previous clients call/text at all hours, requesting that we deliver unicorns. The dynamics are a little different when compared to that of a real estate agent and their clients but of course but many of the points still apply. I found myself drained after working with certain individuals and after some time realized it wasn't worth the headache. It seems like it takes some time in this business to get a good sense of who is worth your time and who isn't. However, this article hits on many major red flags to be aware of! Thank you for writing this!

Nov 13, 2019 09:38 AM #37
Dana Basiliere
Rossi & Riina Real Estate - Williston, VT
Making deals "Happen"


Oh yes these are good ones.  As someone has already mentioned it is easier now to cut them loose than when we were "newer agents".   We need to value ourselves even if they don't.

Nov 13, 2019 11:13 AM #38
Greg Kilroy
Keller Williams Sonoran Living - The Velocity Group - Paradise Valley, AZ
the Velocity Group

Great compilation here. After being burned a few times, you can really sniff them out pretty quickly. Being willing to turn down some clients, ones that meet criteria like you've listed, can really improve your attitude for working with the good ones.

Nov 13, 2019 12:45 PM #39
Greg Mona
Revelation Real Estate - Chandler, AZ
Professional Real Estate Representation for YOU!

Hi Bill. I smiled and nodded my head in agreement with several of the items you listed. As we know, the longer you're in the business and subsequently work with more types of people, the patterns do start to emerge. Many times it is simply a judgment call, even if a red flag is raised. I agree with going with your gut as the best advice. It is rarely wrong and can save you a lot of grief and wasted time in the future. Great post!

Nov 13, 2019 01:03 PM #40
Thom Abbott
MyMidtownMojo.com |770.713.1505 | Intown Atlanta GA Condo Living - Atlanta, GA
Midtown Atlanta GA Condos For Sale

Oh yeah.....seen many of these red flags...the lack of wanting to get a preapproval is one of the bigger ones!

Nov 14, 2019 07:09 AM #41
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