How NOT to Work With a Real Estate Agent
Your job as a home buyer or seller isn’t to please your agent, of course. But on the other hand, driving agents nuts isn’t going to help ensure a smooth, successful transition, either. Here are five things you should not do when you work with a real estate agent.
1. Plan a secret price swap
Buyers often ask sellers for a credit if the final home inspection uncovers a problem. But after you have a deal, planning to negotiate the price down without telling your agent is a big no-no. It adds stress and ill will among all parties involved during what could already be a difficult transaction. A better strategy is to be upfront about your intentions.
2. Make unjustified lowball offers
The seller’s property is on the market for $400,000, and it’s worth close to that, based on recent comparable sales. And yet, a potential buyer offers $300,000 and won’t budge on the price. It’s not because the home is overpriced or there’s something seriously wrong with it. It’s just because the buyer wants a bargain.
But unjustified lowball offers can waste everyone’s time. The seller isn’t going to kiss off $100,000 for no reason, even if the property has been on the market a while. In fact, a lowball offer will likely just help the listing agent get a small price reduction, thus opening the window of opportunity to another buyer.
3. Make too many demands during the showing
It’s typical for a potential buyer to view a property during an open house, then ask for a private showing—even two or three times. But it’s frustrating when a buyer arrives to a showing with a designer, architect, contractor or some friends, then spends an hour or two at the home checking out and measuring each room. This is counterproductive, particularly if you do it at one home after another and never make an offer.
Some buyers have even been known to bring their psychic, who, after making a big splash with tarot cards and numerology charts, declares that the property has “negative energy” and isn’t a good fit, mainly based on the numbers in the property address. Did the psychic really need to see the property in person to figure that out?
4. Demand a lot of attention early on
Sometimes buyers are a year or two away from being ready to pull the trigger, yet they make a lot of demands on the agent’s time. Asking an agent to research city building permits on a house just because you’re curious—and even though the property doesn’t fit your requirements—is probably not a fair request. Agents can’t be as effective with clients if they’re spending tons of time researching tax records or city permits for clients who are years away from being ready to purchase.
5. Repeatedly change your mind
It’s not unusual to shift course based on what you learn during the home shopping process. Many buyers set out for X but end up with Y after learning the market and seeing where their dollar goes. But if you find yourself moving around and you’re uncertain about the object of your search, it’s possible you just aren’t ready to buy. That’s fine. Take your time and learn the market.
The home-buying process is a journey, and a good local agent, brought in at the right time, can add a lot of value. Be mindful that agents work for free until a buyer or seller closes. Agents should be leveraged as a huge resource—when the right time comes.