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Signs of a Bad Real Estate Agent

You have to love real estate agents, right? Okay, maybe I’m just saying that because I’m married to one. But hiring an agent is a really important step when you’re buying or selling a home.

Sometimes, though, you hire one and things don’t go according to plan.

If you’ve found yourself in that spot and you’re frustrated with your real estate agent, you’ve come to the right place. I’m going to walk you through 10 signs you have a bad agent so you’ll know for sure if it’s time to find someone new. We’ll also talk about the right way to fire a real estate agent—because, let’s face it, that can be a really uncomfortable situation.

Here are some of the biggest red flags when it comes to real estate pros. If one or more of these apply to your agent, it might be time to move on.

1. Communication Issues

One of the most common issues home buyers have with their real estate agent is not being able to get in touch with them. The buyers call. They text. They email. What do they hear back? Crickets. 

This isn’t just something to gloss over, guys—it’s a really big problem! It’s super important to move quickly when you find a home you like, especially if you’re in a hot housing market. Poor communication from your agent can delay the process and ruin opportunities to buy the house you really want. Don’t settle for an agent who ignores you.

2. Lack of Leadership

You need an agent with a strong backbone—there are big decisions to make here, people! You need someone who will give you honest advice based on their research and experience even when they know you may not like what they have to say. A wishy-washy agent who isn’t willing to offer the strong guidance you need may not have the experience it takes to negotiate a good deal on your new home—or they just may not be cut out for the job.

3. Power Struggles

Now, even though you want your agent to be a strong leader, you don’t want them to be so strong-willed that they forget who’s the boss. Spoiler alert: That’s you. You’re in charge during the buying or selling process, not the agent. Someone who forgets that and pressures you to buy a home you aren’t sure about (or one that’s out of your budget) is more interested in their commission than helping you.

4. Abundance of Attitude

You want your agent to have confidence in their abilities, but that doesn’t give them a license to be a jerk. No matter how many questions you have or how basic they may be, your agent should be patient enough to answer every single one of them. Plus, when your agent is negotiating, they’re representing you. You don’t want the person who represents you to be arrogant or condescending, right? Let me make this really simple: You don’t have to put up with an agent who’s just plain rude.

5. You’re Getting Nowhere

If it’s been months since you started working with your agent and you aren’t any closer to buying or selling than when you started, that’s a big problem. Now, if you’re being overly critical of the homes your agent is showing you and you aren’t willing to budge even a little on your asking price or the features you want, then this could be your fault. But if your agent keeps showing you homes you’ve already said aren’t right for you or your house isn’t getting any offers, they’re wasting your time.

6. Limited Full-Time Experience

This needs to be a deal breaker, you guys. An agent without much experience doesn’t have the industry contacts or know-how they need to handle the buying or selling process. Misfiling paperwork, misunderstanding the fine print, or missing a deadline can easily mess up your home sale, and these things are more likely when you’re dealing with an agent who’s just getting started. Plus, you need an experienced negotiator—both for the sale price and any repairs that may come up after the home inspection.

You simply can’t fake experience in the real estate world. Only hire an agent with at least a few years of experience in your area. And by the way, it’s important for that experience to be full time. Why? Well, that takes us right into the next red flag.

7. They Do Real Estate as a Side Gig

Buying or selling a home is a huge deal with big-time dollar signs attached. So, why in the world would you put something so important involving that much money in the hands of someone who’s only focused on it as a side project?

Here’s the deal, everyone: You need an agent who’s highly motivated to earn their commission—one whose main source of income comes from helping people buy and sell homes. If an agent is doing real estate as a side gig, that means getting deals done isn’t what feeds their family. And that means the buying or selling process isn’t their priority and they won’t get you the best bang for your buck.

On the other hand, if someone’s livelihood depends on real estate, they’ll be highly motivated to serve you with excellence and help you reach your goal as quickly as possible. That’s what you’re looking for!

8. Poor Marketing

Your agent’s job is to attract as many potential customers as possible to view your home. These days, that requires a lot more than putting a sign in your yard and posting a photo on their website. In the real estate industry, people call that strategy post and pray. I’m a big believer in the power of prayer, but I also believe in marketing.

Ask to see your agent’s marketing plan for your home and make sure you understand the why behind their decisions. They may have some good reasons, but they still need to explain those reasons to you.

9. You’re Getting Offers . . . but No Sale

This red flag is geared more toward sellers. Getting offers is great when you’re selling a home, but remember: It all comes down to the sale. If you’ve had several offers come in but your agent hasn’t closed the deal on any of them, that’s a problem.

There are lots of reasons why that could be happening, like your agent being a poor negotiator or having a subpar marketing plan. But whatever the reason is, your agent’s failure to close the deal is hurting you.

10. You’re Not a Priority

The math is pretty easy when it comes to an agent’s commission: The more expensive the house is, the bigger the commission will be. But that should never come into play in the way an agent treats you.

If your agent treats you as a “lesser” client because you’re selling a smaller home or have a small budget, that’s not okay! Here’s what to watch for: lack of communication, showing up late for appointments, little patience for answering questions, or even pressure to decrease your asking price without giving any evidence to support that recommendation.

What to Do if You Have a Bad Real Estate Agent

If you’ve been reading through this list of warning signs and nodding along, or if little lightbulbs are going off in your head, it may be time to hire a different agent.

Before you go burning bridges, try having a calm and polite (but firm) conversation with your agent about your concerns and the issues you’ve noticed. Then, if some time passes and they’re just not coming around—or if your agent ignores you entirely—it’s time to let them go.

How to Fire a Real Estate Agent

You have to be really careful when you’re moving on from a real estate agent because agents will usually have you sign an exclusive contract with a defined expiration date.

A good first step is to speak with the agent’s broker and ask them to let you out of the deal, and there’s a good chance they’ll say yes. After all, brokers don’t want to get a bad reputation in the community.

If that doesn’t work, it may be time to get a lawyer involved. But if that’s too expensive or impractical (or if nothing else works), you may just have to wait out the contract. If your agent has any integrity at all, it shouldn’t come to this.

In the meantime, you can start interviewing potential replacements and ask them these 10 questions to make sure you wind up with a rock-solid agent this time around.

How to Avoid Hiring a Bad Agent in the First Place

Now that you know the warning signs of a bad real estate agent, let’s talk about how to avoid this whole mess from the beginning.

Our team at Ramsey has made it really easy for you to find an awesome buyer’s or seller’s agent. All you need to do is get in touch with one of the RamseyTrusted agents in your area.

RamseyTrusted agents are pros our team personally finds, vets and coaches to get you the best of the best—we wouldn’t endorse them otherwise!

They have the heart of a teacher, which means they’ll make sure you understand exactly what’s happening every step of the way (along with honoring your financial goals first). Best of all, they steer far away from the 10 red flags we just looked at. So, if you need an agent upgrade, what are you waiting for?

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you tell a real estate agent you chose someone else?

Unless you signed a contract agreeing to work with a real estate agent for a specific period of time, you can simply call, text or email your agent to let them know you’ve decided to work with someone else. This might feel like a difficult thing to do, but it’s the right step if your agent isn’t serving you with excellence. If you did sign an agreement, try explaining why you want to switch agents and see if they’re willing to do the right thing and release you from the contract early.

How do you fire a real estate agent?

Simply contact the agent to explain you no longer wish to work with them. If you signed a contract agreeing to work with the agent for a specific period of time, try explaining why you aren’t satisfied with the relationship. Your agent might be willing to break the agreement early to maintain a good reputation.

How do you know if a real estate agent is good?

There are a few important marks of a good real estate agent. Quality agents have at least two years of full-time experience, familiarity with your local market, a track record of closing a high volume of homes, and good communication skills. If an agent hits all of those marks, there’s a good chance you’ve stumbled on a great pro!

What if I’m unhappy with my real estate agent?

If you’re unhappy with your real estate agent, you’ll want to have a polite but firm conversation with them and explain all of the reasons you aren’t satisfied. If time passes and they haven’t addressed the problems you identified, it’s probably time to find a new agent.