How To Know If Your Real Estate Agent Is Taking Advantage Of You

Purchasing a new home is stressful for even the most seasoned of home buyers. The same goes for homeowners looking to sell their property in an effort to move on to a new home. No matter how many times you move, the process of searching for great properties, visiting houses of interest, and narrowing the choices down to one or two perfect properties is time-consuming and takes patience, an eye for detail, and a great partner in the form of a real estate agent.

For a first-time buyer, the real estate agent you work with will be responsible for one part of the transaction, but for existing owners looking for a change of scenery, this process might involve interactions with as many as four different real estate agents! Ensuring that the ones you select are working hard for your interests is crucial.

Working with a real estate agent is a great way to make key aspects of the process far less painful and convoluted (via Investopedia). But finding a professional to work with that can actually make the buying process (or selling components) simpler can be tough. Many who work in real estate pride themselves on their professionalism and will gladly go the extra mile for their clients, but there are some that cut corners, looking out for just their commission at the end of a successfully closed sale. Consider these aspects of a real estate agent's approach to make sense of your working relationship.

You can't reach your agent at key times

Real estate agents are people, just like yourself. There will be times when the agent you are working with is unreachable — for instance, in the evenings or over certain times on the weekend. Yet, a good real estate agent will make time to reach out to clients, acknowledging the needs of those they are working with. If you have a question at the end of the day on a Friday, you shouldn't expect an immediate response, but a surefire sign of a highly professional agent is a short acknowledgment of your query and a promise to look into the matter as soon as possible.

Alternatively, Rochester Real Estate Blog notes that a call or email on a Monday morning should never be left completely unanswered for more than a day or two at the absolute longest. If you are continuing to experience communication problems with your real estate agent then it might be time to find a new asset to help you finalize any deals you may have in the works.

Agents are typically available throughout the day and often into the evenings on many workdays (including some weekends). This is the nature of the real estate space, so connecting with your real estate agent in the middle of any workday should be simple.

A lack of experience can lead to trouble throughout the transaction

An experienced real estate agent is one that has finalized many home purchases or sales on behalf of their clients. The process of finding homes to view, putting in an offer, and eventually closing on a property is complicated and often immensely time-consuming. Real estate agents with lots of experience know how to navigate these phases of the transaction and overcome any hurdles that may arise along the way.

Time recommends that you always work with someone who has both a positive track record (and the resulting years of experience that comes along with it) and local area knowledge in the place that you are buying or selling a home. Real estate agents are an essential resource for a number of reasons, and one of these features is that the property market is governed by local events, politics, environments, styles, and trends. No two property markets are exactly alike, so a real estate agent must have experience, but this expertise is muted if it isn't based in the local area they are currently working within. Speaking with prospective agents about their background, history with the area, and more before hiring one to help you with your property needs is always the best approach.

A pushy real estate professional won't provide the service anyone is looking for

A real estate agent is supposed to be on your side when searching for the perfect home to move into. A professional in the industry will never try to give you reassurances that pan out to be false or misleading. Instead, consummate professionals in this industry work to provide you with a complete picture of your options, the market, and more — warts and all. Unbiased notes that agents can use a number of tactics to induce you to give away information, settle for something that isn't what you're strictly looking for, or accept terms that don't match your needs.

Real estate agents earn their salary by selling homes — the more a property sells for, the greater their cut will be. This incentivizes some real estate agents to cut corners and push you into something that might not fit your expectations and needs. It's understandable that real estate agents will be looking to facilitate quick sales on any home they are participating in, but a good agent can still act as your ally and friend while promoting their own bottom line. The best real estate agents in the business put the needs and desires of their clients first at all times. If your agent doesn't seem to be placing your interests above their own, there's a good chance you are working with someone who is taking advantage of you and your situation.

The agent doesn't listen to your needs or concerns

Just like a pushy real estate agent, one that isn't present for you is a real estate professional that's only out for their own interests and bottom line. Rochester Real Estate Blog notes that you — as the client — are the most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to buying or selling a piece of real estate.

If your real estate agent isn't listening to you during conversations about the house hunt or on strategy discussions for moving forward with selling a property, then you are likely working with someone who is taking advantage of you. Once again, your real estate agent is supposed to be fighting in your corner. This means that they are open and honest with you about the prospects of accomplishing whatever goals you've brought to the table. 

Likewise, these professionals, if working in your best interests, will seek to listen to you in excess. Understanding your needs helps a real estate agent perform their job to the best of their ability. An agent that wants to hear from you and maintains active communication with you is one that knows what you are looking for and can direct you toward better options on the market. 

Your agent makes you uncomfortable

Lastly, it's important to listen to your gut instincts. Inc. notes that recent Stanford research points out that instinctual reasoning in many aspects of routine life often beats out more analytical thinking when it comes to making positive decisions about life, happiness, and other themes. It's certainly not a good idea to simply judge a book by its cover, but the instinctual feeling that you get when interacting with a real estate agent can be a powerful internal mechanism for flushing out a potentially poisonous working relationship.

Rochester Real Estate Blog and Unbiased each suggest that some real estate agents will work clients for information about their financial circumstances in an effort to find targets for upselling — the practice of trying to inflate the eventual sale price artificially. Inducing a bidding war that wouldn't have occurred naturally, deflating the price to increase traffic in an effort to apply time-based pressure on interested buyers, or pressuring a buyer toward their own mortgage services are all significant issues in the home buying space (and may even constitute illegal activity).

Trusting your gut can help you make sense of whether the person you are working with is actually looking out for you. This is a potent detection tool when assessing the intent of others who are in a position to abuse their power, and one that you should trust.