A real-estate agent should be honest, reliable, and serve your best interests. However, some agents might employ questionable tactics to maximize their profit, such as misleading clients about a property’s value or charging unexpected fees.
The quality of your real-estate agent can make or break your experience buying or selling a home, which is why Insider spoke with three experts in the field to determine red flags both buyers and sellers should look out for.
Ran Biderman, strategic coaching advisor at Real Estate Bees, recommends staying away from agents who put unnecessary pressure on you.
“If you come across an agent who resorts to high-pressure tactics, attempting to rush you into making decisions without allowing ample time for thoughtful consideration or consultation with others, it may indicate an unethical approach,” Biderman said. “It’s important to be wary of such behavior and ensure that your agent respects your need for thorough evaluation and informed decision-making.”
David Bitton, the co-founder and CMO at DoorLoop, a property-management software, echoed this sentiment.
If your agent “persuade[s] you to make decisions more quickly than you’re comfortable with” or tries to push you to “accept terms you might not fully comprehend or approve of,” you should consider that a red flag, Bitton said.
Specifically, he said, you should be skeptical of agents who urge you to make impulse decisions about buying outside your budget, or who use urgent language — like saying the home will be pulled off the market or that there are other buyers ready to make offers.
“They might use this as leverage to push you into deciding hastily without carefully weighing your options,” Bitton said.
Biderman told Insider that buyers and sellers should be wary of agents who appear to lack knowledge of the market.
“For a real-estate agent to be considered competent, they should possess an extensive knowledge of the local market, encompassing recent sales, pricing trends, and neighborhood information,” Biderman said.
“If your agent appears uninformed or incapable of providing fundamental details about properties or the prevailing market conditions, it could suggest a deficiency in expertise or professionalism,” he continued.
“Real-estate agents have a fiduciary duty to prioritize their clients’ best interests,” Biderman said.
If your agent is representing both the buyer and the seller, he said, “it can give rise to concerns regarding divided loyalties and potential conflicts of interest. It is crucial to have an agent who is solely committed to safeguarding your interests throughout the process,” he continued.
Theresa Raymond, the principal broker and owner of TN Smoky Mtn Realty, agreed.
An agent representing both the buyer and the seller should be avoided at all costs, “no matter how trustworthy, experienced, and honest they are,” she told Insider. “In truth, it is the responsibility of the seller’s agent to maximize the seller’s return on investment. A buyer’s representative should be willing to bargain for the lowest fair price possible. A dual agent, by definition, can’t be acting in anyone’s best interest.”
Raymond warned buyers and sellers of working with part-time agents.
“If you’re in the market to purchase or sell, it’s important to work with an agent that stays abreast of the industry on a regular basis,” she said.
“A buyer’s agent’s speed in showing off newly listed houses is a must. As a seller, your real-estate agent’s availability to show your home to interested parties should be unbroken,” she continued.
“It’s a warning sign if the agent declines to disclose or is evasive about their commission rate,” Bitton said.
“The commission paid to the real-estate agent is often a portion of the property’s sales price. They should be able to disclose this upfront,” he continued.
An agent who isn’t upfront about additional fees, which can include marketing expenses or early termination penalties, is not someone you should work with, he said.
“It’s crucial to inquire upfront to avoid unpleasant surprises as you proceed,” he said.