If you’re looking for tips on how to find a real estate agent you can trust, this is the article for you.
When selling your property, it’s easier to let a licensed professional help you with that instead of doing it on your own (e.g. sell by the owner). This is when a real estate agent comes into the picture.
In this article, two similar terms will be used, so first, the two definitions will be presented to differentiate the two. In the rest of the article, the focus will be on the importance of finding a good, trustworthy real estate agent (or Realtor), and how to find them.
Firstly, let’s define what a real estate agent is.
A real estate agent is a licensed professional in charge of all transactions regarding real estate, usually selling (or renting) real estate. In a way, they bring buyers and sellers together by being the negotiator in between the two parties, and they take a certain percentage of the finished deal as compensation for their services.
Similarly, to a real estate agent, a Realtor is also licensed to help their clients buy, sell, or rent a home. The term ‘Realtor’ is more commonly used in the US, while the term ‘real estate agent’ is commonly used by the commonwealth. A Realtor is a real estate professional who is also affiliated with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) of the US.
The two terms are commonly mixed, yet they are quite different on the qualification scale, but they essentially play a similar role.
Trust and Realtors
As mentioned above, there’s quite a difference between real estate agents and realtors. While any 18-year-old or older native citizen who’d passed all of the relevant exams can become a real estate agent (or Realtor), another critical step is necessary to become a successful one.
Only the realtors who don’t have any trace of an unprofessional conduct on their resume, and aren’t on the verge of bankruptcy, can become privileged relators. Only such individuals may join the National Association of Realtors, and to maintain such privilege, must pay an application fee as well as a monthly fee.
What’s relevant for this article, and even more so relevant for you to know, is the existence of NAR’s Code of Ethics. This code makes relators work only in utmost transparency and only keeping their client’s best interests on their mind during the whole transaction process.
There is no such thing for real estate agents in some countries, which makes them less trustworthy than relators. However, remember, real estate agents in Australia are abode by the Code of Conduct of the Real Estate Institute of Australia, so they are expected to be trustworthy.
Not to forget, however, both realtors and real estate agents are in the run for commissions. Some of them may play games and lie time to time to close a deal in such context. This is where at least one party (buyer, seller, or both) can get disadvantaged in the real estate transaction.
This, however, doesn’t mean that every real estate agent will scam you.
In conclusion, it’s always more prudent to hire a reputable Realtor.
Let’s answer the next logical question you might be asking yourself right now. Can you trust a real estate agent?
Can You Trust a Real Estate Agent?
Real estate agents have a long tradition of being classified as one of the least honest and ethical professions. The 2021 Roy Morgan Image of Professions Survey places them at the very bottom of the list, only slightly better than Advertising People and Car salesmen.
We’ve started off on a pessimistic note, but, once again, this does not mean that every real estate agent is going to scam you. Just like there’s no definitive guarantee that absolutely every Realtor is going to work in your best interest.
Every circumstance depends on the individual you’re working with, and it’s important to know how to recognize the clues you might not be working with the most trustworthy professional. More about that in the continuation of the article…
Now we’ll talk about the potential red flags to recognize one that’s not to be trusted, and steps to take before you even hire an untrustworthy one.
Red Flags for Poor Trustworthiness in a Realtor
When choosing a real estate agent to represent you in the whole property transaction, pay attention to the way they talk and explain themselves. The choice of words is important, as language has the peculiar problem of double meanings.
Some more details on finding a trustworthy real estate agent can be found in the next paragraph, but now let’s reveal some common red flags to look out for in a real estate agent.
- Their negotiating and leadership skills aren’t on a high level.
These two traits should be the main traits to look for in your real estate agent. So, an agent not having them is a huge red flag that you might not want to hire them to help you sell your house. Find someone better.
- The agent isn’t experienced working with properties of your price range or that type of property.
Different types of agents specialize in different types of houses, from condos to expensive mansions. You need to find an agent who specializes in the type of property you’re trying to sell.
- The agent isn’t familiar with real estate going-ons in your neighborhood.
Your real estate agent should check your area and compare your home to the others around so a fair price point could be set.
If your real estate agent isn’t familiar with your neighborhood, and isn’t willing to put in the effort to research, drop them.
- The individual is only a part-time real estate agent.
No matter if you’re buying or selling a property, you want your agent to be familiar with the market and follow it daily. Only a full-time real estate agent can do that.
- The agent suggests a higher listing price or charges low commissions.
The higher the price point at the beginning, the less likely it is that the property will sell, and the longer it stays on the market, the bigger are the chances that the potential buyers will think something’s wrong with the house.
And, if the commission is too low, fewer agents will show it.
How to Check and Confirm if The Realtor is Trustworthy?
Now that you know about the red flags to look out for, let’s try to prevent you from even having to look out for them.
You can only recognize these red flags after you hire a real estate agent and only after you’ve started working with them. However, there’s no need to waste time on hiring the wrong person when you can avoid that in the first place just by doing a little research.
Here are a couple of ways to find a trustworthy real estate agent.
- Background check
As mentioned before, it’s always better to hire an experienced Realtor as they are likely to stick to a certain code of conduct. If the person you’re thinking of hiring is presenting themselves as a Realtor, check if they’re a member of the National Association of Realtors.
That’s a good place to start your shortlist!
Your real estate agent or Realtor should have a valid license proving their expertise. Always ask for those, and make sure that they’re legally obtained and legally valid.
- Years of experience
Ask your real estate agent how long they’ve been in the business for, and if they’re reluctant to reply, or even flat-out deny replying, don’t hire them.
You want someone experienced, available, approachable and honest. Not someone who is only a part-time, possibly lazy agent.
Before hiring an agent, it’s advised to do online research on them.
In the twenty-first century, every agent that tries to stay up-to-date with what’s new in the industry has some form of social media. Check their replies regarding questions left to them, check reviews from their former customers.
You can find out a lot about someone from their online presence.
What Should You and Shouldn’t Say to a Realtor When You Sell?
Like with everyone else in your life, proper communication with your real estate agent is important. While being honest and open with them is a good idea, there are also some things you probably should be quiet about when speaking to them.
Things to research about your agent, or personally ask them have been elaborated in the previous section. So, now let’s focus on 3 things you should never say to your real estate agent.
- The lowest you’re willing to take for your home
When discussing prices, the lowest offer you’d take for your home should be left out of the conversation, as the agent would shoot for that price above any other.
It’s in your best interest to sell your home for what it’s worth, while it’s in theirs to sell it in a short period of time. Remember, regardless of the price it is sold, the commission the agent receives pretty much the same.
- Personal information
Whereas you’ll be required to share some of your personal information with your real estate agent, some sensitive topics should best be avoided.
These include personal information irrelevant to the sale, such as divorce or childbirth, but also financial information that could be taken advantage of by an untrustworthy agent.
- Property details you’re not required to share by law
You’ll probably need to share all about the condition of your home, though some details are better left undisclosed. Maybe a relative died in that home, maybe the police had to visit your home more times than you’d like…etc. You’re not required to share all of these topics, and it’s for the best if you didn’t.
When Realtors Usually Lie During a Property Sales Process?
It’s helpful to you personally to hire a real estate agent when selling your property. They can be considered somewhat of a bridge between you as a seller and the potential buyer.
It’s also important to keep in mind that real estate agents only and exclusively get paid if the house is sold. For that reason, they will be more likely to lie on that aspect of the sale.
They benefit the most when they sell as many houses in as little time, so they will oftentimes try to convince you to lower your price point or accept the first offer.
Though, at the very beginning, their story will be different. They might say something along the lines of: “The more you get from the house, the more I get as well, so we basically want the same thing.” As already stated, it’s more profitable for them to sell more slightly cheaper houses (closer to the median price of the market) than one expensive.
However, that story might change once you actually get an offer on the house. They might urge you to accept the first offer or urge you not to counter offer too high not to scare the buyer.
These are all tactics to have the deal closed sooner so they could move onto the next seller and close another deal.
How to Find a Real Estate Agent You Can Trust?
You should always start off with research. Find real estate agents that you think might be ideal for you and make a list.
Then, return to research. Do the background check, make sure they are who they want you to think they are, read reviews and such.
Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions, especially about their expertise. This is, of course, easiest during a face-to-face conversation when you can also read a lot about their character from their body language and facial expressions. There are some examples of questions you’re advised to ask the real estate agent you want to work with.
Choose the person, not necessarily their boast about work experience. This partnership should be pleasant for both of you, so make sure you share at least some kind of chemistry.
Our feelings about other people are rarely wrong, so if you have a bad feeling about someone after meets them, it’s probably true.
The traits of a good real estate agent have already been mentioned earlier in the article, and they’re the ones you’d want to recognize in your agent.
Look for passion, honesty, professionalism. Are they easy to communicate with, are they a good leader, do they understand you? Or rather, do they seem like they might be disorganized, do they radiate risk, can you find any core values that you disagree with?
Those are all questions to ask yourself when choosing a real estate agent.
To summarize, finding a real estate agent or a Realtor whom you can trust is the key ingredient to having a stress-free transaction, be it when buying a house, or selling one.
Real estate agents and realtors who are registered in local professional organization/body are more likely to be transparent and ethical. Yet, it doesn’t mean other real estate agents should be avoided at all costs.
Despite being one of the least beloved professionals for a long line of years, real estate agents continue improving and developing. However, there will always be some bad apples in any profession. In the article, we’ve identified some of the most common red flags as well as ways to identify untrustworthy realtors and real estate agents.
We’ve explored things you should ask your potential real estate agent as well as things you should by no means tell them, and finally, we’ve covered in detail how to find a trustworthy real estate agent. Here is all the relevant information you might need, but if you’re curious about more detail on a certain topic, make sure to research further on your own or leave a question below for us to answer.
Choosing a real estate agent to fit your needs and wants is all about research, so there’s never too much of it.