Buying or selling a home is not an easy feat. The complexity of the market, your finances, and making deals are all difficult things to take into consideration. For those reasons, most people will hire a good real estate agent to help them with the process.

First-time buyers and sellers might not know where to begin. A quick search on Google or asking a friend or acquaintance for a recommendation should be enough to help you select the right real estate agent. However, finding a good real estate agent might take a little trial and error before you find the perfect one.

While it might take some time to find the right real estate agent, most signs of a bad real estate agent are easy to spot as long as you know what they are. Learn how to avoid these real estate agents and how you can start the process again if you’ve hired someone that gives you that overall “bad” feeling. Because if you hire the wrong agent, having to fire them can be tough once you have a signed agreement with them.

Check out the below video to learn how you can avoid hiring a bad real estate agent that will cost you both time and money!

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Warning Signs For Home Sellers


If you’re selling a home, you will have hired a listing agent (also known as a seller’s agent). Though some realtors may double as both, there are differences between a listing agent and a buying agent and they usually specialize in one or the other.

Listing agents typically have a good handle on their marketing skills and understand the necessary steps to make your home stand out in the crowd of online listings. They also do this with their ability to advise on staging your home for buyers to see themselves in it and pricing it for the best results. Generally, these are good reasons to use a real estate agent when selling your house.

However, if your real estate agent seems less-than-savvy in these areas, you are probably kicking yourself for not asking tough questions before selling with them. But once you are selliing with them be sure to stay alert for the following red flags of a bad real estate agent.

1. Too Many Listings and Not Enough Help

Real estate agents are essentially running their own business. Yes, they may technically be part of a group, but real estate agents often do it all on their own. Regardless of how many listings they have, they have to be responsive to each of their clients and be available for meetings and showings.

If you come across a real estate agent with a great reputation, that’s often a good sign, but be sure that your real estate agent isn’t spread too thin. Even the real estate agents with the best of intentions think they can take on more than they can. While they are likely to get around to every client they have, the attentiveness and quick response time might be lacking.

Too many listings can lead to several problems such as lack of availability for responses, consultations and showings. An real estate agent cannot be too busy to dedicate time to helping you sell your home. If they don’t make you a priority and lack a flexible schedule, you can easily miss out on making a sale.

Real estate agents who do have a team working with them can utilize these extra resources to balance out a busy schedule, they might have agents that specialize in working with buyers directly so that the listing agent is not spread to thin or they have rotating shifts to manage the workload efficiently and provide excellent customer service.

2. Lack of a Successful Sales History

An important thing to know about is an agent’s experience (which we’ll get into later), including their sales history. Real estate agents you want to work with will have a successful sales history. Many people searching for real estate agents when selling their homes wonder how they can identify an real estate agent’s sale success.

As most websites will show you the active listings of real estate agents, you can easily find those if they have some indication of a “my listings” section on their profile. However, learning about successful or unsuccessful sales history can be trickier.

You can always ask your real estate agent about their previous MLS listings and transactions, but they may not be honest with you. Be careful to look out for realtors who might be passing off the listings of another agent in their group as their own. Always read through the listings carefully to see who the selling agent is for the property.

3. Part-Time Listing Agent

If real estate isn’t their full-time job, an agent is likely to have less experience. While you might have empathy for those just getting started (since everyone needs to start somewhere, right?), it could still end up as a disaster for you.

A successful real estate agent needs to have plenty of contacts in the industry and be an expert in their field. Someone who is just starting or someone busy with another job will have trouble leading you down the right path. They could easily make mistakes with your sale if they file something incorrectly or have little to no negotiation experience.

If you are considering a part time real estate agent or new agent, you should definitely try to negotiate a lower commission.

4. Seems Like a Used Car Salesperson

Even though you might know a used car salesperson who is honest, friendly, and helpful, most of us are aware of the used car salesperson reputation. They’re known for being pushy, overly eager to make a sale, and try to force buyers into deals they are unsure about.

If your real estate agent seems more like a used car salesperson than a real estate agent, they are probably a bad real estate agent. You want your real estate agent to present you with a clear-cut goal and sales plan. They should also make you feel more comfortable that the sale of your home is in good hands.

They should not lack goals and try to convince you they know everything by using complicated real estate terms rather than speaking simply. Your real estate agent should also never pressure you into any decisions.

In your first consultation with a real estate agent, if you do not feel comfortable with their personality, approach to selling homes, or have a looming sense of doubt about their abilities, it’s best to look elsewhere.

5. Unprofessional Communication Skills

Unprofessional communication from a real estate agent can show itself in many ways. It can be as simple as spelling and grammatical errors in their messages to you or having poor communication skills altogether.

Is your real estate agent not returning your emails, calls, and texts? The right real estate agent will:

  • Ask you how you prefer them to communicate any updates, e.g., email, phone, text.
  • Always update you on the progress of your sale.
  • Get back to you within 24-48 hours of your inquiry.

When it comes to other forms of unprofessionalism, a bad real estate agent will do the following:

  • Show up late for any meetings or appointments.
  • Present themselves poorly, for example, turning up to meetings poorly groomed or poorly dressed.
  • Be too casual in their communication style (improper grammar or using slang in texts and emails, etc.)

6. Not a Good Negotiator

Your real estate agent should be able to make a good deal that benefits you. They should also have your best interests at heart and not allow buyers to offer too far below the asking price. Finding no success in a mutually beneficial sale price signifies that they are not handling negotiations well.

There are a few telltale signs of bad real estate agents that will do a poor job. Some of these signs include:

  • Being unsure of their abilities.
  • No leadership skills.
  • Not offering any guidance on the process.
  • Desperation for a sale
  • Being either too pushy or too hesitant

You deserve a real estate agent who will confidently advise you, so it’s best to avoid anyone who seems unsure of their plans.

7. Lack of Online Real Estate Marketing Skills

Marketing for real estate has come a long way. Accurate data and knowledge of good and bad marketing tactics for your house and neighborhood are necessary for selling a home. Your real estate agent should have done their research on these things and have a proven track record of success with online marketing for real estate.

A great real estate agent should have connections or know-how in other areas that go hand in hand with online marketing. For example, professional real estate photographs of the inside and outside of your home, staging your home to make it less personal and more neutral for buyers, and compelling descriptions of your home.

8. Lack Of Or Poor Online Profiles

If your potential or existing real estate agent has a lack of an online presence, it might indicate other issues later on. Maybe they’re updating their profile or are new to the industry. While there may be several reasons as to why a profile is missing, it might also indicate that they are not tech-savvy, think “Ok Boomer”.

But what if they have a profile, and you’re not quite sure if they really maintain it or put effort into marketing themselves online? It’s bad enough to have no website, but it could be even worse if their profile is full of warning signs. First, you might want to look into reviews left by fellow sellers. If you only see bad reviews or an overall negative rating amid mixed reviews, do not contact that bad real estate agent.

picture of a superhero real estate agent

Warning Signs For Home Buyers


Buyers’ agents have an equal number of skills as listing agents to be successful. Though this type of work may differ, these real estate agents must dedicate themselves to find homes that meet the buyer’s needs.

They should be organized, listen to the buyer’s needs, and have excellent problem-solving skills. Most importantly, a buyer’s agent needs to know about the construction of homes, insight into your desired neighborhood, and keep you in the loop about available listings.

9. You Are Not Searching In Their Primary Market

One of the first things to understand about buyers’ agents is that they are not wholly responsible for finding your home. They need to be the right fit for you, but you should also be the right fit for their market.

You will need to ask them questions regarding their specialty, such as:

  • How long they have been a real estate agent.
  • What their specialized neighborhoods are.
  • What their availability is and how busy their schedule might be.

Knowing how much experience your agent has is a must, and you’d like them to have at least two years of successfully helping home buyers. With that experience comes their specialty in particular areas, which is necessary for choosing the right real estate agent.

10. Currently Working With Too Many Buyers (or sellers)

Ideally, a real estate agent should know the limits of their schedule. It is not a good sign if their workload is too heavy, leading to them sorting out which buyers are more of a “priority” than you.

Someone working with too many buyers may also hope to do everything as quickly as possible and might not be working with your best interests at heart. If their goal is several quick purchases by buyers on their record as soon as possible, chances are these real estate agents overlooking several details, which takes us to the next warning sign.

11. Part-Time Buyers’ Agent

Part-time buyers’ agents aren’t necessarily all bad. If a part-time agent is dedicated and not juggling other jobs, all could go according to plan. Unfortunately, that is not often the case. Part-time buyers’ agents may be unavailable during critical times in your home buying process.

If they cannot respond to you during most hours of the day or are not available to look at new or popular homes as soon as possible, this can be an unfortunate sign that they are not right for you.

When the home of your dreams shows up suddenly on the market and you get that alert, or there are unexpected or sudden issues once you are in contract on a house, you will need a real estate agent you can easily reach.

12. Doesn’t Understand Real Estate Purchase Agreements

Homebuyers and sellers should both do their research concerning purchase agreements. The purchase agreement is the contract between the buyer and seller. Typically, the buyer will put forward their conditions while the seller may reject, accept, or negotiate with them on these terms and their offer price.

When both the buyers and sellers agree on the terms, they are under this binding contract. You can learn more about what these contracts include here. Your real estate agent should know the essential things to include in your purchase agreement, such as pricing, closing costs, dates, and conditions for the contract’s termination. You don’t want a seller to back out of a purchase agreement because your real estate agent didn’t know the correct protocol.

13. Showing Up Late or Missing Showing Appointments

We’ve all run late or had an emergency come up where we couldn’t make an appointment. However, if your real estate agent fails to show up or is late to every showing without giving you a heads up, it’s time to look for someone else.

Not only is it unprofessional, but being late to or missing showing appointments could cost you certain advantages when buying a home, and you won’t receive the necessary guidance from your real estate agent when they aren’t there.

14. Not Educating You on the Current Market

When working with buyers’ agents, you want to make sure that they have an excellent understanding of your ideal neighborhoods and price range. Agreeing to everything you say and then turning up with nothing is a red flag. If they do not share local real estate market information with you or avoid all questions, consider finding someone new.

15. Not Willing to Get You the Best Deal

Real estate agents lacking in experience and connections may be looking out for themselves more than for you. They might not have the confidence to negotiate the best deal and give in quickly to the seller’s demands.

Look out for bad real estate agents who offer you no strategy when house hunting or who seems only to have bad news after negotiations, leaving you with the worst terms of the purchase agreement.

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What To Do If You Have a Bad Real Estate Agent


Communication is key between real estate agents and buyers/sellers. The real estate agents should come prepared to ask questions about what you’re looking for in a home, your preferred way to communicate, expectations, and your time frame for buying or selling your home.

So what exactly can you do if you’ve already hired a real estate agent and you realize they’re not what you hoped?

If You Are Selling, Check Your Listing Agreement for a Way Out

It isn’t easy to break a contract, but it is possible. There is no one way to do it either. It all depends on your contract and your real estate agent and their broker. Sometimes you may be able to break your contract before they make certain conditions, but other real estate agents may not allow this. Always read your contract!

Other times, if you break the agreement, you may have to reimburse costs such as the price of marketing and advertising for your sale or even owe them a commission even if you sell FSBO or with another real estate agent. Every real estate contract is different, and you will have to discuss it with your real estate agent or the real estate broker.

If You Are Buying, Check Your Buyer Representation Agreement for a Way Out

Similar to sellers, buyers also need to check the agreement that they’ve signed. Be sure to review it and check the conditions, including how long the deal between you and the real estate agent lasts. You should also be sure to check if the contract between you and the real estate agent mentions monetary conditions, such as their commission when you buy a new home and in what conditions it would be due.

Discuss your discontent with them. You may be lucky, and the real estate agent will release you from the brokerage agreement.

picture of a superhero realtor

If You Are Still Interviewing Agents, Find a Better Agent!

If you’ve had a bad experience so far or would like to avoid one altogether, do not ignore the warning signs of a bad real estate agent. Make sure you find a real estate agent that is an expert in what you’re looking for and who gets along well with you. Do your research and find a better agent.


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