I was working in the office when the call came in.  “My real estate agent sucks”.  That’s the first words I heard from the person on the other end of the line.  Knowing that some real estate agents might not be all that great, I was interested to learn more.  I started asking questions.

Why Does Your Real Estate Agent Suck?

That was the first question I asked.  I thought it better to begin with this.  The woman on the other end of the line went into a story.

“Well, the first agent I had, we put an offer in for $40,000 on a foreclosure, and then there were two offers after I put mine in so we didn’t get that house.  Then we worked with another agent on a different house.  The seller wasn’t really wanting to sell so we offered him 50,000 and he accepted and I got all the inspections done and then he said he wouldn’t sell so I sued him for my escrow money and won but my agent was a family friend and doing us a favor but then they said that they didn’t want to get sued so I’m calling you.  I want to look at a house, it just went on the market and a friend of yours gave me your name as a good real estate agent.”

So, there’s a lot to unpack here.

  1. It looks like I’m the third agent this woman has gone through.
  2. No one likes to be involved in lawsuits
  3. What kind of properties was she trying to buy?
  4. Which friend of mine would send me this person?
  5. Could it be at all possible that the agents weren’t the problem?

I suspect that the vast majority of people think that real estate agents are always showing pretty houses and that we spend our time sipping mimosas and watching checks come our way.  Maybe that happens for some agents, but it hasn’t happened to me.

Let’s go through the list and work through the thought process I had when speaking to this potential new client.

  1. The third agent. I can definitely see someone working with more than one agent in a real estate transaction.  Sometimes, there isn’t a good fit between buyer and agent, or seller and agent.  On the buyer side, perhaps the client consistently makes offers that are too low, are unresponsive, or the buyer has unrealistic expectations for a property at a particular price point.  On the seller side, it usually comes down to a house listed for sale that doesn’t end up selling.
  2. Some people are litigious. I’m not someone who likes to constantly be involved in legal disputes. If my client or I have been wronged, perhaps the legal route is the only one possible, and while unfortunate, I certainly see a place for it.  There is a cumulative effect though.  When you’ve already had two other agents, and now you have the courts involved, there is reason to be skeptical working with this person as a real estate agent.
  3. A good house in a good part of town usually goes for more than 75,000. What’s up with these properties that this woman is trying to buy?  Sometimes, people think they find a deal on a property when it really isn’t a deal.  As an example, when you offer to buy a house that is a short sale, but the short sale price hasn’t been approved by the bank.  Part of the short sale process includes getting an offer to purchase.  You could spend months working on the deal only to have it fall apart when the bank doesn’t approve.  Second, based on seller commissions on these low numbers, a real estate agent is going to be losing money if they are required to do anything more than show a house and write a contract.  Some would argue that it’s OK to lose money working with one client because you would make money on a different client and it averages out.  That’s not usually the case, from experience.  You can actually position yourself as an agent where you are always the person people call when they are looking at low priced properties and they would never use you to buy or sell a house that would be one where you could make some money.
  4. Who is my friend sending me this client info? What did I do to them?  As a real estate agent who works primarily by referral, I’m usually thrilled to get a new client.  However, I sometimes wonder of some of my friends secretly want me to fail.  The friend that referred this person to me has been in real estate in the past.  They know about troublesome clients.  I suspect they thought it was funny.
  5. Is it possible that the real estate agents weren’t the problem here? The answer is yes.  Some people are in desperate situations and they do stupid things.  Buying a house that needs much more work than you can do on your own is one of those stupid things.  Writing offers and getting sued is another one.

It Wasn’t The Agents

Even after hearing this story, I still showed the client one house.  I did it because I’d not met the woman before in person and I wanted to get an understanding of what was going on.  When I work with clients, It’s important that I get to know them.  Turns out, she couldn’t qualify for a mortgage and she was just wasting everyone’s time.  There were other issues as well, but it isn’t worth writing about.  At the end of the day, she isn’t a good candidate to own a home at this time.