Cara Ameer, a top-producing broker associate from Northeast Florida, writes about working with buyers and sellers, sticky situations and real estate marketing in her regular Inman column that publishes every other Wednesday.
Managing showings and scheduling appointments, providing and gathering showing feedback, navigating through a transaction from inspections, repairs, appraisal, loan approval, and getting to the closing table, there is a lot to keep track of.
Unfortunately, drama is alive and well in real estate transactions, and the most unusual and unheard of things have a way of cropping up.
Managing the buyer and seller requires 100 percent laser focus to ensure they are staying the course, doing what they should and aren’t going rogue.
In addition to managing buyers and sellers, the last thing anyone needs in this business are problem agents.
Low barriers to entry and improved market conditions have caused the number of real estate licensees to swell and the reality is not all agents are well-trained or truly prepared for what lies ahead.
At the same time, there are plenty of seasoned agents who continue to impart bad habits and have a disregard for protocol with each interaction — with no self-awareness or regard for the impact of their behavior.
Here are eight characteristics that could indicate that you’re working with a problem agent:
1. The over-explaining, bad showing agent
Showing instructions indicate “occupied/lockbox” or “call listing agent” with no other information provided.
When an attempt to make a showing appointment is made, the showing agent discovers that 24 hours’ notice is required, or there isn’t a lockbox and someone will have to meet them there, and the only time the listing agent is available is between X and Y time.
That may be fine if you are only showing one home, but you likely have 20-plus properties to show an out-of-town buyer and have already created a carefully choreographed itinerary that does not allow for a lot of shifting properties around.
Is it fair to the 10 other properties you’ve already scheduled that you rearrange everything because of special requirements that weren’t communicated?
Ditto for showing a property in which you were confirmed. If there’s a lockbox on the front door and the seller or listing agent opens the door for the showing with no prior notice, it sends a message that the seller or agent doesn’t trust the system and will be following you around the entire time “showing” and “explaining” everything whether you want to hear it or not.
They will keep you at the house longer than necessary, causing you to run late for your next several appointments.
You can’t quite get a word in edgewise the entire time to let them know you have a “hard stop” at X time because they keep going on and on.
What’s worse are pets you were unaware of storming the front door trying to get out as you arrive for the showing!
How to handle: Although it is nearly impossible to anticipate what the situation will be with a showing before making the appointment, contact the agent before setting up the appointment to find out what is involved with seeing the property.
Ask the agent if they or someone who assists them would be present, and also ask if there are pets on the property. And if so, request that they be removed or crated prior to the showing.
This way you will know what to expect ahead of time and can prepare your customers
2. The know-it-all
They make assumptive statements with no validation or substantiation for them whatsoever, such as “this offer is based on the attached comparables because the property would never appraise for more than that, etc.”
Despite their so called “expert” status, there is nothing but mistake after mistake in their handling of the documents in the transaction, such as an incomplete purchase agreement that doesn’t reflect all changes, incomplete wording or missing initials, etc.
They have no clue they are violating license law by offering what they consider “matter of fact” opinions on everything that they believe and have brainwashed their customer to believe as fact. As a result of doing so, they have created unrealistic expectations that cannot be met.
How to handle: This agent can be tough to handle because they’ve likely tainted the view of their customer, don’t want to look ill-informed and will try to save face in front of them.
Function from a position of actual facts and figures to help dispel misperceptions.
As hard as it can be, try to take a cooperative tone and emphasize that you want to help bring the transaction together and are there to assist.
3. The problem-creator
There are simply some agents who are part of the problem and never the solution.
They are not proactive whatsoever. When an issue arises in a transaction, they just drop it in the other agent’s lap to solve. They don’t try to troubleshoot together. This is especially apparent during repair situations.
The buyer’s agent ends up doing all the work trying to obtain estimates because the listing agent either can’t get anyone over to the house or doesn’t really have a roster of people to contact.
That might be the case with a newer agent but someone who has been in the business for awhile should know better.
When it comes to investigating a permit issue raised from a home inspection, while the listing agent is “looking into it,” the buyer’s agent has already run down all needed information from the county records and/or the municipality and has found out what needs to be done, etc.
In fact they have already called the appropriate experts to discuss next steps.
How to handle: Be the change you want to see in others.
The beauty of this situation is it allows you to step in and call on your roster of “go-tos” to make magic happen. If you know where to go to resolve an issue, then do it.
You will be relieved that the issue is being handled rather than stressing about whether the agent was able to reach anyone who was able to assist.
Not all agents are created equal, and in a sea of thousands, this is your way to distinguish yourself from the rest.
4. The no-response agent
This one is my favorite. The showing feedback request has literally been sent six times. You’ve double-checked the email address, and you’ve also called, texted and sent personal emails. Again, no response.
The listing agent and their seller are not worthy of providing a response as to how the showing went. After all, the showing agent doesn’t really remember the house anyway, and they didn’t think they had to respond to those things.
Or, if the listing agent is finally successful in getting feedback, it doesn’t tell them much — “They aren’t interested in the property.”
How to handle: Educate sellers at the time you are listing the property about the showing and feedback process, and explain how it works.
Go over how you will obtain showing feedback and the number of attempts that you will make, and by what means — phone, email and text. Everyone has their preferred modes of communication.
Explain that sometimes, no matter much follow-up ensues, that some agents may not respond to feedback at all and usually when a customer is interested, the agent will reach out right after a showing.
Continue to try to follow-up. Usually prefacing the request with “the seller is asking for some feedback — any insight you can provide would be greatly appreciated” results in getting some sort of response.
5. The entourage agent
The agent on the other side of the transaction wants every email about the transaction to go to a plethora of 10 people — assistants, assistants of assistants, transaction coordinators and coordinators of coordinators.
Why accomplish something with one or two people when you can have 10?
Talk about duplication and a plethora of extra emails cluttering up an already overloaded inbox. This actually becomes a burden on the other agent who is continually resending things to someone in this group who didn’t get it or can’t find it.
Multiple emails come from different people in the entourage about the same subject, just worded differently. The other agent is micromanaged to death about every aspect of the transaction by too many hands in the pot. It’s exhausting at every turn.
How to handle: Tell everyone involved in the transaction how you intend to communicate and what works best for you so that you don’t get multiple emails asking for the same thing from several different people.
Provide a contract timeline to the other agent upfront, and explain you will have each milestone calendared, and you or your assistant will be checking-in relative to each item as things progress.
While you cannot control the other agent and how many are involved on their side, you can take a stance against duplicative and unproductive processes.
6. The deal-killer
The offer is set up to fail from the start. It comes in so low with no reason for it other than it was what the buyer wanted to do. Despite that fact, the listing agent actually works to get a response from the buyer’s agent with a respectable counter. When it is relayed? Crickets. Not even an acknowledgement.
The listing agent follows up and follows up, but days go by and nothing. Nada. Not even an apology from the other agent that they weren’t able to get the buyer to respond or why don’t they just fess up to what really happened to them — they went MIA or they found another property.
Why did they bother to write an offer in the first place?
How to handle: When the offer is made, ask the agent submitting the offer for more information to ascertain where the buyer is coming from, what their situation is, etc.
This will help you in relaying it to the seller and also manage proper expectations that just because an offer is made does not mean that it results in negotiating to a mutually agreeable result and that sometimes, buyers are out there throwing darts, testing the market before they decide to get serious after losing out on multiple properties and not getting taken seriously, etc.
7. The no-notice agent
They schedule inspections, walkthroughs and other visits with little to no notice and practically no information as to who is coming or what is happening.
The agent does not feel they have to tell the listing agent what inspectors will come around. Shouldn’t the agent and seller have a right to know who will be crawling around the house for several hours?
How to handle: Rather than hope or assume the agent will do the right thing, communicate your expectations upfront how much notice will be required for any appointments to access the home and ask who will be in attendance including the name and company of the inspector.
8. The ghost
This is the agent that has another job and fades away for days at at time.
This kind of agent never responds to emails, texts and phone calls in a timely fashion. They do a pretty good job at concealing this from their customer and the agent on the other side in the transaction.
So much for timelines in a contract. If you are on the listing side, you won’t hear about any inspections until the day before the last day of the inspection period.
They don’t ask if it would be OK to do them at a particular day or time but just expect that it’s OK to show up at any time. They are typically out of contract at every milestone and getting information on the status of the party they represent is beyond frustrating, to say the least.
But, not to worry, because they work for a brokerage where you can’t reach anyone either: The alleged “broker of record” or sales manager is MIA. The corporate office is not in the same city where the transaction is taking place, and neither is the management. The disappearing agent views their role as largely to just show up and collect the check.
How to handle: Ask the other agent the best way to reach them, and if there are any preferred days or times for communication.
Explain or remind them that you will need to keep your customer informed, as well as all relevant parties, on the customer’s side of the deal. Provide a contract timeline and start copying their broker (if there is one, as well as your manager, on all emails.)
Inform your manager as to why you are taking this approach. See if the other agent’s broker can be of assistance in relaying and communicating information. Find out if they have an assistant or someone else that will be monitoring as things progress.
Although there isn’t always an easy solution to handling problem agents, and each situation is different, the diligent and competent agent on the other side needs to view this as an exercise in strengthening their “problem people skills” and know that what doesn’t kill them will truly make them stronger.
Eventually real estate karma will come around and the universe will pay it forward.