Your real estate agent can’t show more housing supply out of thin air or double your home’s value overnight. They should make you feel supported and well represented in a crazy market. If not, it might be time to cut the bridges.
This is not a decision to be taken lightly, but if you do, you certainly won’t run out of options. As of October, the National Association of Realtors, the largest real estate trading group, had 1,564,547 members, a 7% jump from the end of 2020. And many other realtors are not members of the NAR.
With all the competition, real estate agents are fighting tooth and nail for clients. âIt’s an industry that eats dogs,â says Jason Gelios, an agent for Community Choice Realty in southeast Michigan. Since there are so many agents to choose from, there is no reason to stick with your agent if you are unhappy with their service.
Here are five signs that it might be time to part ways with your agent, along with tips on how to execute a breakup.
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5 reasons to consider hiring a new real estate agent
1. Poor communication
In Gelios’ experience, poor communication is the most common reason buyers and sellers fire their agents. In today’s rapidly changing market – an average home sold in just 17 days in September, NAR Reports – Real-time communication is more important than ever, says Ari Harkov, associate broker at Manhattan real estate firm Brown Harris Stevens.
âThe speed and clarity with which your agent provides information is important,â Harkov says. “We live in an industry where everyone wants you to answer yesterday.”
A reasonable response time will depend on the circumstances. Most brokerage firms require agents to respond to new potential clients within 24 hours or even sooner. Once you’ve decided to work together, radio silence for more than a few days can be a breakup.
âIf it takes your agent several days to respond to your emails, phone calls or texts, that’s a valid reason to reject them,â says Kirsten Jordan, associate broker at Douglas Elliman real estate in New York.
A good agent will also tell you when they’ve lost their pocket for more than a day or two. If your listing agent is unavailable for an extended period of time, you can ask them to designate a colleague to handle incoming calls and visits in their absence.
2. Poor negotiation skills
The best real estate agents are seasoned negotiators. House hunters know this: in a recent NAR survey, eight in ten homebuyers said they rated negotiation skills as “very important” when choosing an agent.
Perhaps you have lost confidence in your agent’s negotiating skills. Maybe a deal failed because your agent negotiated badly with a seller or home buyer. Or maybe you are working with an agent who is just starting out and has not had the opportunity to cut his teeth on the negotiating side. Ultimately, if you don’t trust your agent’s ability to negotiate on your behalf, it’s time to find a new agent.
There is a caveat, however. âWe’re in a very strong seller’s market, which means you probably can’t negotiate 20% off the list price of a house,â Harkov explains. âYou have to understand the cards you are holding when assessing your agent’s negotiating skills. “
Is your agent late for appointments? Or, worse yet, completely missing dates? A reliable agent respects your time.
âI recently started working with a buyer whose ex-agent was an hour behind his first visit,â says Gelios. As he puts it: âThe delay is a lack of professionalism. “
4. Inadequate marketing
âA lot of agents fail to market a home,â Jordan laments. But for sellers, the lack of exposure of their SEO can be detrimental.
Your agent should do everything possible to market your property. This includes taking professional ad photos, posting sales signs, organizing open houses, connecting your property to your local multi-listing service, creating e-marketing campaigns. mail and promoting your home on social media. (Only half of real estate agents use social media to market ads, a new NAR survey find.)
A 3D tour can also make your listing more appealing to buyers, especially in the pandemic era where house hunters have become accustomed to seeing homes virtually. In reality, a recent survey found that nearly seven in 10 shoppers said they were so confident in 3D tours that they would buy a property blind.
5. A personality shock
Some people just don’t fit in. âBuying or selling a house is a very intimate transaction,â Harkov says. âYou should be working with an agent you like and trust. “
Gelios agrees. âI know agents who are very aggressive, and an aggressive personality is not compatible with a lot of buyers and sellers,â he says. âYour personality and that of your agent need to be in sync. “
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How to cut ties with your agent
Generally, it is easier for home buyers to change agents than for sellers.
When hiring an agent, most sellers sign an exclusive right to sell agreement, a legally binding contract. Contract which gives the agent the exclusive right to sell the house for a specific duration and compensation. Many agents ask for six-month exclusives, Jordan says, but the length of referral agreements can vary.
Some exclusive selling right agreements contain âexitâ clauses that allow sellers to terminate the contract earlier, but most agreements do not. Therefore, âsellers usually wait until their SEO contract expires before changing agents,â Jordan explains.
Buyers generally have more flexibility. Unless they have signed an exclusive representation agreement with an agent, they can change agents at any time. And in many cases, buyers who have signed an agency agreement can terminate it before it expires without penalty, Gelios explains.
Gelios suggests ending the relationship with respect. âThe old man ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ often works well,â he says. (Say, âI really appreciate all the effort you put in, but I’ve decided to go in a different direction.â)
If your agent refuses to let you terminate your agency contract sooner, Gelios recommends reporting the matter to their broker (aka boss). âMost of the time, the broker will force the agent to let the buyer go,â he says.
Every Saturday, Money’s real estate writer Sam Sharf delves into the world of real estate, offering a fresh take on the latest housing news for homeowners, buyers and dreamers.
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