Real Estate Agents – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

businessman checklistThe Amazing Jonathan, a famous comedian/magician, once said, “There are three types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can’t.”  You may have to read it a couple of times before you catch the joke.  I believe real estate agents can be similarly categorized too.  I rank agents according to the title of a Clint Eastwood western.  I believe there are three types of agents in the world, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  You want the good agent, you should avoid the bad agent and you should live in fear of the ugly agent.

The Good

Good agents serve their customers.  They study your neighborhood to determine how your house compares with others for sale in your area.  They analyze market trends and use those trends to effectively price your house to put it ahead of the competition.  They also monitor the market to make sure that the price and your house’s features stay competitive.

Good agents know how to market your house to attract buyers.  They have a marketing plan that includes multiple sources of media such as magazines and newspaper ads, Internet sites, mail campaigns, e-mail campaigns, and flyers placed at the property, etc.

They stay informed and educated on all the new trends in real estate.  They take classes devoted to a specific specialization, or designation to become an expert in a particular subject or area such as buyer’s representation, first-time home buyers, short sales, etc.  The best agents want to learn new things and keep up-to-date with the latest trends and techniques.

Good agents network with specialists and craftsmen.  Not only do good agents offer advice about making needed or profitable repairs before selling your home, but they can also recommend contractors, tradesmen or other expertise needed to perform those repairs.  Besides repairs, they can also recommend appraisers, home inspectors, mortgage loan brokers, etc.  Every good agent should have a Rolodex filled with names and numbers of specialists and craftsmen that they have worked with before.  Because they have a previous working relationship with these contractors, they may be able to negotiate better rates and a faster completion date too.

Negotiations are where good Realtors really pay for themselves.  It’s always good to have an expert sitting on your side of the negotiation table.  Good agents find out what their client’s want and are willing to give away during an offer negotiation.  They can use this priority of goals to achieve the best possible deal because not every negotiation hinges solely on price.

Good agents also make the paperwork process flow smoothly.  They make sure that all the needed forms, surveys, disclosures, contracts and addenda are submitted to the buyer, seller, loan officer, and title company on time.  They make sure that all deadlines and requirements are met so the sale completes smoothly and efficiently.

Good agents are devoted professionals that make real estate their full-time job.  They are professional and work at serving their clients best interest  instead of just serving themselves.

The Bad

Unfortunately, these are the agents that ruin the industry’s reputation and make everyone think that Realtors are a waste of money and not needed.  Bad agents have this reputation because they are a waste of money, time, and the cause of much frustration and anxiety.  Bad agents are also the topic of conversation on many websites such as  Really Rotten Realty has gained popularity by exposing the negative aspects of the real estate industry by creating a parody of a fake real estate agency.  Every bad agent that knows about this site fears having their “rotten” tactics being revealed.  This site also collects real-world examples in the news too, just to backup what they’re trying to explain.

Bad agents never answer their phone after they get the listing.  Once the sign is planted in your front yard, you never hear from them again to get updates on how the listing is going.  Good luck trying to find out how much interest your house is getting.  Just try getting feedback from the showings.  This type of agent just can’t be bothered.

Bad agents do not offer advice.  Either they do not know it or don’t want to exhaust the time to look up an answer.  Or they are more worried about getting sued than they are about serving their client.  They do not help you find people to make repairs or even offer suggestions of what repairs could be made to get a better sales price.

When bad agents suggest a sales price for the house, they do not base the price on what the house is worth; they base the price on what you want to hear in order to give them the listing.  Only after your house sits unsold for a few months do they start offering realistic price suggestions.  By that time, you’re stuck with them and your house is getting stale, losing precious “days on market” time.

Bad agents spend more time marketing themselves instead of marketing their client’s houses.  They run full-page ads that feature their picture and surround it by postage stamp-sized pictures of their listings, including your house.  They treat their listings as nothing more than trophies that they use to get other listings, that can be used to get even more listings.  It’s only by the law of averages that any of their listings sell at all.

When a bad agent looks for a buyer for your home, their first priority is to find a buyer they represent so they can get the WHOLE commission, not just the listing commission, but the buyer’s commission too.  The whole 6%.  Some agents even delay marketing a house for a few weeks to give their own buyers a chance to see it first.  By keeping your house as a “pocket listing,” they limit your house’s exposure and narrow your chances of getting a variety of offers to choose from.

During the negotiations, a bad agent will push an offer just to make a sale.  They may try to pressure you to take a much lower price than you want just to close the sale and make their payday happen sooner.  At the negotiation table, they are only thinking about their own interests.  Also, if they represent both parties, a term knows as dual-agency, they are really representing neither party’s interest while getting paid twice as much for the disservice.

As a general rule, bad agents usually make fewer sales, have more canceled or expired listings, and usually settle for a lower than desired sales price.  However they have pretty marketing pictures of their team and have lots of listings to show off.  They are in the business of attracting listings, not selling houses.

The Ugly

The ugly agents are also known as “criminals.”  And their clients are usually referred to as “victims.”   Ugly agents are usually exposed by name in the media when they’re caught doing something fraudulent, unethical or just plain illegal.  They also leave a trail of victims behind that were cheated out of large sums of money.  These people are crooks first, and real estate agents second.  They try to bend the law, or completely break it, and they usually do it at your expense.  You can avoid these agents by doing an agent background check because their past dealings usually result in lawsuits and ethics violations.  We show you how to do a background check in Texas in the article titled “Realtor Interview Techniques That Get Results.”

If you are buying or selling a house and are looking to hire a successful real estate agent to help you through the process, take a look at AgentHarvest's list of top-ranking local Realtors in your area. We found these agents by examining their sales track records, awards, rankings, client testimonials and by conducting personal interviews.

This entry was posted in Hiring an Agent and tagged , by Bill Petrey, Realtor. Bookmark the permalink.

About Bill Petrey, Realtor

Bill Petrey, the CEO and Founder of AgentHarvest, has been written about in the Los Angeles Times, Inman News, AOL Real Estate, and Inman Next, among others. He founded AgentHarvest for the sole purpose of making the process of finding a good Realtor better and easier. Bill Petrey is an author and editor of both The AgentHarvest Blog, Real Examples of Really Rotten Realty Blog, and the creator of Really Rotten Realty.

19 thoughts on “Real Estate Agents – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

    • Bob:
      It’s our policy not to name agents in this blog. However, if you could share with us your experiences with her, I think that would be very beneficial. What in your opinion did she do that was either unprofessional, unethical or illegal?

      Thanks for sharing.

      Bill Petrey

    • XXXXXX XXXXX realty in Philadelphia is the worst ever, Mr. XXXXX represented me the buyer he represented the seller he talked me in to doing 203k and he also picked and represented the contractor Mr. XXXXX and friends did the work in poor quality. I was ill advised and prices kept changing with out explanations deadlines and meetings where changed without notice. Lastly there was a sewage problem that was disclosed to him by my neighbor before I bought the house but he did not disclose it to me and now I am paying the price because I get no response from him. Mr. XXXXX is unprofessional, unethical, and greedy. buying my first house was a nightmare. Beware of XXXXXX XXXXX realty #### XXX BLVD Philadelphia PA. also found at


      • Timmi:
        I’m sorry to hear about the problems you had with this agent. Our policy doesn’t allow naming the agent so that information has been removed from your post. However, we still want your story to be told so we’ve only removed the agent’s identity.

        There were several things you described that he did that was wrong. The biggest thing he did wrong was the failure to disclose all facts to the buyer. I mean REALLY BIG. I recommend that you contact your state’s real estate licensing board and report what happened. They may be able to help you recover some or all of your losses from the non-disclosure and they may also choose to file ethical violation charges against your agent. You may also want to contact a real estate contract lawyer and see what they recommend.

      • This is great example to watch out for. If you ever saw the sopranos when they ate the sports shop like cannibals, agents can be a lot like that. It’s easy to start out feeling like you are in their debt because you don’t know what you don’t know and they seem to have an answer fore everything. Next think you know, you’ve been rammed into a sale as if in a trance, stuck w/a house you overpaid for that is poor quality with all of their parasites continuing to feed off of you – i.e. let me get you my mortgage lender, landscaper, contractor, insurance guy, until you are leveraged to the above your gills. Best of luck to you. I’ve been there and done that.

  1. Realtor in Hillsdale, New Jersey stooped so low to delay a closing that she claimed my attorney had suffered a death in his family and could not handle my closing on the agreed date. Needless to say we closed on the appointed date and she could not bring herself to even look at me or my attorney at the closing.

    • That’s funny. Thanks for sharing. Important Realtor tip. If you’re going to use the death of a relative as an excuse, make sure it’s one of your relatives and not someone related to a member of the other party. Sometimes I feel compelled to help the bad Realtors too.

  2. Sellers broker was so hysterical And did not understand her own contract. Did not turn on utilities as specified in contract for inspections , refused to let people in for repairs, and called police on buyer just a few days before close as they tried to get inspections done and get utilities on, cannot fix stupid in Lewisville, Texas like _________.

  3. A leasing agent /property manager at a small Chicago firm approved a tenant to move in into my unit without an executed contract. I had instructed him in e-mails that this tenant could not move in and to relay that message, which he did not. I had to stop the move myself in by contacting the building management. While I was on the phone with the building management, he called my father (an emergency contact) and manipulated him to taking his side. He made no other efforts to contact the tenant or building management and blamed the mess on everyone else.

    On the day the lease was slated to begin, he e-mailed me a contract with 7-8 significant changes. I had approved the only the original generic contract. He stated that the changes were nothing. If the changes were nothing, why were they made at all?

    Additionally, he exaggerated incomes of all the rental applicants. The incomes on the application were inconsistent with the documents the rental applicants submitted He pushed for inappropriate tenants, such as one with a cat and one with a 10 month lease. (Pets and 10 month leases are prohibited in the building and can result in fines). He stated that cats were allowed in the building though they have been banned since 1986!

    He battled me on every decision that I made and represented the interests of the tenants, even when they had their own agent! He would not cooperate in allowing friends to stay in my vacated unit for 3 days. It took several e-mails and a certified letter to end the contract. He refused to drop off the keys with the building doorman and would not return the keys for 30 days. It was not until I hired a new company who helped in recovering the keys.

    • Do you own the building or just one or more units of the building? Are all units rentals or just individually owned? If the agent is your employee, I’d fire him based on the fact they didn’t do what you asked, and worked against your requests and interests. You’re probably screwed with the tenants he signed a contract with. However, if they fail to live up to their contract, your next manager can evict, or not renew when lease expires.

      If this is your building, and he is your employee, I’d also hire an independent auditor to look at all the accounting too. I wouldn’t trust anything this person did, especially money.

  4. My agent’s broker was arrested for soliciting sex from minors in a playground.
    Not making this up.

    • If this is that agent’s sponsoring broker, then all agents under that broker are going to have to scramble to find another broker to sponsor their license. Every agent has to be sponsored by a broker and no agent can practice real estate without either being a broker or being under a sponsoring broker. It’s a good system that enforces oversight.

  5. I talk to an agent from Fallbrook, CA., on 10/13/16, he tried to make me print & sign a lying contract. I never return the email or my signature to his real estate location.

    • I assume you mean a listing contract or a buyer’s representation contract. Yes, that’s standard. It explains his obligations to you and your obligations to pay him for those services. Until you sign a contract with him, you’re not his client. Think of it as you taking your car in to get repaired. The repairman tells you what’s wrong with your car and what it will cost to get repaired and asks you authorize the repairs. Same thing.

  6. I need help it is an emergency I am trying to buy a house and I am under contract suppose to close 12/6 and if it is up to the realtor (for owner) we will not get it do to the fact I called him out and then got a new realtor I am really scared this is my dream home and our retirement home and it has been a really big roller coaster the owner even has called me on different occasions to get my daughter to come see her do to the fact she would love to have the house (she hunted down our number and our realtor doesn’t know how she got it) please help me I have texted from him showing everything from this BAD realtor!!!!!!!

    • You and the homeowner need to stay out of it and let the agents and title company take care of the details. Just make sure you supply everything you’re asked to when you’re supposed to. And breathe. Relax. Just check in with your agent on the status and make sure they stay in touch with the title company. All parties are working to make this transaction happen and they’ve done this before many times I’m sure.

  7. What does one do in Florida when you suddenly discover you have hired one of the worst “Bad” realtors that fit this description like a glove and you’re stuck with him (her……….but this is a he)?? Everything mentioned here plus some more crap occurred!!

    • You can talk with their broker and let them know you’re not happy. Maybe he/she can fix the issues or find someone else to represent you. The broker may be willing to do that if he/she can keep it in house.

      You might also want to try to better manage the agent. It may be just communication issues. Hold him to deadlines and give him targets to hit.

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