10 Red Flags of a real estate agent
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Red Flags of a SHITTY Real Estate Agent!

Have you ever met a real estate agent and thought, “What the fuck was that about”? – Of course, you have because everyone has!

I used to be a real estate agent, and I get pissed off when I hear about some of the bullshit stories that my friends tell me when they’ve dealt with one.

I will preface by saying, not all agents are bad. Like in every profession, there are a few bad apples. But thank God there are some good, honest agents out there doing their best for the community and if you find one, never let them go. Let’s face it, it’s a tough gig, but not everyone gives a shit. So here are my top 10 red flags of a shitty agent!

If you’re one of the red flag agents reading this article, pls sort your shit out. K tnx <3

Topics

  • Intro
  • Red Flags
  • Summary
  • References

#1 Ghosting – Find another Agent!

This isn’t Tinder. You’re trying to find a home to buy or rent, so why TF are you ghosting me?!

This is customer service 101. If you’ve ever emailed an agent and asked some questions about a property, only to have them reply 10 days later with “Sorry I was out of the office on holiday in Ibiza” – hmm that’s weird, didn’t get your ‘out of office message! Or better yet, they just don’t reply at all.

We all get busy, and it’s normal. Agents in this climate are flat out, so I can understand having a backlog in emails, but this is no excuse!

A simple acknowledgement is all that’s needed and, IDK, a bloody reply to your question…

This happens a LOT if you’re buying or renting a property. The demand is high right now and agents can afford to let people stay on ‘read’. It’s not good practice. HOWEVER, if you want a response, go to the open for inspection and meet them face to face or, contact another agent in the office!

As for selling a home – The shitty Agents are up your arse until they have your business but the minute you sign that exclusive contract, they drop you. This bullshit pisses me off. You’re paying this person to do a job. The bare minimum should be:

1. Giving you weekly updates on your property sale process- the number of buyers that came through with offers, the feedback, or anything to do with your sale.

2. Showing you the progress of other sales around your area and keeping you informed with the latest market trends.

3. Sell your house – duh.

Solution:

For buyers: Each agency is different but generally, you can buy a house from any agent in the office that they have on their books. So, if you know a good agent in that office that isn’t the “Listing Agent” that’s on the ad, call them and ask them to help you! When all else fails, be that Karen that brings it up to the manager and get your answers there!

For Sellers: Take the listing off them and bring it to another agency!

When all else fails: Take it to the Ombudsmen (consumer affairs) – they’ll put them through the fuckn ringer.

#2: Receiving dodgy answers to a question

Why don’t some agents have any idea about the house they’re trying to sell or lease? The basics of selling a house are knowing all the details of the property. Not guesstimating the size of the block, year the house was built, or generally agreeing with everything you’re saying.

“is this wall Blue” -Yes (insert meme of agent showing a house and them saying yes)

It’s dumb.

When you attend an open inspection, this is your time to ask all the questions you need to make an informed decision. An honest agent will simply say to you, “I’m not sure, but I can check that for you and let you know”. That’s fine! Although, back to my original point. They should know the details of the property! The owners will tell them. It’s a home they’ve either built themselves, or had for a long time.

Another one I can’t stand is not answering a question, or dancing around it. I’m not here to do the tango mate – just answer the question. It’s even easier for them to find the answer to a question when you email them because they can do some investigating and get you an answer. – Check out this article for ‘Questions to ask during an open for inspection’.

Solution:

– If you want a property, you don’t get to pick the agent representing it, unfortunately. The bright side is that you can ask for another agent in the office to help instead.

– This will put the shitty agent in the spotlight at the office when they didn’t reply to your email and now their colleague has the sale. How dumb does that look?

– This neat little website will give you some land info (usually this is included in the Section 32)- however, you can check it out here if you’ve not attended open for inspections as yet: https://www.land.vic.gov.au/property-and-parcel-search

Posting a review usually works too!

#3: False Advertising

Don’t you love it when you hop on realestate.com and see a house that looks promising then you turn up to the open and it’s not the same house? me too! I love wasting my time!

Without much explanation, you might know what I’m referring to.
If not here is an example:

When my partner moved out of her rental the agency listed the property for rent online. We jumped online to see what the owner had jacked the rent up (just being nosy) and we noticed something was off with the pictures…

The pictures

Our Pic
The Agents Pic
Floorplan - matches our pic
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Our Pic
The Agents Pic
Floorplan - matches our pic
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The biggest red flag here is the fact that before they’ve even opened their mouth to talk to you, they’re lying. This is unprofessional and honestly a waste of people’s time. If I turned up to this property expecting what was advertised and it didn’t look like that, I’d be pissed off. Pictures captivate you straight away and most of the time are the reason we attend the open, to see it IRL. What a let down.

Solution:
In VIC, we have consumer affairs looking after us for this kind of BS. According to their website, misleading or deceptive conduct includes advertisements and is described as:
Information providers may still be liable for publishing an advertisement that is misleading or deceptive. 


Now some exceptions apply to this rule if they can prove that they:

– are in the business of publishing or arranging for the publication of advertisements

– received the advertisement for publication in the ordinary course of this business; and

– did not know, and had no reason to suspect, that the advertisement was misleading or deceptive.

It’s fair to say that if you spot this happening online, it’s okay to be a Karen and report the shit out of it to consumer affairs. Part of our job as consumers is to keep the dodgy companies honest and looking out for the next poor prick that sees this joint and wastes their time.

#4: Overvaluing/undervaluing – Do your research!

I have to say, appraisals (fancy word for a valuation) are hard to determine for an agent. It takes research, time and experience. When they don’t have the experience, they can lean on their colleagues help out. So when I see a property posted for $700k in an area with an average house price of $900k, I’m instantly concerned.

In 2017 the Victorian Government added an amendment to the Estate Agents Act (1980) that targets underquoting. The change has made it harder for agents to underquote and forces them to do the research when it comes to doing an appraisal. If you’re viewing a house with an agent, they should be handing you a “Statement of information”– this form must be completed for all houses in Victoria that are being sold (at auction or private sale). It gets even better…

They also have to follow these guidelines when selling a home.

a) Have the statement on display at all open for inspections.

b) Include this statement with online advertising – I checked the first 10 properties on realestate.com and found that each property had the statement attached.

Before you attend an open, check this document out in the advertisement – they’ve hidden it right at the bottom below the descriptions. Almost needed a degree to see it.

c) Agents must give the statement to a prospective buyer within 2 business days of a request.

d) The Statement of Information must be in a Consumer Affairs approved format!

Basically this document outlines the following info:

– The median house value for the area – within a 2km radius – using CoreLogic (Real estate database).

– 3 comparable properties that are within a 2km radius for metro & 5km for regional VIC.

– The value and advertised price they are selling for. Must be a range e.g. $700,000 – $760,000 & the difference between the 2 prices shouldn’t be more than a 10% variance.

– There is one exception to listing 3 comparable properties, the agent if they can’t find data to support their valuation can sign the document to state that fewer than 3 properties were found within the 2km/5km radius in the last 6 months and believes their valuation to be accurate.

Solution:
If you believe that you’ve been underquoted on a property you’re trying to sell, do your research on the agent and your area. If you sign with an agent that you believe is under quoting you then you can report this to consumer affairs.

Agency’s have yearly audits completed on sold properties and audit the use of this document. If an Agent is found guilty of underquoting they can be fined and potentially have their license revoked! In saying this though, try and approach the agent first and give them an opportunity to correct it with you!

The Statement of Information is also an awesome indicator for your offer and what you should be looking at, so be on alert and make sure you read it!

Note: Some agents purposely undervalue the home to attract buyers and drive the price up. Super common in this dumb ass market.

#5: Defensive – Butthurt over everything

Some Agents get butthurt over everything. I don’t think you need me to give you examples of what this is. Put simply, they just don’t want to accept what you’re saying. They cut you off mid-sentence when you voice concerns, or if they don’t know an answer, they flip it back on you and paint a picture that you’re being unreasonable. What a massive gaslight.

Solution:

Renters: If you run into an agent like this at a rental inspection, I’d be thinking twice before renting out that property because they will end up being your property manager. If you’re not able to have your questions answered, imagine trying to get something fixed on the property!

I understand this market is tough as shit, and if you have no choice but to rent from this agency then it is what it is. At LEAST you have VCAT to hold them accountable. It costs between $60 – $100 to take them to VCAT, and if you need representation if it goes to the tribunal, you could qualify for legal aid.

Buyers: You can always buy the house from another agent in the agency and you can do this 1 of two ways.

1. Do your research on agents in that office and look at their reviews, do people say they’re good or bad? From there tell the defensive Agent you’re dealing with you want to buy from their colleague. No doubt this will make them feel a bit bad but they’ll either sort their shit out and start actually helping you or they’ll put you in touch with the other Agent.

2. Just end the convo as nicely as you can, then call the other Agent you’ve researched in the office and tell them you want to buy it.
In convos, there’s no need to get fired up and angry- try and pretend like you’re a mediator and negotiating the release of a hostage. That way they stay on your side and help you get the property. You can always leave a review of your experience after you buy the house!

Sellers: You guys are the only ones that can really run away from this BS. If they’re defensive in the first meeting or cut you off mid-sentence when you’re in your first discussion. Cut them loose. If you’ve already given them authority to sell here is a tip to get out of it:

Ask the agent to cancel the contract and 9/10 times they’ll usually agree and terminate the contract. If they don’t agree to mutually cancel the listing with you, then you can take it to the boss of the agency and ask them to cancel it. If they also refuse to cancel it and you don’t want to use another agent in the office to sell it then you might need a lawyer.

#6: Unethical practice – Channel your inner Karen, again.

Ever been told this hot little line – “You can just email me your offer, or tell me verbally and I’ll take it to the vendor”. 9.9/10 times, they aren’t taking it to the vendor. BY LAW agents are required to take any offers that are IN WRITING (this means you’ve signed a contract, that’s an actual offer) to the vendor. Even if you want to offer $1. (Check out this article on offers)! But if it’s not in a contract format, it means jack-shit.

The Estate Agents Act (Professional Conduct) Regulations 2018 layout the standard of conduct agents have to have with their clients – Consumer affairs outline this perfectly. Check out the full list here:

My favorite line in that act is this one:
“Provide all verbal and written offers to a client, unless instructed otherwise by a client in writing”
I’ve spoken to so many people about the refusal of verbal offers not being taken unless in a contract. So even if they say they will, they most likely don’t. Unless it’s to their benefit i.e. the property is overpriced and they are trying to get the advertised price lower. The only time it would be legit is if the vendor has told them they don’t want any verbal offers brought to them, only ones in writing.

Another ripper that shits me – After you give them a bad review they ask you to take it down and they’ll do a deal on the side to have you remove it.

Example:

You had a shit fight with an agent and posted a scathing review on google. The agent is now shitting themselves and wants you to take it down. What better way to make you do that than with $$$. So now you’re $500 richer but this A-hole continues to provide crap service to others while being out of pocket by $500. How dumb. Look I know $500 is $500, but imagine how crap the service will continue to be if you don’t put an end to it by refusing the offer.

Solution:

You’re going to get sick of me saying this but it’s once again, be a Karen. You can contact Consumer affairs or the agency office. Why? When you accept this money it’s not the agent that could be out of pocket, but the seller. You don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors, so keep that in mind when you’re accepting the $$. You’d never want to be in that position. At the end of the day, you might be compensated through the agent’s office in a more official way, rather than a scummy deal on the side.

#7: Pressure Tactics

This one is classic. Have you heard these sayings right before you buy/rent a house?

– “The owner wants contracts signed tonight – so we need to do the deal now.”

– “I have another offer coming in” (although wouldn’t be far from the truth in 2022’s market).

– “The owner isn’t looking for offers under the $X amount”.

– “Let me contact your broker/bank to see if we can get you pre-approval today for the offer”.

– “If you can’t afford this house that’s fine, we’ll look at a lower price range for you”

These are just a few examples of pressure tactics. I just want to stress this point. DON’T BUY SOMETHING BECAUSE YOU FEEL PRESSURE. This is the worst time to make a decision. It’s like when you go to a restaurant and you swear you’re not going to order the chicken parma, that you’ll “try something new”. It’s not dinner- there ARE other homes to buy, I promise you that. I’m a big believer in going with your gut. If it feels right, then go for it. If it doesn’t, listen to that instinct.

Solution:

Do your research on properties, talk to your broker & conveyancer after an open inspection, and let them help guide you on such a big financial decision. If the house was such hot property, why is it still on the market after 2 months?

Spend time getting to know what you’re buying- the section 32 is a great guide for this. It will tell you almost everything you need to know and should be shown to your conveyancer before you enter any contract (for any fees involved seek advice from your conveyancer).

Just saying – do you want to settle for the chicken parma when you could enjoy some tasty ribs?

#8: Overpromise and under deliver –

This is a pretty common one. I usually base this on the first interaction with an agent. They say “I’ll send you the section 32” and they don’t send it to you right after the inspection, or by the end of the next business day. That’s poor form.

That’s just a small example of what I mean, and agents do this with several things! Usually, phone calls, emails and anything customer service related. When you are an interested buyer, agents will put you into 1 of 2 categories:

Tyre Kicker – A buyer that isn’t looking to buy – they just want to waste an agent’s time by looking at house after house and never place an offer.

Qualified Buyer – This doesn’t mean you have a fuckn degree in buying a house. It’s someone who has pre-approved finance, has a timeline of purchasing, and knows what they want.

If agents put you into the tyre kicker pile, they’ll never help you. Even if you are a qualified buyer, this is usually their excuse to cut communication and tell you they can’t help you. It’s shit and you can’t do much about it. You’re better off looking for a house with another agency/agent.

Solution:

If you’re not getting the answers you want, nothing is stopping you from obtaining the information you want from the local council of the area you’re wanting to purchase in.

Let’s say you’re not getting a section 32 from the agent but you need it because you need to know if you can subdivide (basically build another property in the backyard). Before you place an offer you need to know that information. If you call the local council they’ll be able to tell you about the property!

#9: They get you & then they drop you

You sign up to sell your house, and then they don’t communicate. GHOSTED.

You buy a house, and after the contracts are signed, they don’t take you for a 2nd inspection or follow up with you until settlement.

Or, you lease out a property and they never help you out or pass messages onto the landlord to fix your heater. You’re left freezing your tits off in the middle of winter.

Solution:

In each scenario, there is BS attached to it. There isn’t a way to test before you sign a lease or buy a house if you’re dealing with this type of agent. What you CAN do is keep them accountable by calling them, or the office, and asking for information or updates!

Buying a house – This would just require you to get your best ballbusting boots on and start ringing/calling or going through the conveyancer or agency office to get a reply and timeline from the agent. You’d be surprised how often this happens. This is also due to each Agency having different standards and rules around customer service. A good agency will see it through to the end, while others will leave you in the dark until the commission cheque rolls in on Settlement day!

As far as selling your house – you would have seen 1 one or more of the red flags on this list already, so be careful who you sign with. It’s all rosy when they want your business, but the minute they have it -watch out.

For renters– VCAT is a good option to escalate matters. This would be the last resort after trying to contact the agent, including visiting the office. If you’re still not being looked after then you can take a more serious route. Surprisingly it’s not that expensive to claim with VCAT if it goes to tribunal. Here is some info if you’re reading this and are already at that point!

#10: Always late, not great.

Nothing says I don’t give a shit like rocking up late. You rock up to an open for inspection, the agent isn’t there, and you’re left there like a spare dick waiting to see the property. The amount of unnecessary anxiety this causes is ridiculous. You start asking yourself “Is this the right place”?. You check google maps, try to call the agent (they don’t answer) and rush around.

The same goes for appointments that you make with any agent. If they haven’t given you a courtesy call to say they’re running late, why should you wait around? Bad sign.

Solution:

This is standard BS 101.
Tip to sellers, before you invite, or interview, agents to sell your own home, check out how they conduct an open for an inspection. Look upLookup a property they’re selling and attend the open. This will tell you how well they perform and if you think they’re the right fit for you!

As far as buyers/renters who are left waiting outside of an open, call the agency office and ask if the open is still going ahead because no one is there. They will contact the agent and get back to you if they are running late, or if something has happened for the open to be closed suddenly.

After trying the above, if you really want to hold that agent accountable (if you think their reasoning is BS). Report it to their agency or drop a review online!

Summary

If you have an agent that is doing the complete opposite of these red flags, it’s safe to assume, you’ve got a good one! Don’t let them go! Give them business again I’d say. Because it’s rare AF that you find one like that!

There are so many mini red flags written into this article, but I think nearly all of us have had this type of experience at some point. Not sure? Just go to an open for inspection and try it out. The article “Questions to ask the agent during an open for inspection” will give you a really good idea if they’re a red flag you need to avoid.

Sometimes (in particular when you’re looking to buy or rent), you’re stuck with whatever agent comes with the house. It’s important to know that you can (and should) report these agents and get them on the right path. This is for their growth, and to hold them accountable to high standards. You can do this by calling the agency office, speaking to the director and giving them the feedback. Or if that hasn’t worked, head to your state’s government pages to complain. Outlined links below!

References

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