Let’s face it, a lot of real estate agents are kind of weird. I am a real estate agent and I definitely can see why Realtors conjure negative associations for many people. Some come off as pushy used car salesman-types, others are super loud/outgoing, and others are just socially awkward. Many others just don’t seem to know what they’re doing.
Recipe for Weirdness
Most real estate agents in traditional brokerage settings are independent contractors essentially operating their own small business. They don’t have “bosses” in the traditional sense. The managing broker’s main job (and I say this very broadly) usually is to make sure none of the agents are breaking the law. Anything on top of that is kind of extra. At a lot of brokerages, there is little guidance of what to do or how to do, including how to interact with customers.
Often times, it is just one single person (the agent) and maybe an assistant. For the most part, a lot of agents are responsible for being their own accounting, human resources, scheduling, paperwork, marketing, communications, event planning, lead generation and providing the actual service of real estate representation. I can go into a longer discussion of the psychology of real estate agents. But essentially all this plus numerous other factors, creates a lot awkward behavior. Couple that with customers not really knowing what to do or expect, the whole thing can be super awkward.
In my opinion, a major cause of this, is that everyone is trying to be “nice.” The customer doesn’t want to “bother” the agent with a question. And the agent doesn’t want to seem pushy by being direct.
Reduce the Awkwardness
Before you call or email an agent, even just to ask a simple question about a property you drove by, do the following:
Go online – If you just want to know how many bedrooms are in the house and you have literally zero intention of buying a house within the next year, you need to go online and get the info yourself. I know this sounds mean but think of it from the agent’s perspective. Contrary to what many people think, agent’s are responsible for generating 100% of their business. There isn’t usually a manager assigning clients to agents. So when you call for a simple question, it is that agent’s one chance to maybe snag a client. So if you’re not serious, don’t call or email.
Soul searching – Think about what it is about the selling or buying process that makes you feel like you. Why do you think you need a real estate agent? Maybe its cheesy but do some soul searching. This will help you ask questions and get the service and assistance you need. If you don’t know what you need out of this, than its all the more difficult for the agent to figure it out.
The real value and main reason to use a full service RE agent is for the guidance and counseling. Its kind of like getting a lawyer. If you were involved in a lawsuit and needed to appear in court, you could theoretically represent yourself. There is no law that says you must hire a lawyer. I’m sure many of us, given lots of time to thoroughly review legal documents can eventually figure it out. However, most people do not deal with legal briefs and court processes on a daily basis so this stuff is not top of mind.
Tips for Dealing with Agents
No Question is Too Small or Weird – If you don’t understand something or just need help, ask! Agents have literally and figuratively seen it all! Didn’t understand something in the contracts? Ask. Obviously your agent in working for your best interest. Also, agents are repositories of a lot of random information and contacts. Need to know where you can get free boxes for packing? Ask!
You Have Rights – If at anytime you feel uncomfortable or like you’re being pressured, know that you do have rights. Your agent has legal responsibilities to you. Unfortunately there are agents out there who are purposefully pushy and those that are just desperate (which comes out as pushy!). Know that the first time you meet an agent, you are not bound to them from this point on. Even after you have signed an agency agreement, there are still basic duties owed to you.
Interview Your Agent (like a job interview) – If you needed to hire someone at your work, you wouldn’t just call a random person and ask them to work for you, hiring them on the spot. Or you wouldn’t just read a pile of resumes and pick someone because they sound nice. You also wouldn’t hire you friend’s random cousin just because. You’d want to ask a few questions, etc. Do the same with agents.
You’re the Boss – Your agent is someone you have “hired” to help you with your transaction. If you don’t like the they way they are doing something, the way they handled something, how or when they communicate, assert yourself. Ignoring this can lead to problems in the transaction. Nip it in the bud early. Tell them what you want and need.