Reasonable Expectations from an Agent

11 Replies

I've got a question for you agents.  It's basically, what are reasonable expectations I can have of my agent?  Allow me an anecdote to specify.  I plan to move to a different city (1hr away) soon.  My approach is to purchase a fixer upper with cash, live in it while I fix it up, refi, move and rent it out (blrrr).  With this in mind, I ask my current agent if he knows any investor friendly agents in the area in which I'll be moving.  He sets me up and I have a meeting with a veteran agent who's worked with investors a lot and has done a little bit herself.  She seems sharp, organized, and still hungry.  

A few days after the meeting I give her a list of a couple houses I'd like to see, but she replies to my email and says she's on her way out of state to a cousins funeral and asks if it's ok if her colleague can show the properties in her absence.  Of course it's fine, I reply.  I then talk to this colleague who, it seems, has been given no information about me, my plans/situation, financing, etc...  and I get the distinct impression on the phone that she's not a 'substitute' agent, rather a replacement. A couple days later, Saturday, I get a dotloop doc to sign... a new exclusive buyers agreement. Whatever, I'll play along for now.

Sunday afternoon my wife and I drive the hour to see 3 properties.  The agent acts scared and says things like "I don't go into abandoned or vacant houses especially when the power is off."  We definitely needed a flashlight and she's freaking out a little, not tons, but a little.  

One of the first questions she asks us is, "so is this what yall do?"  I began to wrack my brain trying to imagine a scenario where that question is SOMEthing other than the obvious.  She had no idea what/why we were looking at these houses.  Throughout the first house she was asking us all kinds of questions too.  I can't for the life of me remember exactly what they all were, but they blew my mind.  In my opinion, no one calling themselves a real estate agent should be asking me 'whats that?' when the answer is 'mold.' 

After the showings (and throughout) she was definitely under the impression that she was our for-reals agent.  

I'm a new investor, I get that. And I can even understand not giving me your best agent because I've got no track record and statistically I will waste yours time for weeks/months then just disappear, never to be heard from again.  But what is this bait/switch hand off thing? Is this common practice?  Am I a jerk or something? oh, and please note: The last agent I had did the exact same thing. I had coffee planned with him, but he had to reschedule and sent a colleague in his place, and the colleague is who I got stuck with. 

I'm not very experienced in the REI field, but I have done quite a few things around the house over the years and I'm not stupid. I can hold my own in a REI conversation, I've listened to all the BP podcasts, I've attended many local meet-ups, and 2 of my 3 'best' friends are active investors. I can accept being given a new agent since I'm a new investor, but should I have to drag her along? What I want and need is an agent who knows more than me and is more experienced than me. Not necessarily a 40 yr veteran/expert, but someone who's at least been in the game for a little while. I need an agent who, when she says she'll get me comps tonight (on sunday) actually DOES that (it's tues eve and I still don't have them).

So I ask you agents, what are reasonable expectations in this scenario?  what advice do you have for me?


@Stephen Schoon , I'm an agent. I think your first call should be to the original agent you were sent to. Tell her about the new agency agreement you've been asked to sign, and ask her what's going on.

If she's trying to pass you off onto someone else without having the decency to tell you, that's shady and I wouldn't use her. But that doesn't mean you're obligated to use the agent she passed you off to.

Yes, many other agents will come to this thread and say that they don't want to waste their time with a newbie. That's their right and their choice, but there are agents out there who know what they're talking about and will help you out.

What is your price range vs how hot is the market? It's not reasonable to expect someone to make multiple ridiculously low offers in a hot market that have no chance of being accepted. 

Do you have funds to close? Do you have a down payment ready to deploy? Being able to prove to agents that you're serious will take you a lot further.

Visit our Marketplace and search for real estate agents in the city you're looking in. There are a lot of agents on our site.

Moderator note: If you're an agent in this area, DO NOT advertise yourself in this thread, your post will be removed.

@Mindy Jensen , I'm not lowballing properties. The ones on the mls that I'm looking at are distressed properties that are priced to sell and unless otherwise discussed and agreed upon, I would never ask an agent to blast out a slew of silly offers.  I have cash and am only looking at properties whose asking price is 10k below how much cash I have available. 

@Stephen Schoon I'd start by finding out if Agent #1 really did have a death in the family, she was really trying to pass you off to another agent, or if there was another explanation

I would be polite but frank with her, explaining that the agent who accompanied you seemed to have no idea of how to work with investors and that you need someone with appropriate experience.

I've learned the hard way that the only thing you get from leaping to conclusions is an occasional sprained ankle.  It's best to get the facts before acting.

If she really did try to dump you on someone else, I would move on to a different agency - presuming that you have not signed an exclusive agency agreement.

@Stephen Schoon , I hope my comments didn't sound accusatory. They were just questions. I've been in the forums for a long time, and many people will come here and say they are looking for an agent who will make 50 offers a day. If you're making 50 offers a day, you're blasting out lowball offers, trying to see if anyone is desperate enough to take one.

Did you ask the original agent about the handoff? 

Yeah,this is a messed up situation all around.She sold you to her trainee like a Thanksgiving Turkey for a huge slice of any potential commission which she is assuming will be few and far between,if any.You’re not a real investor to a veteran agent until you have pulled the trigger and made an agent some money,she didn’t want to deal with it.None of this should have happened the way you were treated and you should be filing a complaint with her broker of record to have this mess dealt with in a professional manner.

Not accusatory at all, @Mindy Jensen , just answering your questions as tersely as possible :)

I have not asked about either handoff.  The first one didn't bother me as much because he relatively competent, didn't seem hungry or a go-getter, but competent.  It's been a crazy busy week, but today seems to be slowing down and I plan to shoot the 2nd handoff original realtor an email.  

My gut reaction is/was to dump this agency and move one, but didn't want to pull the trigger till I found a suitable replacement. This Monday I attended a meet-up in the target area and found a few options.  So the ball is rolling again.

Thanks to all for the input thus far!

@Stephen Schoon Hi.  If I knew more specifics about your situation, I could be more helpful in determining if something went wrong. Like where is your cash coming from (is it from a pending lawsuit, lol)  and how long do you plan on renting the home out, how much is your cap on spending and is it in alignment with the market?  Are you hiring out for renovations, or completing yourself?  

If you plan on occupying the home, you are (generally) smart to live their for 2 years and get the tax free gain and sell, rather than renting.  Then you can use part of your tax free gain towards the down payment of your next investment and use the rest for renovations.  If you are willing to occupy your investments you have just multiplied your earnings.   If you don't know what I am talking about, let me know.   

You have gotten the investor brush off.   It is like being asked to have a cocktail, but not asked to join for dinner =)  I work with few investors (as do many Brokers), and I don't want to be working with Buyers that are competing for the same thing as my seasoned and faithful investors.  It could be that simple, that the Broker you discussed your needs with recognized a conflict of interest, so enlisted a Broker without investors to compete with.   

I am going to point something out that you may be overlooking.  Although I find this a bit embarrassing that an Agent didn't recognize mold, you don't need an agent to recognize mold (right??).  You need an agent who will drive an hour to show a house to you, be available weekends and weeknights, who will work next to you with no real promise of ever making a deal as you have no experience to share.   Experienced Brokers have investors at every corner.  Everyone wants to make money, and i want to make the most money for the buyer who is loyal, period.  I also answer my phone and texts on nights and weekends, and I want to offer this level of service for clients that make me money.       

My investors often involve me in every transaction they have, even if they have me buy at auction on their behalf and pay me a commission.  Why?  Because I make them money too.  It is a mutually beneficial relationship.  Sometimes they call me and tell me that they are involved in a deal and ask me for an opinion during their inspection period.  This could be a for sale by owner or an action property.  They ask me, knowing they will list it with me.  It is a smart way to do business with a Broker. 

Thanks for the reply @Kim Knox . You have a good point regarding an agent being knowing what mold is vs working hard for you and I agree with the idea. In answer to your questions: my cash comes from liquid savings and a HELOC. My price point is in the bottom third of the market, still well within the market range w/o lowballing. I'll be doing most of the rehab myself and hiring out what is beyond me or what I don't have time for. I don't have a definitive term for how long I'll hold the rental. In theory, I'll hold it till I die, but will sell it off for the right reasons.

My plan is to buy and hold, not flip so I'll live in the house only as long as I need or want to.

Will you be taking out a heloc loan on the home you will be purchasing, or is it secured by another property?  

I'm taking a heloc out on my current house, purchasing another house with it (and moving into it), selling my heloc'd house immediately and paying off both houses/debts and should have a bit of left over cash in hand.

@Stephen Schoon  I think you might get a lot more attention by an agent if you describe yourself as a regular purchaser(that is how I view you after you describe your goals, your willingness to occupy the house, and your expectations).  I would not pursue an "investor friendly" agent.  You might have notice that a lot of investors target new agents because they are able to abuse their time more easily.   If I were you, I would target an experienced agent, to guide you through making the best use of your money.   

You will be occupying the property, so this can open you up to purchase government owned foreclosures (first look purchases will be available to you). Be sure your heloc is approved and funds available to you at the time of making an offer to purchase. A lot of first look purchases (they give 15 days for owner occupied purchasers to make offers before the sale gets opened up for investors.) You will have a natural advantage on these property purchase types because a typical owner occupant purchaser is not purchasing for cash, more typically they are purchasing with an FHA loan, requiring a home be in good condition.

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