Am I impatient? Or, suggestions on how to work with agents?

35 Replies

I'm starting my search back up for buy and hold out of state rental properties. My goal is to have multiple.

It seems that I'll come across a property I'm interested in and I'll make contact with an agent (found through either Bigger Pockets, Zillow, Google reviews, etc.--there are a couple of cities I'm focusing in on). I'll reach out to them and we'll discuss. I'll mention the property and then I feel like it doesn't go anywhere--days stretch out and either I don't get concrete information about the property, their voicemail box is full, or I just don't hear back. And then I see the property status goes to "pending"...

I'm trying to build relationships out of state so I try to be loyal but, at what point, do you just move on? What is a normal cutoff time before going elsewhere? 24 hours? 48 hours? Days? Do I need to be more patient or work on presenting myself as more serious?

My finances are in order so we're good there. I know there's competition and I have a lower price point (ex: $60k-150k, depending on the type of property) but I've let the agent know that, if they have a transaction minimum, I'd make up the difference on their commission. I have also asked about a couple of for-sale-by-owner properties, and for these I've informed the agent that I'd pay their commission.

Any tips??

@Maya Gorski

I think you pretty much just have to hang in there...  It took me two solid years to find my Realtor when I started, and that was just looking around me since I don't have the apatite for long distance investing.

It might be tough with the market being still relatively busy that agents don't have time to keep up with you -- shame on them...  That being said, if their voicemail box is full or they don't get back to you, I'd move on.  They are obviously already too busy OR not sufficiently organized.  While you can always blame workload which comes and goes in this business, some of this is also a sign that the person isn't organized or diligent enough handle it.  Honestly, if you are having this much trouble, I'd go with a "shotgun" approach and call a bunch of agents and see who actually gets back to you...  Then, maybe you'll have the "reverse problem" :)

I don't know if this discussion thread will help you out at all:

I'd be happy to chat, just send me a direct message.  Good luck.

@Maya Gorski PM me because I'd like to ask you questions that are too personal for forum. Not a broker, lender, etc. just a fellow little fish that's talked to a lot of realtors and I've never remotely experienced what you've described. Cities must be very specific if you mean $60-$150k purchase price, that excludes huge swathes of the country.

@Maya Gorski

A few things that come to mind include:

We get sooo many spam calls from out-of-state that many Realtors I know don’t answer unknown callers.  Maybe leave a VM and/or send a text and/or email.  Don’t forget time changes if you’re calling New England at 9pm your time for example.

If you call and discuss a specific property without considering pursuing it, that may sound like you’re not serious about buying anything.  Be sure to frame it as ‘this is the type of property I am interested in’ and establish some criteria they can use.

Be sure to let them know you are financially qualified to buy.

Some Realtors will have little interest in serving investors for various reasons, but don't give up your hunt until you succeed!

@Maya Gorski


I found the same thing. I started looking at investment property and couldn't get anyone to move at any speed at all. So I got my real estate license and then my broker license and started a brokerage that focuses on speed and personal service. Having a realtor that owns their own properties and invests in real estate adds that level of knowledge that can only be had from owning property. I found the same issue with property management. No urgency and no effort to shop for good prices. So I found a set of reliable, fair priced contractors and I manage my own properties. I now own 3 properties and my son owns two.

@Maya Gorski there is no need to be loyal to those agents on Zillow!!!

I would recommend interviewing your own couple of agents in the market.

I can help line some up for you... I belong to EXP Realty fastest growing brokerage in the world. All I need is your preapproval and I can get 3 agents for you to interview.

I currently manage just under 200 doors and can give insight on things to ask agents to make sure they are equipped to help

Try focusing on one or two areas and ask for a realtor that works with investors.  Tell them you are serious and want to move quickly.  When you call to see about a place, give them a time and date when you want to look at it.  Don't leave it up to them.  Get the number of their office and if they don't return calls (within a reasonable amount of time-one business day), call back and tell them you will go with another realtor.

99% of out of the area buyers are not legit. Because of that I specifically as a business practice do not work with out of the area buyers at all. 

@Maya Gorski I notice most of the time when people are not getting the service they desire from agents on here, they're shopping lower price-point properties. Probably just a function of the commission not being attractive enough to justify the extra work of dealing with an unknown out of state buyer. At the high end of your price range, $150k, the total commission for a buyer's agent will be around $4,500, and they most likely get to keep around $3,000. Not too bad for a hungry young agent who doesn't have a lot going on, but probably not worth picking up the phone for an experienced, busy professional agent (too much opportunity cost when they could be spending their time working with a local buyer whom they know is solid instead, hopefully on a higher quality deal that will pay more for less work). On the low end, $60k= ~$1,700 total commission, ~$1k take home... not going to be worth it to most agents as that probably boils down to less than a live-able wage. You'll run into the same issue finding quality property management, contractors, and tenants in these lower price points as well, just part of operating in this asset class.

@Maya Gorski This will be more work but you will have to identify the property then find out who the listing agent is and contact them.  If they're going to get both sides of the commission they will work harder for you.  If you contact enough listing agents in that market one or 2 of them will realize you're serious & find you something.  This will take time but it takes a while to build a base in a new location.  Good luck

@Steve K. Or she can be the fox and the other side can be the hen.  Or the agent can do their job correctly and work for both sides equitably.  I've been the buyer side on a dual agency and those have been some of my best deals.  if you know your numbers and are willing to walk if you don't get them then you will be fine.

Originally posted by @Anthony Marin :

@Steve K. Or she can be the fox and the other side can be the hen.  Or the agent can do their job correctly and work for both sides equitably.  I've been the buyer side on a dual agency and those have been some of my best deals.  if you know your numbers and are willing to walk if you don't get them then you will be fine.

It can be a workable strategy for sure. But if she doesn't know the contract inside and out for the state she's looking in, and have boots on the ground she can trust to verify everything the seller and listing agent say, then she can also get screwed pretty easily. There's a reason dual agency is among the most litigated areas of real estate law, and is also illegal in many states. It's difficult to impossible for a listing agent who is already representing the seller to not have a conflict of interest by also representing the buyer. Not a strategy for beginners IMO. For the first several deals it's best to have a dedicated buyer's agent looking out for your best interests rather than the listing agent who just wants to sell the property.


@Maya Gorski, Don't be discouraged if agents are not paying much attention you now as an investor. The market is really hot now and agents know it. If you have time, get your real estate license, so you have access to the MLS and can put in a buy order as soon as properties that meet your criteria hit the MLS. You can also focus your time on finding off-market deals, too.

Make it very clear to the agent that you have researched their market and are only considering buying there. As an agent, it is tough to dedicate time to someone who you may think is researching multiple markets and could disappear at any moment.

It may also help to send a pre qual letter or proof of funds also if you haven't already . I am not doubting your finances are in order like you mentioned, but everyone says that as I am sure you can probably imagine. 

@Maya Gorski

Ask around more on the forum. I was using a couple different agents who were all just somewhat lazy and weren’t hungry to find deals. Some one on BO referred me to an agent they had used in my area and WOW!! The agent they referred is a go getter and on top of everything. We spent this entire weekend viewing properties. She even missed church for me lol

My point is, the right agent is out there and it just takes a little time. There’s always learning in every experience and right now you’re learning what NOT to look for in an agent. That’s equally as important. Stay focused and ask if anyone can refer you to someone they’ve done good with with before. But certainly don’t settle or get your hopes up. The right agent is out there!!

I'm an agent and work exclusively with out of state buyers. My market is highly competitive and when I do my initial consult, I can tell pretty quickly if the buyer has the constitution for it. I ALWAYS reply within 24 hours to every inquiry, usually much, much quicker. That said, if the buyer is insistent but isn't willing to make competitive offers, I usually refer them out to an agent with more time. 

The challenge with that is that agents with more time HAVE more time for a reason. They're not very successful. It's sort of a catch 22 for newer investors- high performing agents will only take the time with clients that have legitimate chances of completing a transaction. If you are talking to successful agents and they aren't replying to you, it may very well be because they don't think you stand a chance in their market. Not saying it's okay to ignore an inquiry, that's just plan rude. 

What markets are you looking at?

@Maya Gorski every agent should take care of you no matter what. For sale by owner, the agent can call the owner and ask them if they will pay their commission. Many for sale by owners will do that. If you request information through Zillow and that request is considered a lead and it goes out to many agents and you should get a call from either one or a couple agents. Hopefully they will help you which is what they should do. If you go on the RedFin site and you request information, those agents are held to a different standard and will take care of you.

@Maya Gorski i I would suggest letting them know what you’re looking for upfront (be detailed and specific) and your timeline when you plan to buy. Being upfront is a sign that someone is serious versus vague statements such as I’m looking to invest.

@Maya Gorski - Couple thoughts. First, your operational team (property management) is the difference between your long term success and failure in almost every market. Have you considered interviewing property managers or highly rated turnkey providers FIRST? I'm thinking like Memphis Investments, etc. Many of the most successful turnkey stories you'll hear from other investors are where they got lucky with the market and it appreciated significantly (think Atlanta, Texas, Jacksonville, Florida). Pick your PM, then use their team to buy from tired landlords or start making offers in that market and asking them to double check it's a good choice for you after you're under contract.

Second, all agents LOVE offers. So, tell us you want us to write some offers with inspection contingencies (ideally not super lowball, like no less than 80% of list price until you have a relationship) and we are less likely to get busy with something else. After your offer gets accepted and we go tour the house, bring in the inspector, etc., then you'll get a good picture of whether this is a good deal or not, and you back out or not. If you're just calling to ask about addresses and not telling me "Hey write an offer for 130k cash on this 150k property," then I wonder if you're legit or not. My favorite clients send me addresses that we then tour in person and they write a same day offer. My least favorite clients say "Hey, bring me a good deal."

Third, as you've heard before, the listing agent will usually talk to you about any property. So call them. However, I do not recommend using the listing agent as your representation if you are inexperienced in an area because you will likely overpay or get less repairs than you could have otherwise negotiated. Also, do not tell a seller's agent anything you don't want the seller to know. (Who needs to know you're out of state, etc.?) As a dual agent, the listing agent can't advocate for you hard like I do as a buyer's agent for my investors. We just got 10k off an as-is foreclosure listing by using hidden issues in the inspection report. Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

 It sounds like you don't have a good relationship with your agent.

I would definitely  focus on building a relationship with a good, investment focused agent.

Here are a few good questions to ask your potential new agent:

Do you own any rental properties. IF yes, how many, what kind? IF no, why not? What are the cap rates in the area? Do you have a relationship with any wholesalers in the area? Do you have relationships with any affordable contractors?
What is the best kind of property to buy for cashflow?

Perhaps you know the answers to some of these questions, but watch the agents answers closely, and if they don't practice what they preach, RUN