Realtor Isn't Being Helpful in Finding Properties

33 Replies

I have worked with a realtor on several deals over the past few years, including commercial properties. I told her that I am looking into flipping houses (all cash deals), and when she sends me the MLS listings she mixes in good properties with distressed ones. I have told her what I need. Either she doesn't know what fix 'n' flips are, or she is not willing to filter the properties.

Whose job is it to do that?  Should she send me whatever she finds in my area and then I need to calculate what the fixed-up values would be and see if it's a good deal, or is that her job?  In a hot market like Denver, her commissions for the purchase and sales is pretty high, and I would hope that that would be her job.  Am I wrong?  

Hey Bog,

You need to set expectations with her.  As an agent, she should be filtering the properties prior to sending to you.  At the very least just sending fixers so you can run the numbers.  Flips are tough right now due to the small margins (at least here in LA) but if she wants the continued business from you she needs to step up.

I hope this helps.  Good luck!


Smarter rental management
Outperform your peers by 71%
NestEgg landlords save $6,960/yr in fees & 20 hrs/mo*. Self-manage for free or go hands-off for $29.
Start now, get $500

@Bog Morgan realtors are NOT the place you go to find good deals. I have done about 500 flips in my market ( NOT SOLICITING ) using a realtor for maybe 10, about 8 years ago. 95% of them just send the same list out from MLS and do not have any knowledge about the props they are sending . Its ALL about your network

Good Luck 

Originally posted by @Bob Stevens :

@Rick Albert they all ( maybe some do not ) just type in what areas you want and you get lists daily of garbage. 

I agree, but that's why you need to set expectations.  For some clients I filter ahead of time, for others I send all so that they have a sense of the market.

It's like any other relationship in your network.  Connect with a great one and it will have a positive impact on your business.  It sounds like you might want to network a little more with other realtors, though.  An investor focused realtor should be able to dial in very specifically what you are looking for and be prepared to help you acquire those properties quickly.  A great realtor will even help manage a reno project if they know there is a sale on the back end too.

Talk to her and tell her you only want distressed properties and give her examples, so she knows what you do want and what you don't from the list she sends you.  You need to figure out the costs for repairs and you are going to have to do some of the work.  After reno value depends on what renos you do and the finishes.

I'm afraid my first thought is "you are wrong". No, it's not your Realtor's job to find you the fabulously, impossibly profitable deal you dream of. You're probably asking for a Purple Squirrel - it's an HR term referring to a company who wants an agency to find a candidate with such specific and uncommon traits as to be virtually non-existent. You no doubt asked her to find a property that is within your budget, that, after repairs, will make you lots of money. You expect her to find this diamond in the rough in an hot area, in an over-inflated market.

Purple squirrels not being found, she is just sending you every squirrel that comes across her path. If you seem to be a tire-kicker, rather than someone who will actually buy, she'll simply send you stuff, but not invest a ton of time and effort on a long shot. It is POSSIBLE she's trying to educate you. You might think a cosmetic-only repair 3/2 in a desirable neighborhood should cost $260k, while she's trying to show you that current prices are about $400k, and practically no price difference between sales prices of finest of 1980's mauve decor tract shack and the same house after a full HGTV rehab.

Originally posted by @Bog Morgan :

I am not a tire kicker.  So you're saying that if she includes properties that in no way would qualify for flipping, that's normal?

 Whats your criteria?  

For instance I can tell you exactly what price I will pay for a property in a particular neighborhood without even needing to see it. Are you able to say Ill pay $425k in Brentwood. Ill pay $450k in Brightwood. Ill pay $400k in Riggs Park. (I used neighborhood names from my market here). 

Or are you just like, Im looking for a flip with no specifics. 

Every flipper has a different criteria, because everyones access to funding is different, and everyones ability to get rehabs done at certain prices is different.  

You need to lay out specifically what price you are willing to pay in a certain neighborhood if you want someone to find that for you.

List, Screen, Lease, Get Paid, Manage.
No Better Place to Lease Your Place
Owners rely on the #1 rental site to get the best results from their rental properties.
Get Started Now

@Bog Morgan

It's your job to provide specific criteria, ask her to adjust the filter on listings she sends, and run numbers/analyze the properties. When you find one that you think may work ask her to setup a showing and walk it with her. Then get her opinion as to ARV and what's needed to reach it. Good luck 👍

@Bog Morgan

Sorry, your wrong.

An agent is 99% worthless finding flip properties off the MLS in this market. Everything with any marketing behind it is still overpriced. It's not a very reasonable expectation in this market IMHO. You need to become the wholesaler finding deals directly from the seller if you want the numbers to work. The agent can only work with the market they are given.

In the computing industry (I guess it's now trendy to refer as 'IT'), we have a term GIGO (garbage in garbage out).   This isn't a judgment on you or your realtor.  The two of you simply don't know what the other is doing from a lack of proper communication.   If they are otherwise a good person and you are simply frustrated with the data they are providing, grease the wheels of this information stream:

Take them out to lunch with the heads up that you need a 'business meeting'. Bring some samples of the output they've provided -- what was good for your needs and what doesn't work. Or invite yourself over to their office with a box of donuts or healthy snack tray and ask if you can sit shoulder-to-shoulder to see how her MLS software works, and what kinds of filter options you prefer. You'll get as good of information out of your sources (them and their database) as you ask. If you don't do much to improve your query, you'll get just as little back. It's easy to assume the other person is incompetent or uncaring when in fact we are usually just as much of the problem. So find a creative solution. Someday, it may pay off to go the extra mile with this agent.

Hey @Bog Morgan ! Just want to toss my opinion in here while most of it has already been brought up. As a realtor in the Denver market that does deal with flipper clients on a daily basis, there are ways to work with them as a Realtor. At the end of the day, you want to build a relationship that is beneficial for both of you. If you take care of your Realtor, they will take care of you. 

It is VERY tough to find flip deals on the MLS especially here in Denver, as everyone has pointed out, you are dealing with high competition and those sellers are dealing with commissions and other costs, so you will never get the perfect deal. Also, telling a RE Agent that you are looking for any deal in the Denver metro area is far too broad. It sounds like she set you up on an automated MLS email, and she is not hand-picking deals. Which as with any search you will be having to sort through properties, as even if there was a magical criteria you could click to sort out anything that isn't a flip opportunity, you are counting on listing agents to properly list their properties, which isn't always the case. So I agree you need to set expectations with them, but it's also important to understand what more an agent does for you other than just finding you a deal. We are not just sitting there searching for the property, that is honestly both party's job.

Also if they are working with other investors you need to find a way to make sure they send whatever deals they do come across to you and not another client. And this is why I say take care of your agent... In my instance, I still search wholesalers, off-market deals, the MLS, and other sources for deals, and when I do have a flip opportunity come up I will send them out. The issue with all the other sources of deals is that off-market, and wholesalers won't be paying a commission to the buyer's agent, so if we bring that deal to you, and you aren't willing to pay us a commission but you want us to represent you on the contract, you are basically asking us to work for free. Yes, you can "promise" to give us the listing on the back end, but that is not a guarantee for any agent. So if you want an agent who is truly scouring the earth for those deals, make sure to take care of them. If you offer to pay a commission (doesn't need to be full price) on the buyer's end and provide the listing, then that agent will be coming back to you for any properties they come across even if it's not an MLS listing. And then it will become a mutual relationship, where if you start doing multiple deals together, that agent will be happy to break their commission for you as it's a simple deal for them at that point, and they want to take care of you as well.

Just my opinion as an agent that does work with flippers, if you want your agent to do their best work for you, make sure you are the best client to work with. We do deal with a lot of wannabe flippers, unfortunately, just like we deal with a lot of wannabe investors, and hence why if you want to get into and start flipping, find an agent that has experience with it, and can accurately estimate repair costs, and ARV.

As I mentioned, I only do cash deals.  I guess I was wrong for assuming that the realtor would be expected to work harder for these transactions.  I thought $40K (net) or so per buy/sell cycle with repeat business would be attractive.  Apparently it's not that.

@Bog Morgan It is attractive for a realtor definitely, but the major thing is that there is no guarantee for the Realtor. Until that cycle has been completed we have no security unless you have signed an exclusive right to buy, and an exclusive right to list (which you wouldn't be able to unless there was a deal to list). And as I mentioned, if you are looking to flip, you are most likely going to have to go off-market in order to find the margins that you want. So we have even less security there, because now you as the buyer have to agree to pay us our commission, or else we are just hoping that you give us the listing on the end or we are working for free (which I don't know anyone that likes working for free). A lot can happen in the months during rehab, and maybe you never come back and provide that listing to us. 

And I don't mean to be rude or come off as stereotyping, but a reason agents don't like flippers is that unless the agent has a stake in the deal a lot of flippers are notorious for not being loyal. As long as you are providing buy-and-hold investors with solid deals, they will typically stay with you. But a flipper is looking at their bottom line, so if another agent pops in and says "hey, I'll list that property and all your other deals for 1%" what is securing us from you turning around and chasing that money. 

I totally do get where you are coming from and I know your reasoning, but in the end, it's the same thing as everything else. If the agent is doing a lot of business and has enough clients, you wanting special treatment and wanting to have deals handed to you isn't going to make them jump at the opportunity.  Sure you can say "well they would get a double commission isn't that worth it". But if they could bring 4 other deals together with other clients in less time and effort it took to find you your unicorn then that double commission isn't that attractive. I can also tell you that most of their other clients are thinking the same thing. So unless you are finding a way to differentiate yourself, you will probably be disappointed with it. We are also looking to make the deals happen, so like myself, I send all deals that I come across (flips or otherwise) out to my entire database of investors that I know will have a chance of picking them up. I do not tailor pick deals for clients (unless they have taken care of me) because you could choose to pass on it, and now it's too late for me to send it to someone else. 

It's kind of like going into a restaurant and telling your waitress, "Hey, if you only pay attention to me, I'll give you a 200% tip at the end" there isn't any guarantee for that waitress either. :) Just like to provide some insight on how your agent thinks as well, as at the end of the day we are running a business as well, and you are most likely not our only client looking for the same thing.

@Bog Morgan I’m currently at the point I’m starting to get referrals from networking. However the property I just placed under contract was referred to me but the Seller insisted on listing it with her agent friend to get her a commission even though this woman hasn’t been actively involved in home sales in over 3 years.

It’s turned into a bit of a headache with the listing agent not having the correct paperwork and my agent having to track it down, her taking advantage of my escalation clause, which I stood firm on my initial offer playing hardball on a correct guess that there actually were no other offers (Listing agent and seller got greedy).

My agent knows what deals to send to me. Sometimes he sends winners and sometimes the numbers don’t work but he tries. I also get the automatic emails and it doesn’t take that long to sift through them as they only have the new listings on them.

Talk with your agent and tell him/her your criteria. See if they can refine your auto emails perhaps to only new listings if that’s not what you’re getting. Or else maybe a smaller search market.

My job also affords me the time to go through the MLS daily and check what's out there and make my own decisions as to whether or not I want to see something. This takes me about 40 minutes for my whole search area as I stay abreast of local listings and only need to view new ones or sometimes ones I change my mind about.