Why You Should Stop Looking for an “Investor-Friendly” Real Estate Agent

by | BiggerPockets.com

In my research through the Forums of BiggerPockets attempting to understand the needs of potential future clients as a new real estate agent, I have come across countless threads looking for “investor-friendly” real estate agents. Are they really the unicorns of real estate? I don’t think so. Let me share my perspective with you.

Let’s start with the term “investor-friendly.” This implies there are agents out there who are investor-unfriendly, and if the posts on BP are any indication, they seem to be out in great numbers since every newer investor seems to be searching for the friendly ones with no luck.

In life, if we wander around every day not being able to find a friendly person, at what point do we start looking in the mirror?

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Are You Looking for a Friend or a Professional?

It may sound harsh, but agents are not friendly or unfriendly towards you because they need a new pal. By statute, agents owe every client the same fiduciary responsibilities. These responsibilities are confidentiality, loyalty, obedience, disclosure, care, and accounting. These may vary state to state.

That being said, even though all agents are required to perform these duties for all clients, a true professional will exceed in every category. When they are exceeding in every category, they tend to make a good living, and their time becomes scarce. 


Related: The Epic Guide to Finding an Investor-Friendly Real Estate Agent

In combing through these threads, the following are actual statements from investors that give me some insight into what they consider “friendly.”

  • “I need someone who answers the phone.”
  • “I’m a first time buyer, and I need reliable information on my market.”
  • “I want an agent who will be patient and educate me on what to look for so that I will not get ripped off.”
  • “I really want an agent who will help me negotiate the best price.”

I could list go on and on, but what I have learned from these comments is investors are not looking for someone who is “friendly” — they are looking for an agent who is a “professional.”

Do you agree?

Why is it Difficult to Find a Professional Who Will Work With Investors Consistently? 

Now that we know a professional is what we are looking for, let me share some of the reasons straight from the BP Forums as to why agents shy away from working with some investors.

  • “He wanted me to write 15 offers on pristine houses, all at 40% below retail market price.”
  • “He constantly called me for weeks asking for information off the MLS, and then purchased with a different agent.”
  • “They continually talked about the ‘investor boot camp’ and ignored my professional advice.”
  • “I worked with an investor once, and they would call at all hours expecting me to drop all my other clients to work on what they wanted.”

Again, I could make a lengthy list, but a majority of the complaints from the agent side have a common thread. The investors are wasting their precious time and/or not respecting the advice from the agent.

In addition to the above, there were countless investors looking to enlist agents for duties suited to an assistant or receptionist. There may be agents out there who will write endless offers, drop everything to get information off the MLS, and be willing to perform whatever duties are required by an investor with the hope of closing a single transaction, but in my opinion, these will not be the most professional agents or have extensive knowledge of the market. They are individuals trying to stay afloat in their business. Is this the type of person you want working for you?


Related: Are Your Rentals in a Landlord-Friendly State? Here’s Why That Makes a BIG Difference.

Become What You Are Looking to Attract

We want to find an investor-friendly agent, but are we agent-friendly investors? Sometimes it’s hard to acknowledge our own flaws. Devote some extra time to dig in deep, and really get to know what an agent does during their daily activities. The juggling act that is discovered will most likely be a surprise and will help anyone have a deeper appreciation of the amount of time and effort that is involved to produce great results for clients consistently.

Investor-Friendly Real Estate Agents Do Not Exist

There are only professionals and non-professionals. When two professionals work together, it will naturally be a mutually beneficial relationship, and both parties will work to keep the relationship intact. The time and knowledge of both sides will be respected by the other. If either an agent or an investor finds it difficult to work with the other, there may be a need for one or both to step up the game to a professional level.

If you are an agent or an investor, let me know how you feel, and share your experiences in the comments! 

Leave your opinions below!

About Author

brandon l.

Brandon is a U.S. Army veteran, serial entrepreneur, and real estate investor who helps others improve their life through writing for online publications such as "Bigger Pockets" and "The Good Men Project" Find out more about Brandon on his website www.theroundlife.com


  1. Kim Martin

    Brandon – I really enjoyed your article. You make a GREAT point, and communication is key. I have had several heart to heart conversations with my agent. We have a great relationship and that takes a lot of hard work. I sometimes have to remind myself that she has the best intentions – I call that “grace”. I know she has my back and I have hers.

  2. Carl Randal

    Excellent article Brandon. I too am a Veteran, Real Estate Investor, and a Realtor. All of your points are spot on, and like Kim Martin states, it all comes down to communication, but I would also add boundaries. The agent has to effectively communicate their boundaries so the Investor can know the limits and vice versa. Thanks for highlighting a very important topic!

  3. Gordon Cuffe

    Maybe we should just change the term to investor knowledgeable agent. Investors should look for investor knowledgeable agents . That would be an agent who is also an investor and is familiar with cap rates, estimated cost of repairs and after repair values.

    • Even homebuyer clients would benefit from a buyer’s agent who is familiar with cap rates, estimated cost of repairs and after repair values. Most agents push comparable sales which measure confirmation bias, not fndamental value.

    • Tom Mole

      Gordon, I should have mentioned your insights in my comment. You’re completely correct. Investor Knowledgeable Agents are what we need. I wish every state would offer a CE program for agents and brokers on investor valuations. I can end up wasting a ton my time and the agent’s time by having them show me crap that would never fit my criteria.

      Great insight.


    • Casey Murray

      Completely agreed, Gordon. Investors should ask the agent these basic questions (cap rate, market rents, etc.). If the agent doesn’t know these answers then you have your answer about the agent. Also asking how many rental properties the agent owns is a big indicator of their investment activity.

  4. Michael Sadler

    It sounds like the comments from the investors are coming from really novice investors. I’m guessing it’s more profitable for these investors to setup their own systems to solve these problems. I don’t think that every real estate investor needs a broker or agent in all cases.

    • brandon l.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts Michael. I feel that I came across a lot of these comments from new investors because the more experienced ones are meeting contacts through in person networking activities, but I may be wrong. Hope you have a great day 🙂

  5. Tom Mole

    Brandon, you made some truly excellent points. Thank you. I was particularly moved by your point about being an Agent-Friendly Investor. I couldn’t agree more… and I’m not a realtor!

    I think Michael Sadler makes a fine observation. Often the newbie is really looking to take advantage of the realtors he finds. I don’t think most folks mean to be like that. Rather, I think they’ve been told over and over that realtors work for the sellers and helping buyers is “just their job”. They don’t even realize how big a pain in toosh they’re being.

    Newbies really DO NOT need an Investor-Friendly Agent. They do need a better education and an enthusiasm for doing their own work.

    I still look for Investor-Friendly Brokers, however. Now, keep in mind that I respect the realtor’s time and effort. I am a very Agent-Friendly Investor, yet I don’t work with “just any” realtor. The trouble is that many agents/brokers do not understand what a real investor is looking for. That’s just not part of their curriculum. When an agent tells me that any property will cash flow if you just put enough money down, I know they don’t “get it” yet.

    There is a need for brokers that understand the investor mindset. Not all professional realtors have that understanding and that fine. I only need a few that do and we’re off to the races!!

    Thanks again for your fantastic post!


  6. julie oldham

    I have a great agent because I respect her time. She only gets a small commission from my deals once or twice a year, so I always try to pass other business to her as often as I can. My friends and family know I’m a real estate investor, they often take my recommendation to use my agent. Also, I would NEVER ever expect or want my Realtor to analyze a deal for me or tell me if something is a good flip or a good rental to hold. In fact, I make sure to run my numbers on everything before I ask her to show me a property or write an offer. And yes, she will write very low-ball offers for me, but I typically give her my reasons for these and they do get accepted now and then.

    I don’t expect her to tell me my business, and I use her because I don’t want to be licensed. I’m the first investor she’s ever worked with, she’s a very busy agent that typically works with owner occupants. But she’s well-respected in the community and her excellent reputation has helped me get deals in the past; other agents believe her when she says I will close a deal. I also like that I’m the only investor she works with, I know when she runs across the perfectly trashed, smelly dump, I’m her first phone call.

    My advice to newbies would be to learn your stuff first, don’t expect your agent to teach you! Know what you want, know your margins, be specific in your requests to your agent. Buy her lunch often! Value her time as she does, don’t ask her to show you things you have no intention of buying, and never ever do a deal with anyone else after she invests hours and hours on your behalf unless you’re planning to fire her (or have her fire you :-)). Over the years, she’s learned that she might have to show me a bunch of houses before I get one, but that I DO buy places, and so do the friends I send her way.

    I agree with Brandon, there aren’t “investor friendly” real estate agents. Both you and your agent are running a business, you’re both trying to make money. Keep this in mind when dealing with your Realtor, spend a day in her shoes, and you should do fine.

    • On the other hand, usual homebuyers should be able to rely on buyer’s agents to do homework and run numbers. The main reason homebuyers use a buyer’s agent is because they lack this expertise. In fact, this is the buyer’s agent’s main marketing point, and yet they fail to meet even the expectation they themselves create and promote. For example, when a homebuyer asks an agent if a certain addition was permitted or not, the standard answer is, “I do not know. YOU will have to check with the city.” They never say, I’LL find out for you.”

  7. Rudolf K.

    It comes down to 2 things: Money and time. Many new “investors” have little money at hand but fantasize being “professionals” after they read Kyosaki’s rich dad poor dad or watched a couple episodes of Dean Graziozi’s get rich quick vidcasts. No serious agent wants to deal with people targeting single 100k shit boxes because It is just not worth the time and effort.

  8. Mike mckinzie on

    When interviewing agents to work with, just simply ask them how many rentals they own! Friendly, knowledgeable, professional, experienced, and dedicated are great attributes, but if an agent has not been successful enough to invest themselves and has not been disciplined enough to invest, then they most likely will not understand the mindset of an investor. And do not worry about them competing with you, there are plenty of deals to go around. And who knows, they may become a partner on a larger deal down the road.

  9. Camilla Sauder

    I’ve personally had three agents over the course of five years. The first one dropped me saying that she wanted to take her business in a new direction that didn’t include investors. In other words, I was too much time and too little money. I would never recommend her to anyone because of that.
    The second one wasn’t serious about being an agent in my opinion. They didn’t get back to me in a timely manner and houses I wanted to write offers on were already under contract by the time they did! They considered this a “side job” and treated it as such. My goal was not to have this be MY side job so that didn’t work out either.
    My third agent is terrific!! We discussed at length what type of house I look for, comps for resale and what the numbers have to be to make it work. She does all that before we meet which saves a bunch of time. She writes up a list as we look of pros and cons for each house and estimates the fix up cost. My mentor would say that I have trained her well. She has learned a ton from me and I have benefitted greatly from our relationship. I have purchased about 25 houses from her over the last four years. I have recommended her to many people!! Although she might not make as much money off of me as working with retail buyers, you never know who I might connect her with that could bring in a lot more.
    I think that finding the right agent is a process and when you do find one, give grace where needed but expect them to come through for you as well. It’s give and take from both sides.

  10. Michael Dake

    Great post, Brandon. Well-written, makes important points, and has prompted a great discussion. I have always interpreted comments about “investor-friendly agents” as looking for “investor-knowledgeable agenst.” As the article states, it is not friendship, it is business, and a knowledge-based business at that. The role of investor in this business is relatively transparent. An investor’s goal is to generate cash flow. The role of real estate licensee (the generic term) is a little more opaque.

    Real estate licensees are licensed by their states, each of which imposes different obligations on their practices. REALTOR and Agent are specific terms that come in to play through that licensee joining the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) or by signing a contract with a client, either seller or buyer. I am licensed by the state of Alabama to sell real estate, but I am not a REALTOR, and I am only an agent for those who specifically contract for that level of service. Everyone else is legally a customer, to whom I owe the duties of care outlined above. I can only provide advice on a given transaction to clients with whom I have a disclosed agency relationship. All others get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…. Your mileage may vary in different states.

    I said above that “I am not a REALTOR.” Why not? I am a commercial real estate advisor. I elected to pursue a career helping investors buy and sell properties, not owner-occupants buying and selling their own homes. I didn’t join NAR or its affiliates. I am not on the MLS. That may make it harder to find SFR deals for investors, but that is not my preferred asset class. I refer that work to residential specialists and get their commercial property referrals in exchange. I work with mullti-family properties, four-plexes and up. LoopNet is the commercial listing service of choice in most markets. Some commercial real estate licensees are members of the MLS to participate in the SFR market. But whether the commercial advisor is a REALTOR or not, on the MLS or not, he or she is definitely “investor-knowledgeable.” That is the definition of commercial real estate practice, after all.

    And it is true, most residential-focused real estate licensees do not know how to satisfy the information needs of investor buyers or sellers. It is not their specialty. Brandon’s argument, in his original posting, could be extended to a recommendation for investors to seek out commercial real estate professionals, who have identified themselves as specializing in the same concepts as the investor, rather than looking for residential professionals who are not.

    I look forward to further discussion.

  11. Susan Maneck

    Here in Mississippi the problem is that the SFR we typically buy are purchased at such a small amount the Real Estate Agent just doesn’t make that much, and most don’t consider these properties worth their trouble. The one I currently work with was the only one who would return my calls when I wanted to buy a HUD property for 13K. In other words, she was hungrier than the rest. I’ve kept her ever since for that reason. So has the rest of my family. Between us she has helped us buy eight properties and is working on the ninth.

  12. Zach Zimmer

    Good points, however my experience has shown me that there are agents that want to deal with investors and volume all the time, and there are agents that will take that on when the higher dollar occupant owner market is slow.
    I am on my 3rd/4th agent in 4 years and have my “keeper” now.
    My first agent I bought 4 with in a year new the rental market very well but was not professional and had some personal / substance issues.
    My second one was great for homes 5-11 over about 1.5 years. However, when the market picked up she became too busy with occupant owner buying/selling (at 3-10x higher price points) and I fell to the wayside.
    Agent #3 for 11-13 went the same way once she became too busy.
    Enter agent #4! She is low to middle end junkie who’s small regional broker get’s the HUD listings and this is her sweet spot. We have done 10 deals in the last 18 months. She even stages my flips!

  13. Mike Dymski

    For me, have an investor-agent was imperative. She sourced and sold all of my properties and was the linchpin of my personal investing and, frankly, the most important person in my life aside from friends and family. The stockbroker, insurance agent, attorney, CPA and contractors are all downstream from her. I’d highly recommend fostering investor-agent relationships, especially if you are busy outside of REI.

  14. Mel Quiroa

    Brandon – Great Read. I believe we all in fact are looking for our Agent to be professional and in return we also have to conduct ourselves that way. Being able to sit down and discuss your goals and search criteria with your agent will not only save your Agents time but yours as well. Good clear communication is key to building a great partnership. Thanks again.

  15. Stacy G.

    Great article Brandon and it has generated some excellent comments. Full disclosure, I am not a real estate agent and never expect to hold a license unless TREC changes the laws in Texas. That being said, I started in real estate 25+ years ago as a controller, then VP Finance for a production home builder. I also have directly managed land development and commercial construction throughout my career. I don’t have an exact count of how many deals I have closed, but I know it numbers in in excess of a thousand.

    My two cents for what it is worth.

    First, investors should not expect realtors to teach them the business nor do their work. If you are a newbie, then invest in learning the business from someone who is invested in your education. But, don’t expect it for free or for other professionals to hold your hand and you make money. This is a business.

    Second, make sure you are working with professionals who are focused on investment real estate regardless of whether they be a realtor, insurance agent, title company or subcontractor. Newbies have a hard time distinguishing the difference at times either because of improper training or failure to grasp the concept. But, it is a very important one and not that difficult to understand if you think about it in terms of other industries. There are retailers and their are wholesalers. There are manufacturers and distributors. There is a difference in the type of products/services they provide and the price they provide them.

    Investor friendly or investor knowledgeable realtors are just that, realtors who know the real estate investment business and work with investors. Most of the time they will not be in the annual list of top RE professionals in your region or show up as a listing agent in MLS. You might find their name on a sign advertising an investor grade deal, but most likely you will meet them networking at REI and other investor events.

    Judging from some of the comments above and I have heard before, most of the failures were not the realtors doing. What happens is the investor seeks out the wrong type of professional. I have lost count of how many people I have met who attended a seminar then made a call to their local retail realtor office to put someone on their team. Honestly, if a retail realtor does not turn you down I would bet they are new or not that good. In any case, it is a disappointment waiting to happen…….for you both. You need someone who is focused on the same business as you.

    My last point is where I think the term originated in the first place. It is a retail realtor trying work the investment business like a retail deal. What’s the difference? Retail realtors list and source properties for owner/occupants who are typically purchasing properties which are move-in ready with a mortgage. Everyone else and any property which can not qualify for the preceding are investors and investments. Now, I know there are cases where someone buys a second home or one-off rental as an “investment”. But, those are the exceptions and not the rule in real estate investing. I think we are all talking about professional real estate investing as business in this case.

    The issue for investors is when retail realtors try to market or transact investment deals like they were retail. Here’s an example. I was given a lead for a property where the couple was unfortunately going through a divorce and their teenage son had done considerable damage to the house in response to the news. In short, this less than 5 year old house would not pass a Freddie or Fannie inspection and therefore your typical owner/occupant would be unable to get a conventional loan to close the deal. Rather than advise the seller of their options or pass the deal to an investor knowledgeable realtor, this agent thought listing the property at retail less “repairs” would do the trick. Doesn’t work. When I explained to the agent our estimate of repairs (using retail rates) and how market price was only relevant to conventional sales, they couldn’t grasp the concepts. End result, a disservice to the seller who ultimately lost the home in foreclosure. Holding out for the impossible by an agent marketing the impractical.

    In summary, we love to work with retail agents who love to work with investors. We do this by forging a profitable and mutually beneficial relationship. When they have deals they can’t move through traditional retail channels, they send them our way. When we have a property ready for retail (i.e. flips) or we can’t move through the investor market, we do the same. The end result is an investor friendly retail realtor and realtor friendly investor. Win-win for all involved!

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