7 signs that it's time to break up with your real estate agent

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By Teri Karush Rogers  |
November 30, 2011 - 7:28AM

If you are using a real estate agent to buy, sell, or rent an apartment, you will need to come to peace with the fact that agents earn their living at your expense--and probably to a greater extent than you think is appropriate.

That said, you do not, and should not, work with an agent more focused on their commission check than on customer satisfaction.

Customer-focused agents aren’t saints or even necessarily someone you might want to grab dinner with when your business concludes.  They just happen to grasp three related facts:

  • Careers are longer than a single deal.
  • New York City is a lot smaller than it looks (the Internet, Facebook, and StreetEasy’s Talk forums have only made that more true).
  • While a single commission check is nice, client referrals are the gifts that keep on giving to the bottom line. 

If you are feeling more like an ATM than a person lately, check to see whether any of the descriptions below fit your agent.  It may be time for a switch.

  1. Missing in action:  Skipped appointments, full voicemail boxes, and unreturned messages are red flags that your agent is too busy or has written you off as unlikely to complete a transaction in the near-enough-for-your-agent future.
  2. Uses high pressure tactics:  Your agent constantly pressures you to sign a lease yesterday, make an offer on a place you’re not in love with or accept an offer with little negotiation.
  3. Omits critical information:  Neglects to mention that, say, the apartment for which you’ve just negotiated an offer to buy is actually a short sale. (This actually happened to one buyer, who promptly sought a new agent through BrickUnderground's Agent Referral Service.)
  4. Suffers from search-related amnesia: Your agent can’t seem to remember (see #5 below) the fundamental requirements of your search, such as price range, neighborhood, and minimum bedrooms/baths.
  5. Stacks the deck: You suspect your agent is showing you a lot of awful apartments in order to get you to like the only decent one in the bunch.
  6. Agrees with everything you say: Your agent who acts like your employee rather than a trusted advisor who is concerned as much or more with your longterm satisfaction (and, consequently, his/her reputation) as in closing a deal.
  7. Cuts your appointment short to go to an audition: Agents who works part time are more likely to come up short in time, knowledge and experience. They also tend to be more focused on the short-term payoff of the commission check.


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Teri Rogers Headshot - Floral

Teri Karush Rogers

Founder & Publisher

Founder and publisher Teri Karush Rogers launched Brick Underground in 2009. As a freelance journalist, she had previously covered New York City real estate for The New York Times. Teri has been featured as an expert on New York City residential real estate by The New York Times, New York Daily News, amNew York, NBC Nightly News, The Real Deal, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and NY1 News, among others. Teri earned a BA in journalism and a law degree from New York University.

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