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Reader Question: Are there ‘why they work’ real estate agent categories?  A recent article you authored titled “What’s wrong with real estate” was insightful. The overview described several conditions that contribute to the real estate sales environment. We will be selling our home soon and feel that expanding on the agents would help alert us to which agents to avoid and which ones to look for. Can you drill down to the individual agents and better describe the “masses of part-time, untrained, unethical, and incompetent agents?”               

Monty’s Answer: There are eight ‘why they work’ real estate agent categories. In my experience, one of the most challenging tasks when selling your home is picking a competent agent. Most real estate agents I have worked with are friendly and present themselves as honest and sincere. They likely believe in their abilities and come across as confident and competent, but, you cannot always distinguish agent shortcomings until after you engage them. It takes effort on the seller’s part to uncover weaknesses in their ability before you hire, and there are many articles on the DearMonty website to help. Here is an example at DearMonty that describes differences in agent’s practices. 

Attitudes and Motivation

Here are differences in why they are working

  1. Hard-working, efficient use of time, and not afraid of sharing information they know you will not like to hear. These agents can defend their conclusions with accurate data and present them diplomatically. They are customer-focused, active listeners, intending to satisfy their customers by putting their interests ahead of their own. This is the agent you want. They are hard to find because lesser agents go the school to learn to mimic their sales presentations.
  2. Hard-working, efficient, and honest, but lacks knowledge and common sense.
  3. This agent needs a cover to camouflage their real interests, be it gambling, alcohol or drugs, playing sports, shopping, looking for love, or something else.
  4. This agent is lazy, invests little effort, and waits for business to come to them.
  5. Agents that use their agent status to prospect for bargains to build their real estate portfolios.
  6. Agents that work only to sell their listings and get paid on both sides of the transaction. They are greedy and short-sighted. “Coming soon” promotions are an example of both sides.
  7. The part-time real estate agent suggests using caution. Agents who consider themselves full time may hold a bias that overlooks that part-time agents can perform well. I once met a retired physician with time on her hands and an interest in real estate. She obtained her license and worked part-time. She could outperform most full-time agents. What is the new agent’s background?
  8. Experienced real estate agents generally believe new agents do not know enough. They say that to hire one is a bad idea, but that may not be the case. What were they doing before they entered real estate? I am aware of an agent that completed over 60 transactions in their first year with five-star recommendations. That said, while many new agents are not prepared there are new agents that bring learned skills with them. 

In my opinion, these descriptions are accurate. This writer operated real estate brokerages for many years and was active with local and state Realtor organizations. If you would like to learn more, here is a link to an independent study from 2015 of future threats to the industry commissioned by the National Association of Realtors. Please scroll to the agent section on page 20 to learn how over 7,000 agents described their fellow agents.