Eight categories of real estate agent motives

Reader Question: A recent article you authored titled “What’s wrong with real estate” was insightful. The overview described 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 us understand real estate agent motives. Can you drill down to the individual agents and better describe the “masses of part-time, untrained, unethical, and incompetent agents?”

Monty’s Answer: 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. You cannot always distinguish shortcomings until after you engage them. It takes effort on the seller’s part to uncover weaknesses in their ability before you hire. 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.
  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 an agent attempting to garner the listing side and the the selling side of the fee. A seller allowing this to happen has limited market exposure, which is what an MLS offers.
  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 could outperform many full-time agents. What is the new agent’s background?
  8. Experienced real estate agents generally believe new agents do not know enough. To hire one is a bad idea. 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, many new agents are not prepared.

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 industry problems commissioned by the National Association of Realtors. Please scroll to the agent section on page 20 to learn how agents described their fellow agents.