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5 Signs of Bad Listing Agents You Should Avoid

5 Signs of Bad Listing Agents You Should Avoid

Selling your home is a monumental undertaking that requires a lot of attention to detail. From creating the listing to helping potential buyers see your home in the best light to handling the details of the transaction, your agent will be intimately involved in the process. This means it’s important to find not just any agent but the right agent. Your agent should not only have your best interests at heart but also know how important the details are.

If you’re new to real estate and not quite sure who to trust, be on the lookout for thee following five types of agents to avoid.


The “SOLD IN 6 DAYS” Agent

You get a post card in the mail. A real estate agent boasts of selling a home in your neighborhood for $30,000 above asking price in just six days. If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it probably is.

Agents like to drum up business by bragging about quick sales, but you should closely inspect the agent’s claims. The home might have been placed under contract within six days, but there would still be a longer process to close escrow. That can take as long as 45 days. The sellers didn’t put their home on the market and pocket their cash profit six days later.

Another important point of scrutiny is considering whether the property got the best marketing possible. A good marketing strategy helps fetch the highest price for sellers. In our experience, the first weeks of market time only accounts for 45% of the exposure. The second week accounts for another 40%. Locking up a property in six days is actually under-marketing and underserving the seller’s best interest. It’s not uncommon for serious buyers to go out of town on that weekend. An extra week on the market might have received twice as many offers and netted as much as $15,000 to $30,000 in additional profits.

Avoid Agents Who Are Proud of Under-marketing Your Home

The Blending-Right-In Agent

Ugly fliers, generic open house signs, cookie-cutter marketing websites, a lack of anything that sets an agent’s listings apart from the competition. These are qualities that should give you reason for concern.

Avoid Generic Open House Signs
Avoid Generic Open House Signs

One can’t help but wonder did this agent not have his/her own company open house sign? Or does the agent lack preparation and simply picked up a generic sign from a hardware store at the last minute?

Look at the materials an agent uses to sell homes. Are there typos on the fliers? Are they printed on low quality paper? Do they fail to point out a home’s unique characteristics? (Gleaming hardwood floors and open floor plan don’t paint a full picture.) Do the agent’s open house signs blend into the crowd on a street corner? Or does the agent go the extra mile to catch buyers’ attention?

A great agent will take the time to create a marketing plan that’s unique to your home and will capture the attention of the right buyers. A sleek, modern condominium full of technological upgrades will need a different strategy than a carefully restored craftsman. Agents should recognize each home’s personality and use a marketing strategy to match.

From the flyers to the open house signs to the website, each element of the marketing plan should reflect your home’s uniqueness. You want an agent who appreciates your home’s character and works hard to reach help buyers translate that character into value.


The Agent

If you’re sending an email to, ask yourself what that email address might tell you about the agent. It’s one thing to use,, or emails for personal use; it’s another thing to conduct business with them.  The same goes for DIY business cards and a website that’s outdated or of low quality. Anything that implies a lack of professionalism on the agent’s part will certainly be noticed by potential buyers. Does the agent lack experience? Does he cut corners on other, more important matters? How does it reflect onto the buyer’s perception of the seller?

An agent who hasn’t kept up with the times in regards to email probably also hasn’t kept up with technology and trends in the market. The real estate market changes rapidly, and a great agent will be on top of it all. Ninety-two percent of home buyers use the Internet to research homes. Having an agent who knows how to put technology to work is imperative.


The Do-it-All Agent

It might seem like a good idea to work with just one professional who can not only list your home but also handle the staging and photography. The all-in-one real estate professional, however, is rarely good in practice. A great agent has cultivated a field of pros who know how to showcase a home by putting thought into every detail. Real estate photographers spend their careers finding the best angles and shots to flatter homes and make buyers feel as if they are standing inside. Professional stagers have just the right piece of furniture to showcase of the functionality of each space.

Jack of All Trades – Master of None

Often the do-it-all agent is thinking more about how to reduce his costs than attracting the most qualified buyers and fetching the best price for your home. Ask prospective agents about the professionals they employ to market and sell your home. If an agent claims to be able to do it all, don’t just walk away — run.


The “Neighbor-only Open House” Agent

The open house is a tremendous opportunity to spark word-of-mouth buzz. Some agents consider curious neighbors to be nothing more than “looky-loos.” Agents will even sometimes suggest holding a separate “neighbor-only” open house. It’s a loud alarm when you hear that. First, it tells you this agent puts his/her own interest above the sellers. Why? Industry insiders know that “neighbor-only” open houses is code for the agent soliciting business from neighbors, not so good for selling the home. Why? Potential buyers who drop by the open house might be surprised to see a buzzing house full of “competition.” Yes, it can be annoying to play host to nosy neighbors who simply want a look inside. Some of those neighbors, however, might have friends and family members who are potential buyers.

A packed open house — even one packed with neighbors — will get people talking. Talk translates into value, which translates into great offers. Look for an agent who knows how to use the open house to create buzz about your home.

With the above said, there is merit to a neighbor-only open house. For instance, if you have a difficult neighbor who might bad mouth you or your house, ruining your open house, only in this situation do we recommend hosting a neighbor-only open. Otherwise, we guarantee that 10 out of 10 times, you are better off not hosting a neighbor-only open house.

A Thoughtful Approach

When you’re choosing a listing agent, consider which agent will give your home the time, attention and resources it deserves. This will help ensure that you’ll get the best possible offers.

At the Cal Agents, we take a comprehensive approach to selling your home. We make sure your home looks its best. We get as many eyes as possible on your property with our expert, individualized marketing approach. And we help you choose the best offer. That doesn’t always mean the offer with the highest price, but the one with the best odds of actually closing.

It’s important to know not just the types of agents to avoid but how to find the right agent. Read our “Secret to Choosing the Right Listing Agent” for tips on making sure your real estate agent is a true pro.

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Lex Shan

Lex is a real estate broker, real estate developer, entrepreneur and technologist. He has started an architectural design firm, real estate development private equity fund and California's largest real estate 3D marketing company.

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