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September News You Can Use

Housing Stats • Signs of a Bad Real Estate Agent

Houston Area Housing Inventory Increases while Sales Ease

Although better than 2020, the Houston area housing market saw a slight decline in sales last month while there was a small uptick in supply. Sales of all property types rose 9.2 percent year-over-year. Local home sales are 17.4 percent ahead of 2020’s pace. In July, a majority of buyers were paying about .3% above list price. That dropped to .4% below list price in August.

Inventory has creeped up to a 1.9-months supply, down from 2.6 months last August. The national inventory is currently at a 2.6-months supply. Days on the market remained at 26. 

Month-to-Month Comparison:

CategoryJan.
2021
Feb.
2021
Mar.
2021
Apr.
2021
May
2021
June
2021
July
2021
Aug.
2021
Total Property Sales7,5197,46411,69211,34812,10012,10012,38312,036
Total Active Listings26,27123,93322,60222,79422,60722,60727,26827,555
Single-Family Home Sales6,0886,0499,3479,1059,7029,70210,1599,890
Townhome/Condominium Sales450485788817835887827789
Single-Family Months of Inventory1.81.61.41.41.41.41.81.9
Single-Family Pending Sales8,8098,28811,18211,14010,90910,90910,36810,431
Days on Market4848454034342626

Single-Family Sales by Price Range (Harris, Fort Bend, Brazoria & Montgomery Counties)

Price RangeJan.
2021
Feb.
2021
Mar.
2021
Apr.
2021
May
2021
June
2021
July
2021
Aug.
2021
$1 - $99,9995653604853504652
$100,000 - $149,999213170215182179170175171
$150,000 - $249,9991,8941,7242,3732,2722,0652,1152,0302,003
$250,000 - $499,9992,3432,4323,9304,1534,2644,8364,7124,562
$500,000 - $749,9993574237898199151,059960891
$750,000 and above214267478513598689586487

Don't Brush Off These Telltale Signs of a Bad Real Estate Agent

Adapted from: Melissa Rudy / HomeLight

Did you choose your real estate agent based on a friend-of-a-friend’s referral, a quick Google search, or even a flyer in a mailbox? Is your gut telling you it isn’t the right fit, but you’re not sure if it’s worth the hassle to cut ties?

We get that it’s inconvenient to go back to square one of the Realtor hiring process. And you’ll (temporarily) feel like a jerk firing an agent who’s already done some legwork for you.

But keep this in mind: In all likelihood, you’ll never sell anything as expensive as a house. As the quarterback of your home sale, your Realtor has the potential to save you time, fetch you more money, and protect your sanity. Alternatively, this person could leave you hanging with another unanswered voicemail and the sinking feeling that you were never their priority.

If you’ve started talking with (or have already signed with) someone and think you’ve made the wrong choice, look for these signs of a bad real estate agent so you know when it’s time to move in a different direction.

How to spot a bad agent: Look out for these signs

If you spot any of these red flags, they could indicate that an agent will deliver sub-par service or is simply not the right fit:

Dropping the ball on communication

In the fast-moving world of real estate, quick and clear communication is key. A delayed response can sometimes mean the difference between landing or losing a deal. If you find yourself waiting hours or days for your agent to return calls, texts, or emails — or if your questions and concerns solicit silence — that’s a surefire sign that it’s time to move on.

Same goes for the agent who does get back to you, but has a communication style that doesn’t mesh well with yours. If you feel like he or she is rushed, irritated, or not forthcoming during your conversations — or if the chemistry just isn’t there — it’s likely not a good fit.

Another communication caveat is if the agent tends to sugar-coat situations and only tell you what he or she thinks you want to hear. Also consider whether the agent adheres to your preferred communication channels, whether it’s via phone, text, or email.

Real estate is only a side gig

Everyone has to start somewhere, and some agents might dip their toe into the real estate waters while still juggling another job or other responsibilities. But as a seller, working with a part-time agent who is spread too thin can lead to disappointment.

Pushy with an agenda

A listing agent’s role is to guide you through the process of selling, not to push you through it. If you ever feel that your agent is trying to strong-arm you into making a decision motivated by their potential commission rather than your goals and needs, that’s a huge red flag.

Unfamiliarity with the market

This often goes hand-in-hand with part-time or inexperienced agents. If your agent isn’t up to speed on the local comps and fails to provide reliable and accurate data, you’ll need to look for someone who has more knowledge of the market in your area.

Late or no-show appointments

Selling a home involves a string of scheduled events, and missing just one can slow down or derail the progress toward a sale. If your agent is consistently late or misses showings, open houses, inspections, appraisals, or other events, that’s a key indicator of unreliability.

Shaky negotiations

For some agents, everything might seem fine until an offer comes in. If you’ve received offers on your home but haven’t been able to settle on a sale price, your agent could be dropping the ball during negotiations.

Lies and half-truths

If you have reason to believe that your agent has provided misleading information, misrepresented you or a buyer, outright lied, or urged you to conceal information in a contract, he or she is not someone you want working on your behalf.

In addition, anyone who becomes a Realtor is bound by the Realtor Code of Ethics. If you believe a Realtor has been dishonest or violated the code, you can file a complaint with the Texas Real Estate Commission.

Over-eager to please

A good agent should be transparent and forthright, offering their professional guidance on the best course of action, even if it’s not what you were expecting or hoping to hear.

‘The buyer wants to know…’

While it’s true that real estate transactions involve a lot of back-and-forth communications, a good agent is more than just a messenger. If your agent merely passes along information — conveying what the buyer wants and asking for your approval, without providing much in the way of guidance — that’s a sign that they’re not advocating for your best interests (or that they lack the knowledge or experience to do so).

How to avoid partnering with a ‘bad’ agent

Now that you know how to spot an ineffective or incompetent agent, how can you avoid signing a contract with one in the first place?

Get a recommendation from a trusted referral.

As a homeowner, you’ve probably asked friends and family for referrals before you hire a handyman, a gutter cleaner, a deck stainer, or a house cleaner. So when it’s time to hire a Realtor, you’re inclined to call your Mom or your best friend in town or your favorite coworker and find out who sold their home.

Here’s why that’s not always the best method for finding an agent: The right agent for someone else won’t always be the right agent for you. This is a highly personal choice and you’ll benefit from partnering with an agent who’s tailored to your specific needs. Which brings us to the next point…

Check the agent’s experience in your area and price point.

One agent might have no problem selling a $150,000 home, for example, but might be out of their element when it comes to marketing a million-dollar property. At each pricing threshold, different skills and experience come into play. The same goes for geographical area: An agent might be adept at selling farms and rural homes, but could come up short when listing urban properties.

Rule out any agents who don’t have a presence online.

In our digital age, competent agents will have an online profile with their statistics, closings, reviews, and other data.

Look for clarity in the initial consultation.

If an agent kicks off the process with a consultation where they lay out a road map of expectations, you’re generally in great hands. On the flip side, if the consultation doesn’t leave you feeling confident in the agent’s skills and commitment, he or she is probably not right for you. And if an agent fails to request a consultation altogether, that’s another red flag.

What to do if you find yourself under contract with a bad agent

Even though you know how to spot the signs of a bad real estate agent now, many sellers don’t realize that when they sign a listing agreement with an agent, it’s a legally binding contract that gives the agent exclusive rights to sell the property for a certain period of time. What happens if you didn’t see any of the warning signs, and now you find yourself stuck in a contract with an agent who isn’t delivering?

If you’ve decided that you no longer want to work with your agent, you have a few options:

  • Request a written release from the agreement. An email will suffice. Include your reason for wanting to end the relationship, whether it’s due to poor communication, disappointing results, or another failure to meet expectations. If there is a cancellation clause in the agreement, there shouldn’t be any issue. If there is not an “out” in the agreement, the agent might still be willing to release you, perhaps with a small fee.
  • If there is no cancellation clause and the agent will not agree to release you from the agreement, you can request that they withdraw your home from the system and then wait for the contract to expire before signing with a new agent.
  • Another option is to request that the brokerage assigns a different agent to your property, as contracts are typically between the seller and the brokerage rather than with an individual agent.

If your home is already under contract with a buyer, parting ways with an agent becomes trickier. If you are in breach of an existing sales contract, you could potentially be on the hook for commission fees.

No such thing as ‘one-size-fits-all’ agents

Selecting a real estate agent is a highly personal decision. Someone who is an ideal fit for one homeowner may completely miss the mark for someone else. This hire should be tailored to your neighborhood, property, price point, and priorities — as well as your personality and communication preferences. Don’t ignore these signs of a bad real estate agent and settle for someone mediocre. Dig into their historical performance so you can see if they can back up their promises. If your gut tells you that it’s not the right fit, do some more research before you sign any paperwork.