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Realtor® Negotiation Red Flags You Don’t Want to Ignore

Realtor® Negotiation Red Flags You Don’t Want to Ignore

Feb 3, 2022 | Buyers

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to solicit clients under contract.

Have you ever noticed a red flag either in your personal or professional life? Maybe it’s something that someone has said to you that has given you pause, or an action someone has taken or some type of process that a business has that just doesn’t sit well. 

Oftentimes, a “red flag” can be translated into a gut feeling (AKA your intuition). When we look back on a situation–with 20/20 hindsight–it often becomes clear that those gut feelings you had were actually red flags and signs that you should not have proceeded with the aforementioned deal or relationship. 

Well, in real estate, one of the biggest “red flags” we’ve come across is agents overpromising and underdelivering. We notice it a lot when it comes to negotiating. 


So here are our top Realtor® negotiation red flags you can’t afford to ignore. If your agent is showing any of these signs, run, don’t walk, in the opposite direction! 

They are Not Transparent

A Realtor’s® number one priority is to act on behalf of their client and advocate for them to get the best results possible. For Sellers, this usually means a quick sale at a high price with the best possible marketing and results. For Buyers, this means finding a beautiful home at a great price in an ideal neighbourhood based on the clients’ needs. Both client relationships require sage guidance and support throughout the process, from start to the closing date (and beyond!)

Additionally, buying or selling a home is a huge transaction and your future is on the line. A good Realtor® will understand the weight of these decisions and want to ensure that you know exactly what’s going on at every stage. 

If your Realtor® is unresponsive, takes days to get back to you, or fails to explain the rationale behind specific negotiation or sales tactics, it could be a huge red flag. 

Not only does this behaviour feel dismissive, but it can be nerve-wracking and confusing to be left in the dark. A great Realtor® should make you feel at ease and confident. You should trust their decisions and they should always keep you abreast of the latest developments. Even if the update is, “I don’t have an update yet.” It’s essential to have full, transparent communication with your agent. 

Finding the right Realtor to work with is an important first step on your real estate journey. Read a few of our other resources to help find a suitable Realtor for your specific needs: 

They Procrastinate

In addition to advocating for your best interests, a Realtor’s® goal is to facilitate the sale of your home with ease and speed. This doesn’t mean accepting the first offer that comes in just to get the sale over with, but it does mean taking action quickly when it is required, and for them to prioritize the urgency and importance of a potential offer negotiation.

For example, as a Seller, you need to be confident that your Realtor® is promptly responding to interested Buyers, and to feel confident that your Realtor® is following up and keeping tabs on showing feedback via communicating with the Buyer agents, any offers received, and negotiations so nothing falls through the cracks. 

The best Realtors® are the ones who make themselves available to you. Regardless of how many existing clients they have, you should be made to feel like you’re a VIP. Selling real estate is not a typical Monday-Friday job, and if your Realtor® doesn’t understand that they might need to do a little work on their off-hours, they might not be the right fit for you. 

They Advertise Big Discounts

Everyone loves a great deal. But when it comes to buying or selling real estate, a big discount or ‘cash back’ incentive could actually spell trouble. The bottom line is that hiring a discount Realtor® will give you discount results. 

A discount Realtor® will not invest in the same high-quality property staging, photography, videography, well-written advertising copy, brochures, etc. The simple is fact is that their overhead is too low. They invest minimal time in serving the client, resulting in a less-than-ideal client experience. 

If the agent isn’t able to negotiate a standard commission fee, how can you be confident that they can negotiate the best outcome for the sale of your home? 

Agents that advertise incentives or big discounts for Buyers are also often less experienced. In most cases, the Seller is responsible for paying Buyer Agent commission, so there is really no benefit to the Buyer to get a discount on services since they are not technically the ones paying. 

An agent who offers considerable discounts or flashy schemes to attract clients often also has a less-than-stellar reputation. They likely have sub-par negotiation skills and might not understand the market nuances the way a high-performing agent would. 

In the long run, saving on commission costs is not beneficial because you probably won’t maximize the sale the same way you would with a high-quality agent who charges a standard commission. 

They Make Promises Without Seeing Your Home 

Quality Realtors® put a lot of stock into their market experience and comparable market analysis (CMA). They look at similar properties and similar sales in your neighbourhood to help create a price and action plan in preparing your home for sale that will attract Buyers while ensuring you get the best possible price for your home. 

However, it’s not all about market research. A great Realtor® needs to do some legwork. They need to visit your home and learn as much about the property as possible before making any type of recommendations. 

At the very least you should have a video call as a preliminary meeting before an in-person one if you’re still in the interviewing or planning stages. It’s always best however to (safely) meet in person as getting acquainted and learning more about the Realtor®, their track record of success and personality type makes a huge difference. In addition, the advice that a great Realtor® gives to prepare your home for sale can amount to tens of thousands of dollars more on the sold price.

If a Realtor® is willing to price your home sight unseen, this might be a red flag. How can they negotiate effectively and truly advocate for the sale of your home without seeing it in person? 

But there’s more to just looking at a home when determining its price. The real estate market as a whole has a lot to do with our advice. We publish a market report on our blog every month. You can read past market reports here. 

They are Too Stubborn

The dilemma with real estate is that with every transaction, two parties are trying to get the best outcome for themselves. This means that your Realtor® almost always needs to be open to negotiations. Otherwise, you will be walking away from a lot of probably really great offers. 

In addition to being salespeople, confidants, advocates, and friends; Realtors® are also problem solvers. If your agent is not open to the idea of negotiating or does not help you find viable compromises and solutions to your problems, this is another red flag that could mean trouble down the road. 

So How to Find a Negotiator Who Fits? 

Finding a Realtor® is more than just choosing the person who has signs all over the neighbourhood. It’s more than just going with the person who your sister-in-law recommends, or with the person who has the most money to spend on fancy ads and billboards. It’s about finding an agent that fits your unique situation. 

Once you find a Realtor® who understands your goals, has experience with your unique property type or neighbourhood, takes a personalized and intuitive approach to serving their clients and presents you with an excellent game plan to achieve your goal, then you should ensure they meet a few important negotiating criteria to ensure your best interests are protected during the transaction. 

Some items to note include: 

  • The Realtor® is responsive to your input and does a great job of explaining the nuance of pricing, accepting/making offers, etc. 
  • They hold some sort of negotiation certification such as the Master Certified Negotiation Expert (MCNE), proving that they are well-versed and accredited in negotiation processes. 
  • The Realtor® is honest and does not make sweeping generalizations or promises when selling a home that seem way out of line and far too high above your expectations, and will provide honest advice when buying a home in regards to market valuation, any potential concerns or pitfalls about the property, neighbourhood, etc 
  • You have seen proof whether by speaking to others, reading testimonials, or doing your own research that the agent delivers and can do the things they say they can. 
  • The Realtor® is detailed and transparent in all contracts and communications. 

Whether buying or selling, working with a Realtor® who is experienced, knowledgeable, and passionate about the negotiation process only serves to benefit you in the long run. Not only will your real estate experience be more efficient and seamless, but you’ll also see faster sales and better outcomes no matter what your goals are. 

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