She (or he) came highly recommended. She answered all your questions correctly. You thought she had the experience, professionalism, and integrity to make your dreams come true.

Now you're second guessing the decision to hire this real-estate agent. Here's how to know that now is the time to fire her.

1. Failure to communicate
You hired this real-estate agent to guide you through the process. She was supposed to not just understand the market but also help YOU understand it. 

If you're buying, she was supposed to point you to houses that you will love. If you're selling, she was supposed to bring in a steady stream of prospective buyers. 

But if after a week or two there are no calls, no emails, no potential homes or sellers, it's probably time to fire your agent. A good agent will keep you up to date on progress. She will help manage your fears and anxiety. She will present you with options.

There are several ways to evaluate communication, all of which are critical. Is the agent being proactive? Is she keeping you in the loop? Does she follow up with you promptly when you have a question? Does she answer the phone consistently or is phone-tag the norm?

So, is it time for a new agent? Ask yourself these questions and you'll know the answer intuitively.

2. A lack of hustle
Real-estate agents are salespeople, and any good salesperson must stay on the hustle.

She took pictures of your home for the company website, but are those pictures portraying your home in the most favorable light? Has she failed to schedule an open house and is instead relying on other agents to market your house to their clients?

When you first described your dream home to the agent, did she get back to you quickly with potential homes? Is she finding good fits as soon as they come on the market? Are you finding homes on the Internet faster than your agent? Is the agent making suggestions to you based on your priorities or is she simply showing you any home that is on the market?

All these signs point to an agent who isn't putting your priorities first, epitomized by a lack of hustle to make you happy. You're the boss. If your agent isn't hustling for you, it's time for her to go.

3. Putting their own interests in front of yours
Real-estate agents only get paid when a house sells, but that doesn't mean they should force you into a purchase or sale that isn't in your best interest. 

If you're buying, the agent should not be showing you homes outside of your financial comfort zone. Despite what you may see on TV, it's not wise to buy above your budget. Agents know this, but they may also put the size of their own commission checks above the long-term financial fitness of your family.

If you're selling and an agent is pressuring you to lower your price or accept a low-ball offer, don't ignore the market data. Most states have laws that require agents to disclose any conflicts of interest, but it's worth digging into the details on your own if something doesn't feel right. If you've done your market research and the home should be worth $200,000, then there is no excuse for an agent recommending accepting a $150,000 offer. 

Real-estate agents are salespeople, but they also have a legal responsibility to provide you with advice in your best interests. If your agent isn't putting you first, it's time to find a new agent.

Hire slow and fire fast
Communication is a skill. For many people it is a learned behavior as much as it is naturally occurring. Taking a step back from the behavior, we can easily isolate the most important trait in your agent: integrity.

Hire an agent with high integrity and communication will take care of itself generally. The ideal agent works hard and with honesty, with no hidden agenda, and with your interests first.

If you hire correctly the first time, then hats off to you. If you didn't, don't worry. You can always try again. An old business management mantra holds true in this case as well: "Hire slow but fire fast."


Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.