2 Mistakes I Made When Hiring a Real Estate Agent

by Christy Bieber | Updated July 19, 2021 - First published on March 15, 2021

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A young man and woman speaking with their realtor who's holding a tablet in an open house.

Image source: Getty Images

Are you at risk of making them too?

Last summer, I hired a real estate agent. My husband and I are building a new vacation home, so we needed to sell our existing one. We've sold several homes on our own before, but we usually aren't in the town where the house was going on the market. So this time, we really had to hire an agent to help us.

Unfortunately, the experience wasn't good -- we ended up not finding a buyer.

The bright spot is that we sold the home on our own later. But we wasted months, made mortgage payments on a home we didn't want any more, and went through a lot of stress. And a lot of it could've been avoided. But I made two big mistakes in hiring my agent.

1. Not making sure he had sold homes in our price range

My real estate agent had a lot of recent sales, and I assumed that meant he knew how to reach buyers and price properties. Unfortunately, I didn't research the specifics of those past transactions.

When things weren't working out well after my property got listed, I dug a little deeper into his background. Many of his sales were properties priced well below mine. His unfamiliarity with homes in my property's price range made it more difficult to determine the most accurate price, or to provide advice to best attract buyers who'd close the deal with us.

2. Not looking at recent listings to assess the quality of the photos

The biggest problem we ran into, however, was that the "professional" photos my agent arranged simply weren't very good. My home had a few special features, including a nice view from the back yard, and the photos didn't do them justice.

Today, with the novel coronavirus making people more reluctant to go out, it's more important than ever to present a property in its best light in online photos. Even pre-pandemic, almost every potential home buyer finds properties on the internet. And buyers won't make an appointment to see your home if it doesn't make a great first impression.

Although I repeatedly asked my agent for better photos, he refused to do so. I believe we had very few showings because of it. Once my listing agreement expired with him and I moved to selling my property myself, I hired a photographer who took the high-quality shots I wanted. They made my home look far more attractive to people browsing real estate websites -- and I had eight times as many showings as when the property was listed with the agent.

Ultimately, the ability of your real estate agent impacts whether your home sells and whether you get top dollar for it. It's worth doing careful research into the professional you hire -- and avoiding the mistakes I made -- to work with an agent who stands the best chance of finding the right buyer for your home.

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