Is Your Real Estate Agent Leading You Astray? 3 Red Flags to Look Out For

Two people walking into an empty house with their realtor.

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Working with the wrong real estate agent could be a recipe for disaster.

Key points

  • Some real estate agents do a better job of putting clients' needs first.
  • If you're buying a home, an agent who pushes you into uncomfortable territory isn't worth your while.

You're not required to hire a real estate agent when you purchase a home. After all, you can search listings and set up appointments to see homes yourself. But if you're a buyer, there's really no reason not to enlist the help of an agent -- it's sellers who are on the hook for real estate agent fees, not buyers, so there's little to lose by having a professional guide your home search.

That said, some real estate agents are more client-focused than others. You may want to hire someone else if these red flags apply to the person you're working with.

1. Your agent pushes you outside your financial comfort zone

When it comes to setting a home-buying budget, the best person to determine how much mortgage you can afford is you. Sure, your lender might pre-approve you for a certain loan amount, or your agent might run some numbers and advise on a price range to stick to. But at the end of the day, it's on you to set a price range for buying a home. If you present that number to your real estate agent and they don't respect it, then it's time to move on.

2. Your agent downplays the cost of renovations and repairs

Not every home you see will be in pristine condition. Unless you're buying new construction, some renovations and repairs may be in the cards. But one thing your real estate agent shouldn't do is brush off the cost of fixing up a home that clearly needs work.

Renovations and repairs can be very costly. And given that many building materials are currently limited in supply, any project you undertake could drag on longer than expected, disrupting your daily life or even forcing you to live elsewhere for a period of time. That's a concern your real estate agent should take seriously, not gloss over.

3. Your agent pushes you to forgo a home inspection

It's a competitive housing market these days, with too few properties available to meet buyer demand. As a result, many buyers are making concessions, hoping to get their offers accepted. But don't forgo a home inspection to get a seller to work with you. And be wary of any real estate agent who pushes you to go that route.

You never know what major issues a home inspection could reveal, from a failing roof to a sinking foundation or a pervasive mold problem. And while giving up a home inspection might result in a quick sale, it could also lead to a true financial (and in some cases, even health-related) nightmare.

If any of these scenarios apply to you, it's time to sever ties with your real estate agent and find a new one immediately. There are plenty of good real estate agents who put their clients' needs ahead of their own financial gain. And those are the agents to work with.

Our Research Expert