What Your Real Estate Agent Can’t Do For You

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We recently wrote about some of the services you can expect, or in the least – ask for –, from your real estate agent. However, it’s important that you also understand that your agent can’t perform miracles. If she could, do you really think she’d spend her time selling your bungalow when there’s peace in the Middle East she could wave her magic wand over? My real estate agent mentioned a few examples from her “clients from hell”, and it’s flabbergasting what people expected of her. Don’t be one of these people, people!

Your Real Estate Agent Can’t Change the Market

Yes, you really want to get more money for your home than you paid for it. And yes, the improvements and renovations you made look great and cost you money that you want to recoup. And yes, five years ago your place may have sold for a lot more. But if everything in your neighborhood is selling for way less since the factory shut down or the economy bottomed out, your Realtor can’t convince people to invest heavily in a down-turned market. The price you want and the price you can realistically get may be totally different things – and no matter how your Realtor markets your home, the reality of the economy will always win. Your real estate agent should be aware of the going prices in your neighborhood, how long things are sitting on the market, how much is on the market and use all that to tell you what you need to know about listing your home – not simply what you want to hear.

Your Agent Can’t Make Your Home Larger

If you live in a Hobbit hole and people note it as such, you can’t get mad at your agent for it. Your agent can, however, give you suggestions on how to make it look larger (decluttering, using furniture optimally, right use of color), market it to “young professionals” or investment buyers rather than families, not note the exact square footage on your listing, and refer to it as “charming”.

Your Real Estate Agent Can’t Transport Your Home to a New Neighborhood

A home in an awesome neighborhood is absolutely not the same thing as a similarly-sized home in a not-so-great neighborhood … so don’t try to unrealistically compare your home and price to something outside your zone. Also, don’t tell your agent to suggest in materials that the home is in a specific, trendy, hot neighborhood when in fact, you’re a good 10 miles from it. She can, instead, highlight the great things about the area, how close it is to certain areas, and indicate if it’s “up-and-coming”.

Your Agent Can’t Lie About Your Home

It’s not a “just move in and enjoy” kind of home if the roof is about to collapse on itself. Disclosure is your friend, and if there are known issues about the home, it’s best to face those head-on and with your pricing in mind rather than over-sell the place dishonestly. Plus, you can get sued for misrepresenting the property.

Your Agent Probably Can’t Host an Open House Every Weekend

Your agent has clients other than you – and she needs to handle their open houses / viewings as well. She also likely has this “thing” called a family and a life. It’s unreasonable to demand your agent’s undivided attention every day, evening, week and weekend. She should, however, reply to emails and phone calls within a reasonable time, come up with a good sales strategy (including scheduled open houses) and be able to speak with you about things professionally if you’re unhappy about something.

Your Agent Can’t Read Minds

It’s in your Realtor’s interest to follow-up with agents who brought clients in. But sometimes those agents are lame and don’t get back to her, no matter how often she calls or emails them. If she’s not getting feedback, she can’t tell you what visitors to your home thought about it. While it doesn’t sit well with my ethics (or probably hers), you could always install a few surveillance cams around the place before a viewing. Creepy much?

Agents Can’t Control Cancellations

Sometimes people book an appointment to see your home. And sometimes they don’t show up. This SUCKS, especially if you’ve run around like a crazed animal getting it ready and got out of the home even though it was totally inconvenient to do so. If you know the agent didn’t show up, talk to your agent about it and ask them to follow-up. But you can’t get angry at your agent over this. She can’t control these people any more than you can control the weather.

Your Agent Can’t Be Blamed if You Don’t Take Their Advice

Insisted on pricing the home $50k more than she said was fair market value? Ignored the suggestion to de-clutter despite your place looking like something out of Hoarders? Stayed flopped on the couch in your underwear during a visit, even though it was suggested you not be around while your home was being shown? If so, it is your own stubborn fault that it hasn’t gotten any bites. Suck up the pride and go with the professional’s suggestion.

Guilty of anything on this list? Or perhaps you’re a Realtor who’s heard worse? Share your tales with us in the comments below!

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About Jen

Jen (but never “Jenn”) Byck, aka the Fix'n Vixen, is a Toronto-based freelance writer and communication consultant who is undoubtedly home fixated (she is also TV fixated, really bad TV fixated and donut fixated). Her approach to home improvement has been rather trial and error, the latter of which is evidenced by the amount of spackle she buys on an annual basis.

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3 thoughts on “What Your Real Estate Agent Can’t Do For You”

  1. This is the Other Vicki — the one who IS a Realtor. Thank you, Jen, for your spot-on observations — I have a couple of clients who need to read this. (No, not specifically the ones who asked that I put bleach in the toilets of their vacant house, and dispose of the deceased rat in the side yard …..OK, OK. Specifically them! And the answer was No, and No.)

    Location Location Location is no longer the key: now it’s Pricing Pricing Pricing. And believe me, I will get as much for your property as I possibly can — since I do occasionally think of the size of my commission!

    P.S. Also, your Realtor cannot add a yard, when you sit on a canyon. And grumpy tenants are not a selling point …

  2. Thanks for saying this.

    We’re not realtors, but my husband and I have bought and sold a couple houses over the many years .. and hopefully have done so reasonably intelligently. We’re working hard to prepare again to sell up and buy again. It really drives us to much distraction to watch any of the 2000+ television shows on buying and selling homes and the unreasonable expectations people have and even with good advice storm on ahead blinkers on and then want to blame someone else for their folly.


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