Why Do Real Estate Agents Have a Bad Reputation?

It’s not always easy being a Real Estate Agent.

As Realtors, we are faced with fairly routine negativity about the profession. Realtors are greedy or lazy or a bunch of liars… I’ve heard it all. When my colleagues and I talk about overcoming these kinds of negative stereotypes, I don’t get defensive. I don’t point out all of the reasons why those stereotypes are wrong. In fact, I say it time and time again: We have done this to ourselves.

I love this article from Josie Stern: Why do real estate agents have a bad reputation? She hits the nail right on the head and outlines some of the run-of-the-mill practices that unethical Real Estate Agents use. Her points are excellent, and I found the comments both from Realtors and consumers interesting as well.

As Real Estate Agents in Ontario, we work in a highly-regulated field and our ethical responsibilities are very significant. However, as with any profession, there are bad apples in the bunch. So, how can you as a home buyer or seller avoid ending up with one of those unethical real estate agents that gives the rest of us a bad rap? Do your due diligence.

  1. Ask for a formal presentation, whether you are a buyer or seller, or both. Does the agent come prepared and have a polished presentation? If not, walk away.
  2. Don’t just decide on an agent because you “like” him or her. Make sure in addition that their skills and experience are top notch. If they are not, walk away.
  3. Ask for references of recent clients they have assisted. If they can’t or won’t provide references, walk away.
  4. If, during a presentation, a real estate agent makes a lot of promises that seem unrealistic and can’t be supported by market data, walk away.
  5. Etc.

I would like to believe that unethical real estate agents are the minority, and that in general it’s unfair to stereotype about, well, anything. However, your best means of avoiding a situation where you wind up being represented by one of these bad apples is to do your research and make an informed decision.

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