27 Things Your Realtor Won’t Tell You

Well, well, well. What have we here? 27 things your Realtor won’t tell you?!

This couldn’t possibly be one of those “behind the scenes,” tell-all posts that I hear so much about? Well, yes… that’s exactly what it is.

“But Tre! I thought you were one of those honest agents that treats clients the way you want to be treated?!?”

Never fear, that hasn’t changed. What I’m about to share is what I’ve seen and heard throughout my career. The good news for you is that, once you’ve read this piece, you’ll be armed and dangerous. No more surprises for you, no sir.

Dig right in! And of course, if you do have questions, feel free to contact me directly for specific answers to your specific questions.

Buying Side

Photo of a cute home in Louisville, KY
A house may look totally adorable on the outside but you never know what you might find on the inside.

I’ve divided 27 things your Realtor won’t tell you into three groups. This first group are ones you may, or may not, encounter when buying a home.

1. You Never Know What You’ll Find When Showing a Home

Seriously, I’ve seen a lot of crazy things when showing properties. People asleep in a bedroom. A parrot given free reign to come and go around the home. And the list goes on. Of course, most agents won’t tell you about any of this going in, first, because they will be just as surprised as you are. Second, because they want you to love every house.

2. Some Listings Will Not Be Available for Showing

Dishonest agents can tell their client a listing is not available. Maybe the commission is lower. Maybe they want their client to buy one of their own listings. There could be a number of reasons but sometimes Realtors lie.

3. The Ethnic Makeup of a Given Neighborhood

Here’s one where your Realtor can’t tell you certain things. Our laws are pretty clear and hold powerful consequences if broken. Real estate agents can not “steer” clients towards or away from any house or neighborhood based on the Fair Housing protected classes.

4. The Amount of Crime in a Given Area

Not the same but similar to the one above, Realtors should not share information about crime. Instead, we should point you towards objective data and let our clients draw their own conclusions.

5. Home Inspectors Only Tell Part of the Story

Home inspectors aren’t experts in any one field but know a little about a lot. It’s often wise to get a second opinion for particular home features. If your Realtor tells you to simply trust the home inspector, that’s a major, black flag.

6. Home Warranties Are a Crap Shoot

Some agents will be honest and tell you that home warranties are unpredictable and shouldn’t be counted on. That’s the honest truth. If a Realtor tells you, “Don’t worry, just get a home warranty” that agent is trying to push you forward… at your own peril.

7. You May Hate Your Neighbors

It’s really out of anyone’s control. How can you possibly interview neighbors when you already have a lot on your plate just finding and buying the perfect home? The truth is, you can’t predict it. For your sake, I hope you don’t hate your neighbors.

8. Don’t Skip the Final Walk-through

Some agents won’t tell you to skip the final walk-though. Those agents would be the good ones! If an agent says, “Naw… just blow it off. You’ve got a home warranty,” that’s a double sin!

9. You Might Be Better Off Renting than Buying *gasp*

Realtors are in the business to make money. They don’t get paid if you decide to rent, or if they do, it’s a very small amount. I shoot straight with my clients. A couple of times I did tell them they should not buy but rent instead. In those cases, it was the right thing to do.

Listing Side

Photo of an impressive home in Louisville KY
Making sure the house is ready to sell is just part of the equation. Paperwork, negotiations and more all matter a great deal.

10. Commissions Are Negotiable By Law

By law, all commissions are negotiable. So if your agent says, “This is the standard commission,” beware! While 3% per side is the most common commission rate, it’s not always the smartest rate. There are times when it might be better to raise it. While other times it could be lowered. It just depends.

11. There Are Many Ways to Structure a Listing Agreement

Like the commission, the listing agreement can be structured based on many factors. Such as:

  • Who brings the buyer?
  • How fast did it take to get the contract?
  • Who is doing the marketing?
  • Will there be a different agent on the purchase on the next home?

Really, the sky is the limit when it comes to the number of ways a listing can be laid out.

12. Some Agents Overestimate the Value of Your Home on Purpose

It may be difficult to discover, but some agents will overestimate the value of your home in the hope that the owner selects them to be the listing agent. It’s kind of like a sneaky compliment. This happens most often when the seller is interviewing multiple agents.

13. Some Agents Underestimate the Value of Your Home on Purpose

If the agent believes the listing is in the bag, they may underestimate the value of your home for a faster sale. A faster sale means less work for the agent and they can move on to their next transaction.

14. The Value of Your Home Isn’t Determined by How You’ve Kept It Up

An agent might not be strong enough to communicate how a home’s value is truly determined. One might think it’s what you paid for it plus all the updates. That’s a poor method. The better path is a manually-adjusted CMA based on the best available comps. Sure, it’s more work but it’s also much, more accurate.

16. Open Houses Help Agents More than Home Sellers

This one might fool you. The owner believes their agent is working hard on open houses to get their home sold. Truth is, open houses are a great way for the listing agent to get new clients for themselves. Given our 21st century, hectic schedule, most people today schedule private showings that fit their busy schedules. Open houses don’t sell homes like they used to, that’s for sure.

17. How Much Time & Money Is Spent Marketing Your Home

It’s a challenge, sometimes, to find the best way to market certain homes for sale. I’ve seen agents talk about all the different ways they can market your home. But it’s rare for an agent to do all of them. Ask your agent directly, “Give me the specific ways that you will be marketing my home.”

18. You Might Be Better Off For Sale by Owner *gasp*

I can hear Realtors cringing from miles away. How could you?!? Well, if you want the truth, there are times when it’s better for the home owner to try a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). Even though the rate of successful FSBO has dropped over the years, if specific criteria are in place, it may be your best course of action.

Both Sides

Photo of a smart Louisville Realtor explaining the paperwork to her client
The smartest Louisville Realtor will explain the paperwork to her client, and if necessary, refer her to a real estate attorney for specific questions.

19. Whether They Are Full-Time or Part-Time

Very simple, yet very important. It’s extremely rare for a part-time agent to be a great agent. Full-time or bust should be your motto.

20. How Many Years They’ve Actually Been in the Business

I don’t want to know how many years the agent has been out of college, or in the world of business. I want to know many years the agent has been practicing real estate professionally. This is one career where you really can only learn in the field.

21. Where Their True Expertise Lies

How many times do you see an agent claim expertise in every time of real estate? Foreclosures, horse farms, rentals and relocation’s. The world of real estate is vast. We haven’t even touched on commercial. Find out what your agent does best by finding out what they do most often.

22. Certain Real Estate Professionals Area Idiots

It takes courage to admit the truth. But just like every occupation, real estate has its share of incompetent people. Most agents won’t call out any of them specifically (and that’s probably smart) but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

23. Read Everything You Sign

Having a Realtor you trust is key and if you do, you may skip some of the boiler plate. But if there’s any doubt in your mind, get out your “readers” and read, read, read until you understand it all. It’s very important.

24. How The Commission Check Is Divided Up

Most consumers believe the agent gets to keep the large check they see handed out at the closing. Not true. It gets divided up by the broker based on their agreement with the agent. Then, there’s taxes that need to come out. Next comes marketing expenses. Don’t forget about mandatory license fees, continuing education and E&O insurance! When it’s all said and done, the agent keeps a much smaller piece of that check.

25. The Best Deals Are Win Win

This doesn’t sound logical but based on my experience it’s actually true. When both parties are happy with the terms of the deal, it’s just better for everyone.

26. Highly Successful Agents Don’t Have Enough Time for Their Clients

If you stop and think, this one is common sense. There are only so many hours in the day. The most successful agents don’t have more hours to work with than any other agent. What they do have is assistants or as they like to call it, a team. Handing off work to assistants means it’s being handled by someone less expert. Take this into consideration when you’re looking for your next Realtor.

27. You Might Be Better Off with Another Realtor *GASP!*

Sometimes it’s just a bad fit. Sometimes the agent misrepresented herself. Sometimes something unforseen occurred and it’s just better to cut your losses and begin again. It’s business. If things aren’t working, find another Realtor and move forward. If you hear these words coming from your agent, maybe you are the problem. *wink*