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Secrets of Finding A Good Real Estate Agent So You Don’t Get Screwed

home-owners-handshakeSo many people have told me horror stories about the real estate agent that they worked with. I’ve heard it all like, “My agent just disappeared after I signed a contract. They wouldn’t return any of my calls, texts or emails. The only person I talked to was their assistant. They didn’t even show up to closing!” Another one, “The agent I hired to sell my house put up a sign, a lockbox, emailed me an MLS sheet of my house listed but they never gave me any updates on what was going on. I didn’t get any reports or updates about the responses to their marketing efforts or changes that we should make. It was very frustrating. I know my house wasn’t a big expensive house but I expected a little more engagement. They didn’t even do the open house. They had some other agent host it. This was not what I signed up for.”

We have to remember that there are always two sides to every story so we can’t just label these agents as being horrible but we have to realize that people have expectations to how they “think” the process should go. Unfortunately, most popular areas have an overwhelmingly high percentage of “active” realtors servicing the area, so finding the right person to work with might be a bit stressful. Here are some secrets to finding the right real estate agent for you!

Interview – It’s not always about the commission and who has the lowest price to offer Dream home signyou. It’s about the quality of service and a marketing plan that you feel comfortable with to sell your home. Working with a real estate broker is like hiring an advertising agency, you want to go with someone you feel comfortable with and understands what your expectations of your relationship with them during the process. It doesn’t matter if the broker only charges 1% if you can never get them on the phone and they’re a poor communicator. Sometimes the saying, you get what you pay for, is true.

Name Matters– Not necessarily. Real Estate agents are independent contractors, so just because they have their license with a big name brokerage doesn’t mean that their marketing services will meet your expectations. This is why it’s important to ask questions like: What exactly does your marketing consists of? How often will I get updates? Is there a review period that if we are not seeing results with your current plan that it can be replaced with other marketing incentives? Will I be working with you or will someone else be responsible for coordinating the sale of my home?

iStock_000003050733SmallSpecialities and Niches – Not every realtor is the same. Some real estate agents have strengths or specialize in certain things or niches. For example, a real estate agent who has served in the military might have deep ties with the veteran and active duty members within their community. They might be extremely knowledgeable of working with clients using the VA loan and know the ins and outs of it.

This could be very beneficial for a seller to list their home with the agent because they probably have a lot of potential buyers within their network that could sell their home in a timely fashion. Working with an agent who is known for having a lot of listings may or may not be the best thing for a seller. Sometimes working with a real estate agent who is focused on first time home buyers might be able to get your home sold in record time because they concentrate on surrounding themselves with people who are in the market to purchase which is your desired end result.

blk fam 3Keep Your Mouth Shut – If you’ve ever watched a show about women getting married or have gone through the process, you’ve noticed that EVERYONE has something to say about how you should do it or what NOT to do. The same thing happens when you tell your friends and family members that you want to buy or sell your home. People come out of the woodwork telling you some crazy horror story about a bad experience that they had. I suggest that you don’t tell a lot of people or anyone until AFTER you close. If you need to discuss the process with anyone,  I suggest a trusted mentor or a financial advisor. Real Estate agents are held to a Code of Ethics and all illegal activity should be reported to the state’s department for professional licensing.

Personal Finance

Get It In Writing – You can minimize any confusion or lack of performance by having a copy of the listing presentation that details the services you will receive from that broker and their brokerage. This will help keep everyone on the same page of is expected and the order it should happen in. If you’re a buyer, your agent should have a buyer’s representation agreement. This will help you understand your agent’s role and responsibility in your home search.

Go With Your Gut – Real Estate Agents are people too. Most real estate agents have gotten into the industry because they love helping people so their intent is genuine. Unfortunately, in life, not everyone can get along with other people’s personality. As we mentioned it’s vital to interview the agent but you also need to go with your gut. I’ve learned in life that if I have a bad feeling in my gut about something or someone, nine times out of ten, it’s usually correct. The same thing goes for hiring a real estate agent. You’ll be working with this person on a close level so you need to make sure you feel comfortable, confident and safe with this person. Your real estate agent will be assisting you with contracts, possibly making recommendations to real estate service providers such as home inspectors, and coordinating with the other agent and the lenders to the close of your home. It’s important to be open and honest with your real estate agent and be confident that they are working on your behalf.


Remember, real estate agents are here to help you find the best home for you, within your approved priced range in the area you desire. Real Estate agents are not contractors, attornies, title companies and we can not talk directly to the client. Real Estate agents can only act as liaisons to protect both the buyer and seller. In return, we receive a commission check for our service at and only after you close on your home.

All real estate costs and credits have to be in writing and agreed upon by both the buyer and seller, there’s very little chance a realtor can add any additional fees without anyone noticing. In some states, the buyer is required to have a real estate attorney to be an additional layer to the agreed upon expenses and credits. The

MR900034391buyers and sellers are also protected by the mortgage company which hires a third party appraisal source to make sure the property is worth the purchase price. The title company makes sure that there are no liens or other people claiming to own the property before it’s transferred to the new owner. The mortgage company also has to be compliant with “TRID” mortgage laws that state the buyer has 3 business days to review the numbers and sign off on it before closing.

keys to the new house

Dishonest people are in EVERY industry. Thankfully with all the checks and balances put in place along with the clients doing their part to keep agreements in writing, the home buying and selling process can be a good experience for everyone involved.

Written By: Shena Omotola, Dream Home Specialist & Broker Owner of Skyward Realty – Skyward Realty services Chicago, Suburbs, and Northwest Indiana

P.S. Feel free to email me any questions. I’m always here to help.

Shena Omotola


2 thoughts on “Secrets of Finding A Good Real Estate Agent So You Don’t Get Screwed”

  1. My wife and I are thinking of hiring a real estate agent to sell our home. I liked your suggestion to take the time to interview potential agents before hiring. How many agents do you suggest I interview before deciding who to work with?

    1. Hi Earnest
      If you’re in the Chicagoland or NW Indiana area I’d be more than happy to help you. If not, my rule of thumb I suggest is that it’s not about the number of realtors you interview but the quality. Ask people who you trust and respect if they have any realtors that they personally used and would be happy to refer to you. If not you can always go to a housing website like to search for a realtor.

      Here are some pros and cons to ask and/or think about when you do meet with a realtor:

      – If the agent is a “team lead” – find out how THEY, personally will take care of you. Unfortunately, I’ve heard complaints from sellers that they hired “Top Producing Team Lead” agent only to be shuffled around their 15 million agents that work with them. They never knew who to contact for questions for follow up feedback from showings. They felt stressed out and felt that “this wasn’t what they signed up for”. Big teams are good for some people but know how much communication you would like to have and make sure you get it.

      – If the agent has a lot of homes sold – quantity does not always mean quality and those homes sold might be a total amount from EVERYONE in their team and not the agent themselves. Find out the marketing techniques that the agent will provide and what they think is the reason their listings sold. Some agents like to list a home lower than the current market value, with the hopes that they will have multiple offers and receive an offer over the asking price, but that tactic is not guaranteed.

      – If the agent belongs to a bigger or a boutique brokerage – the difference is in the person and not the brokerage. Some big box brokerages focus on sales quotas, so some agents are focused more on the burn and churn factor. Some boutique brokerages focus on specific areas. Focus on the realtor that you’re interviewing, find out what knowledge and value they bring to the table because at the end of the day everyone has a skillset. If anything sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

      – It’s not always about the fees – people tend to forget that real estate sales is a profession and that realtors don’t get paid every two weeks like a standard 9 to 5 employee. We only get paid when we close a deal, so it’s good to keep in mind that if an agent is offering a lot of marketing bells and whistles that they are probably paying for it upfront and out of their own pockets or out of their commission at closing. I would compare the marketing package that they are offering to the commission structure. If you need to negotiate, then most likely they will have to limit or eliminate one or more things off that list. The way I see it is that you get what you pay for, so make sure it’s beneficial for both parties involved.

      – Go with your gut! – you will be working WITH the realtor so make sure you feel comfortable with them. Selling your home, finding a new home, packing and moving is going to be stressful so make sure that the person you work with is a person you feel you can trust and communicates in a manner that best fits you. If you feel like the person is too pushy, combative, etc then just move on to someone else. You need to feel like the person is professional, ethical, and has your best interest with the sale of your home.

      Sorry for the long response, but I like to be as thorough as possible 🙂

      Good luck my friend!

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