This indecision's bugging me....
August 8, 2009 7:58 PM   Subscribe

I've got some doubts about our current SoCal real estate agent. At first, there didn't seem to be a problem. But recent events have made me wonder if we're wasting his time.

His typical clientele is in the $600K+ range in Pasadena, but my hubby and I max out at $300k and are looking in Granada Hills, with some fairly stringent square footage requirements. At first it didn't seem to be a problem, but a few things have stood out to me and made me believe he thinks we're wasting his time.

1. He always advises us to offer at asking price or above. This seems like poor negotiation to me, but is that what we have to do in this market? Certainly it makes it easier for him if negotiations are shorter.
2. He tends to disregard our requirements. We've been out to see properties in the wrong neighborhoods, properties that have been stripped of all their copper, and other very distressed or very wrong homes. I feel like he's being dismissive of our concerns. Is he being insensitive, or just a little forgetful of our needs?
3. He keeps bringing up a 203k loan, which is some sort of double-loan thing, one for the property and one for repairs. My husband and I are only interested in 30-year fixed rate loans. Is his tendency to hype certain loan programs a bad sign?

We brought our concerns to him last week. He basically said, "Look, I sell houses that are much more expensive than this all the time. What reason would I have to lie or push you? You can take my advice or not, and in the end I'll do what you want. But I feel like I'm acting in your best interest when I tell you these things." These statements don't sit right with me because his actions don't seem to coincide with his words.

Other than these specific concerns, we work well together, but should we continue? Are we being unreasonable with our requirements? More information available from I know you're not my agent.
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
He sounds like a bad realtor to me. Get a better one.
posted by kate blank at 8:15 PM on August 8, 2009

I am no way an expert on this topic, but my gut says that if you don't fully trust or feel comfortable with your real estate agent, you should get a new one.
posted by emd3737 at 8:17 PM on August 8, 2009

To expand on my first comment, he's ignoring your home requirements, advising you to bid at or over asking (over asking? As an opening bid? In this market?) and pushing a loan you've explicitly said you don't want. You say you work well together other than those concerns, but what else IS there for a real estate agent to do?
posted by kate blank at 8:18 PM on August 8, 2009

Are you able to find properties in your price range online? You should be able to search the local MLS without too much effort, and generate up a list of places to consider. I get the impression that the agent seems to think that the only properties that meet your requirements are fixer-uppers, or in bad neighborhoods, or have some other flaws. Has he discussed that with you? (I have no idea about the area or local prices).

As far as the agent goes, have you hired him as a buyer's agent? I take from the word "sell" in the 3rd paragraph that he isn't. His fiduciary duty is to the sellers of the houses he shows (unless he is a buyer's agent for you). He will not help you negotiate. You are negotiating with the seller, and he is the stand-in for the seller - if you tell him "we will offer $290,000, but we are prepared to go to $320,000", he has a duty to inform the seller of this. A buyer's agent will help negotiate.

Good luck house-hunting!
posted by chookibing at 8:21 PM on August 8, 2009

properties that have been stripped of all their copper

300K should get you a better place than a tweaker den. DTMFAR
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:35 PM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

It sounds like his knowledge is more limited than he wants to admit. Either that or he thinks he can pressure you into doing things the way he wants them done.

Find another realtor.
posted by Cats' Concert at 8:51 PM on August 8, 2009

My husband is in the business. From my observation I'd say that your realtor is not a good fit for you. If your limit is half his usual range, then you are half his usual payday in his mind. He might be an excellent realtor for folks in that upper range, and he probably is very knowledgeable in THAT market, but that isn't YOUR market.

If this isn't working for you and you want to part ways quickly, go have a chat with his broker in charge. Usually something can be worked out....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:16 PM on August 8, 2009

The "show client a bunch of crap, then over-hype a somewhat suitable place pushing hard for a quick sale" strategy is extremely common.
posted by Chuckles at 9:24 PM on August 8, 2009

Realtors make a percentage of the house sale. There are two halves to this:
To represent the buyer (I think typically 3%)
To represent the seller (I think typically 3%)

So, why does he push you to buy more than you can afford? Because he makes commission - a percentage of the sale price. In my opinion, a really good realtor would rather sell you a house you can afford than try all day long to upsell you and then fail to make any money.

So, it's great that you get along with him, but ultimately you are paying him (three percent) to help you find a home and close on it. He's just not doing that.
posted by Houstonian at 5:25 AM on August 9, 2009

an agent that has forgotten that HE WORKS FOR YOU is not the agent you want...

DTMFA that works in this situation, right?
posted by HuronBob at 6:04 AM on August 9, 2009

Offering full price or above sounds really odd. I was a buyer's agent in California in 2000-2001 when prices were really starting to skyrocket and that strategy was common then. I am a agent in upstate NY now and don't exactly have my finger on the pulse of your market but from what I understand houses take a lot longer to sell now and that does not seem like a good idea. Are these properties that just came on the market or have they been sitting around for a while? If they have been sitting around for a while it's really questionable and sounds lazy and possibly unethical.

I'd get another agent, and try to find one that works in your area and price range if possible. You can call up real estate offices and ask them who in the office sells those type of properties on a regular basis and then go in and interview them. Ask them about what type of strategies in the past they have used to negotiate better prices and conditions for buyers they represent.
posted by Melsky at 6:21 AM on August 9, 2009

With the market the way it is right now, there are hundreds of real estate agents in the L.A. area who would be delighted to have your business and will be more than wiling to actually help you. Ditch this guy.
posted by corey flood at 8:46 AM on August 9, 2009

My family has been in the mortgage and real estate business in SoCal for over 30 years. Unfortunately, no one in the family is active in your area, or I'd recommend you to someone specific.

Here's the thing: I took a very quick swing on Zillow to see if your requirements are super out of line. Taking a look at Granada Hills, I see over 1400 homes for sale there. I plugged in a dollar amount, and I do see several hovering around your price range (though I don't know your other requirements). I would suggest trying this yourself, if you haven't already, to see just how many homes in the area fit your requirements.

This is really very much a buyer's market, and suggesting that you try to meet or exceed suggested asking price seems way, way out of line. Frankly, any time that the market isn't white hot, suggesting that you meet or exceed on your initial bid is out of line (though not uncommon as real estate agents aren't always the most ethical bunch; as noted above, their commission depends on what you're willing to pay, or overpay. It's a fact that you need to keep in mind).

As to point number two, that's another reason I think Zillow might be helpful in your case. If you find that there aren't that many properties with your requirements, that may (MAY) explain his fumbling around trying to find you one. I honestly doubt it, though. Keep in mind that especially recently, $600,000 in Pasadena did NOT buy you much of a home (well, not in South Pas anyway). So this agent may not know many homes at your price (it probably appears ludicrously low to him), and he may also just be unwilling to help (see: commission as percentage of house purchase).

I really cannot speak to point three, as it depends a great deal on your financial situation and what kind of loans are out there right now. Of course you want a 30 year fixed (who doesn't these days?), but do you qualify? Also keep in mind that some mortgage agents steer their clients away from loans that the clients qualify for, in favor of loans that will make the agent more money. The loan type he's pushing seems a little exotic, but I'm NOT an expert.

All in all, he may not be hungry for your business but as has been pointed out, there are lots of agents that are hungry for it especially in this market. Dump him (politely), ask your friends who live in Granada Hills for a rec, or start calling agents in that area yourself. There are plenty of real estate agents who can help you get what you want, and it sure doesn't seem like he's able to do that.
posted by librarylis at 1:36 PM on August 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

You are not wasting his time. He is wasting yours.
posted by carmicha at 6:53 PM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

you need a new realtor -- find a buyer's agent who will work exclusively on your behalf.
posted by unlucky.lisp at 11:08 AM on August 10, 2009

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