Help me grade our real estate agent

For 3-4 months now we’ve been on the hunt for our first house. :slight_smile: :confused: :eek:

We studied the market for over a year and our paperwork is in order. The first house we wanted to buy was sold the day after we saw it, but we are encouraged that many have been close to exactly what we’re looking for.

Lately, however, when we vigorously scour real estate, newspaper and Graig’s List websites all we find are listings without prices or dates the houses are open to the public. Often even addresses are missing.

The result is that we must give our real estate agent a long-ish list of houses that meet our criteria–as best we can with limited info. He then has to weed out homes outside our price range. Plus we need him along or we can’t get into the houses to see them.

He’s been an agent 4-5 years so having him along is valuable, sure but if he’s not available we can’t hunt. Instead we pace the floor in our tiny apartment and imagine our perfect bungalow being sold to cretins who will paint it lime green and leave the Christmas lights up year round.

We’ve lost several weekends so far because his kid had some event, or some such. He won’t tell us in advance which weekends–or which day on a weekend–he’ll be available. (We prefer Sundays, but could switch with enough notice. He doesn’t seem to have other clients on weekends)

We don’t want to be ‘Clients from Hell,’ but we don’t want to be pansies, either–this is a FREAKIN’ BIG DEAL to us!

So, Ye of much experience and wisdom…what nuggets of advice can you provide my Lady and me?

And thank you in advance for your kind interest and effort.
One more little detail: there’s a whole herd of ramifications here because…

he’s also our brother-in-law.

Is there a particular reason you’re obligated to working through this specific agent? If he’s not doing the job you want then look for another one. Then let the first guy know he’s got competition. In-law or not, you’re seeing him in his professional capacity and if he can’t deal with you in a professional manner then drop him like a hot rock.

Just look at this as entry number 12,863 of why business and personal relationships should not be mixed.

Ha. Brother in law? Yeah, you’re screwed. I wouldnt hesitate to fire this guy, from a business perspective. How you handle the fallout is up to you. Maybe you can give him a couple hundred for his expenses while you calmly explain why this business relationship isn’t working. Hint, dont bring up the kid directly.

Everyone I know that has chosen a realtor based on the fact that they are related to the person, or the person is a friend-of-a-friend, has ended up being very disappointed in their realtor.

A realtor’s best friends is referrals. Referrals for doing a good job, not for being alive. You will definitely get better service from someone who comes recommended.

What if you were getting a different kind of service from your BIL? What if he was supposed to come mow your lawn, or deliver your groceries? What if he was hired to re-finish your bathroom? Would you keep his services with this track record & level of service? Would you keep a landscaper or a contractor that you weren’t related to that had this track record?

I’d hope you wouldn’t. Can him.

ETA: While it’s perfectly cool to do all your own searches for houses, any realtor worth his/her salt will be finding houses to meet your criteria, every day. I knew exactly what property I wanted to buy, and my realtor showed up with 10 printouts of other places she thought I might be interested in. That is what you pay them to do, not just to handle the paperwork at the end of the deal.

We were damned if we did and damned if we didn’t work with our bro-in-law–we knew that going in. He would have been justified to plead ‘guilty without trial.’ We hoped he’d knock himself out to prove himself.

What I didn’t make clear in my OP is that I’d like to know what professional real estate agents are expected to do, so I can realistically evaluate his work and make specific–and justified–requests for improvement. Maybe he’s doing pretty well on the whole and I’m just ignorant of what to expect. Thanks to date to neuroman and Alpha Twit.

And thanks to ZipperJJ (and anyone else who gets in while I’m crafting a witty and meaningful response).

My boyfriend was casually looking at condos three summers ago, the agent who took us around is still emailing to ask if he’s ready to look at properties again. And when he was looking, she was the one doing the research, if he was interested enough to have a look-see she had things set up in less than a day. Admittedly we were available during the week, but still …

So, yeah, they’re supposed to be available to take you around. No question. If you even have to ask that then I think you need to find someone else.

ETA: If the guy doesn’t work weekends, and you only look on the weekends, then he should just come out and say this isn’t going to work.

That’s obviously why you are chafing.

[Realtor here] Perhaps you are trying to do too much yourself, but he has the tools? It’s pretty wonderful what non-agents can find online, but so far the tools agents have available seem to be superior. If you gave me a geographic range, price range, and other specifications (number of bedrooms, square footage, etc., etc.) I could narrow everything down and provide brochures of everything remaining with prices and maps with one search.

Our company even has a semi-automated showing service. Call up our 800 number and a super-agent will set up all showings for you. If you are a seller, we can give you a personal, online link to the data for your property where you can see what was shown, by whom, and the comments made by the buyers. It’s pretty amazing what features are available to tech-savvy brokers.

Maybe your BIL isn’t one of those.

Yay, Musicat! She sounds like your kind of realtor.

I absolutely agree with ZipperJJ - any realtor worth their salt will be looking for you on their own, not waiting around for you. And if you aren’t available except on weekends - he should be previewing them for you to knock out ones he knows won’t be good - therefore using your time more effectively. That way if he sees one that’s hot and might not be on the market long - he can call you and get you out there.

Any realtor that gives you the run around and doesn’t plan is not hungry enough for your business.

Walk away.

At nine last night, our BIL/agent informed us by email that he “might” be available sometime Saturday to view houses.

My Lady and I decided that this has gone on too long.

I need to know:

  1. How common is it for clients like us to be available on weekends only.

  2. Are we correct that we owe him nothing since we are in effect firing him. He’s taken us out four times in the past 3 months. He did put in unknown hours checking the prices of homes (most of which we provided).

Any other information/comments would be appreciated, as well.

When I worked with my family, doing what I do professionally, I worked twice as hard and gave them the ‘family discount.’ It a pity my b-i-l went to a different school of thought.

oh well.

You owe him nothing (as a realtor). What you decide to do as family is entirely different, but if you were a non family client and he failed to find you a house he earns nothing.

I would definitely shop around and find an agent you’re more comfortable will do the leg work you need. Being available on weekends only is not unusual at all.

When we bought our last house we used MLS to find several houses that we thought we would like to see. Our agent used those and the reason why we thought we’d like them to compile a list. She previewed most of those on the list, walked through the sheets with us, giving us more information than was available on them and made appointments for the ones we were most interested in. She was awesome and we would absolutely use her again.

Question: did you sign a buyer’s agreement with him? If you did - read it over. If you didn’t, you are free and clear to walk. And you don’t owe him anything. As your BIL - give him a gift card to a restaurant as a “thanks” and be done with it.

And yes, it’s very common for couples to only have the weekends to look. For me, i had the weekends and/or 1-2 weeknights - but my husband had the weekends only.

It’s a given that anyone who is a realtor will be working the majority of their weekends, especially during the spring & summer when most families are looking to buy.

Very typical in my area (tourist-oriented location). Most of my showings are on weekends.

Unless you have another arrangement in writing, you owe him nothing. He makes his income from you only if he sells something.

Just to be fair, tell him you no longer require his services. If you speak to another agent, the new agent is likely to ask, “Are you working with an agent right now?” Your answer should be, “No, not any more.” Don’t make the relationships ambiguous to either party.

Also get a list of the properties your BIL has shown you. Should you ever make an offer on one of those, he has every right to declare he was the “Procurring Cause,” which means he was responsible for introducing you to the property, and he might claim to be owed the commission. This will make the other agent upset, obviously, so it would be only fair to let the new agent in on the list.

You might consider hiring the new agent as a Buyer’s Agent. States vary, but in my state an agent can represent the buyer instead of the seller. This is to your advantage in many ways.

What would that cost? Depends on the agreement, but it probably won’t cost you anything unless compensation is not forthcoming otherwise.

Example: You make an offer for a property already listed in the MLS. Compensation will be offered thru the MLS mechanism by the seller. If you make an offer on any property that is NOT listed, you most likely will be obligated to pay part or all of the commission. When I do this, I usually write in the offer that the seller pays the commission, but almost anything is possible.

A buyer agency allows your agent to investigate EVERYTHING, not just MLS listings, but FSBOs and properties not on the market.

The agency agreement can be limited by length of time, geographic area, price range, whatever.

That depends, as melodyharmonius says:

If you did, since it is a personal service contract, it can be cancelled in writing, at least in my state. YMMV, I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, so check with an attorney as needed.

This is a buyer’s market, and realtors are under a lot of pressure to sell houses. Not only is the market chock full of houses for sale for cheap, but their commissions are way down because of it. Your realtor should be showing you houses on your schedule, not his. They’re just high-falutin salesmen, and your brother-in-law is doing a shit job.

Both times I bought a house I could have walked from the realtor at any time and paid nothing because I signed nothing. Actually, I should have for my last one, she was terrible.

I’m a commercial real estate agent. The no notice thing is absolutely absurd. It’s utterly unprofessional. You don’t keep active clients dangling. You need to let him know very directly that your time is limited and if he can’t show you spaces on your time line you’re going to have to move on.

If you’re a residential realtor you need to be freeing up your weekends for showings or have an assistant or office buddy that can take over your showings if you are indisposed. That’s real estate 101.

Having said this four months is a relatively lengthy time to have been actively looking at houses without having secured a deal. Agents only have their time to sell. If agents have dithering clients or fussy clients with requirements that are hard to place (for whatever reason) they will often get shuffled to lower priority categories as time goes by.

You need to have a heart to heart with your BIL about whether this relationship is working for both of you.

Tell him that as a professional and reliable realtor, he makes a great brother-in-law.

We’ve only ever worked with one realtor, but she was ALWAYS available, to the point where sometimes I would feel a little hunted (“sweetie, she just called again with two more houses she thinks we should look at.” “didn’t she just call yesterday?”). We usually went to look at places on weekends and lunchtimes, but even on the odd occasion when we wanted to do something at an odd time she was more than accommodating.

In fact, the only time I can remember that she had to cancel an appointment was when a good friend of hers DIED and she had to go to the funeral, and she was extremely apologetic about it (we, obviously, told her it was just fine) and tried to reschedule for as close to the first time as possible.

If this is bad, think of if you actually find a place and have to schedule multiple walk-throughs with the owners, inspections, paper signings, meetings with escrow, and so on. That part was the part where we really appreciated having an on-the-ball agent.

So yeah, your brother-in-law gets a D in my book.

This. Our realtor was available pretty much all the time, including all the times I fervently hoped she wouldn’t be because I had stuff to do and the wife demanded I come along. :smiley:

I would just go ahead and say, “Steve (or whatever), we think you’ve done a great job, but your schedule just doesn’t really work for us and ours doesn’t really work for you. We think it would probably be best if we find another agent.”

Fire him. This is a big deal and your BIL is treating it as a favor.

If you know of a neighborhood that you especially like, look around on the real estate signs. There are usually one or two who “specialize” in that area and who can tip you off before a house is actually listed.