george nicola

By George Nicola (Expert Stager)

We asked ten people who have bought or sold a home in the past year about their real estate agent’s services.

Four of them mentioned that they had an awful experience with their realtors.

Three had mixed feelings about their experience.

Three were happy with their agent’s services.

The complexity of the real estate market, the urgency of planning for your finances, and the need to make a good deal can be relatively difficult for realtors because clients usually want all these factors taken into consideration asap.

People looking to buy or sell the property are in the process of hiring a real estate agent. Realtors’ due diligence is just as important as selecting the right mortgage advisor or accountant.

Find out what to look out for when hiring a good realtor who operates with high levels of integrity?
And learn how to distinguish good realtors from bad ones who will play dirty to close a deal.

In a nutshell, look out for these 16 tactics that good and bad real estate agents constantly use.

8 of the good real estate agents’ tactics include:

  1. Using home staging / virtual staging
  2. Using professional photography
  3. Using decluttering
  4. Creativity with their marketing
  5. Using videos for brand exposure
  6. Good communication and feedback
  7. Eye-catching websites with curb appeal
  8. Publishing real estate newsletters

8 of the bad real estate agents’ tactics include:

  1. Poor communication
  2. Too pushy
  3. Dual agency
  4. Selective showings
  5. Misleading on price
  6. Selling the neighbourhood
  7. Manipulating sales comparisons
  8. Too many open houses

What makes a good real estate agent?

Here are some key qualities and tactics that help make a good real estate agent:

  • Strong communication skills – Responds promptly, provides regular updates, listens to the client’s needs.
  • Local market expertise – Has in-depth knowledge of the local area, neighborhoods, comparisons, trends.
  • Creative marketing – Uses professional photography, videos, staging, eye-catching listings to market properties effectively.
  • Attention to detail – Helps prepare your home for sale through decluttering, cleaning, repairs, etc.
  • Negotiation skills – Works to negotiate the best price on your behalf as a buyer or seller.
  • High integrity – Puts the client’s interests first, not just their own commission. Avoid high pressure sales tactics.
  • Accessibility – Available to talk or show houses even outside normal business hours.
  • Passion – Truly cares about helping clients achieve their real estate dreams.

The best real estate agents utilize both traditional and digital marketing strategies.

Good real estate agent focus on forming strong relationships with clients through clear communication, market expertise, and excellent service.

These qualities can help lead to a smooth and successful home buying/selling experience.

What should a good realtor do for you?

Here are some of the key things a good realtor should do for you as their client:

  • Provide expert guidance on pricing your home competitively based on current market data and comparable sales. A good realtor will help you price your home to sell.
  • Handle advertising and marketing to reach qualified buyers through MLS listings, digital ads, open houses, etc. They should market the property effectively.
  • Screen potential buyers to ensure they are financially qualified and serious about purchasing.
  • Schedule and oversee all home showings and open houses. The realtor manages access and flow of prospects.
  • Offer staging advice to prepare your home for showings and highlight desirable features.
  • Negotiate the best possible price and terms on your behalf. A good realtor will work to negotiate in your favor.
  • Manage paperwork, contracts, and transactions details smoothly. They handle all complex documentation.
  • Provide availability for showings even after normal business hours or weekends.
  • Give updates on market changes and factors impacting the sale. Keep you informed.
  • Answer all your questions and concerns thoroughly and patiently.

The right realtor becomes your guide and advocate throughout the entire selling or buying process. Their expertise and work helps take the stress out of a real estate transaction for you as the client.

How to know if you have a good realtor?

A good realtor uses home staging / virtual staging

A good realtor must be well conversant with home staging/virtual staging techniques. Staging is a powerful tool for marketing your home to potential buyers or sellers in the property market. A real estate agent who can effectively use staging is likely to sell a home fast simply because selling an empty house is more difficult than selling a beautifully furnished one.

The traditional home staging incorporates physical furniture to help potential buyers know the ins and outs of the property before they move in. Realtors can also use virtual staging by taking photos of empty rooms and fully furnishing them using 3-D models of furniture along with 360-degree views of décor to make a home more inviting to buyers.

A good realtor uses professional photography

In the modern-day era of digital marketing, high-quality pictures make a huge difference if you want to sell your home quickly. Good realtors capitalize on professional photography tactics simply because it is one of the best marketing methods used by leading estate agents. Since no one is attracted to low-quality photos, great photography is inevitable if you want to beautifully highlight every detail of your home for potential buyers and tenants.

Rather than going out of your way to hire a professional photographer separately, select a real estate agent with immense experience in photographing homes and architecture. Your property can only stand out if your realtor has the knack to have your property photos professionally taken before showcasing them online.

Good realtor uses decluttering

When you are selling your house, always remember that potential buyers will notice every detail, especially the glitches. This is where decluttering comes in handy. Not only does decluttering prepare your home for sale, but it also helps potential buyers to visualize how they can utilize the various clean spaces in your home.

A good realtor helps you get rid of any distractions to present your property at its best. They ensure all surfaces and floors are free from paper, clothes, shoes, books, post-it notes, or any unnecessary stuff that robs the impeccability of the interiors. Before a photoshoot, the realtor should dust surfaces until they are dry and conceal all cords and wires that may distract the eye.

The good realtor is creative with their marketing

Good realtors use extensive marketing resources for buying, selling, or letting various types of property. Always select a realtor who is supported by a highly experienced and professional marketing team with unrivalled local knowledge and expertise that goes a long way in helping you market your property effectively.

A realtor who implements a creative marketing strategy should combine both traditional and modern techniques including referrals, flyers, newsletters, word-of-mouth, social media, email marketing, real estate listings, etc. Generally, creativity in a realtors’ marketing approach calls for innovation, integrity, passion, and results.

Ever good realtor uses videos for has brand exposure

Good real estate agents maximise the use of videos to attract the right buyers. They publish videos in various places on their website including the homepage, bio page, landing pages, blog section, etc. Creating short videos about their brand helps them gain a reputation as the leading local experts in the property market. Branding the videos with a logo also exudes authenticity.

Short, charming, high-quality animated videos and virtual tours can distinguish a realtor’s brand and give the business a touch of unique personality in the market. Be sure to look for realtors with animated videos that feature local landmarks or sites within the vicinity of your property because they can easily target potential buyers.

The good realtor has good communication and constant feedback

Lack of communication is one of the leading reasons why most home buyers or sellers are dissatisfied with their realtors. Since real estate is a people-oriented business, you should be wary of how a realtor communicates, whether he is explaining the buying process, negotiating an offer, or marketing to prospects on his website or social media.

A good real estate agent should be always a phone call away, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. During one-on-one conversations, analyse his body language, attitude, eye contact, and intonation, as these elements play a key role in conveying your messages to other people unambiguously. Generally, a realtor with good communication skills is proactive, reaches out, and provides regular updates without being asked.

Good realtor has eye-catching websites with curb appeal

The NAR in a Digital Age 2023 Report indicates that 95% of people looking for a realtor first visit real estate company websites. Good realtors understand that one of the best ways of attracting and retaining loyal customers is by designing an eye-catching website sprinkled with stunning imagery and inspiring messaging.

Since most potential homebuyers start looking for their most preferred property online, you are highly likely to convince them through listings on your website before they search elsewhere. A website that stands out from the crowd and builds trust with prospects includes the following:

  • HD pictures, videos, and virtual tours
  • An informative blog
  • Information about neighbourhoods
  • Search options by map or feature
  • Reliable advice from various experts

Good realtors publsh real estate newsletters

The modern-day real estate business world is predominantly digital and mobile, which means old-fashioned direct mail is gradually becoming extinct and unreliable.

However, publishing real estate newsletters sets many good realtors apart because it helps them directly deliver helpful information about the constantly changing property market to their intended audience.

With almost everyone having an email address, realtors who are serious about the longevity of their businesses publish weekly or monthly newsletters to update their potential and existing customers on changes in real estate laws, current mortgage rates, and benefits of homeownership, among others.

So naturally, customers always look forward to such insights, as it supplements their knowledge about the property market.

Tactics Used by Bad Realtors

Poor Communication

A realtor with poor communication skills is a red flag, and such unprofessionalism can be detected in various ways. The most unmistakable signs can begin with grammatical errors or spelling mistakes in their emails or are not articulate in their speech. If your realtor barely returns your calls, text messages or emails within 24-48 hours, and he does not update you on the progress of your sale, he is unprofessional.

Other forms of unprofessional communication that point towards a bad real estate agent include showing up late for appointments and meetings and ending up making sales presentations that are unreliable and sub-standard. Furthermore, their communication style can be too casual, such as using slang in emails and text messages.

Too Pushy

Even if you entirely rely on your realtor’s expertise to buy or sell a home, don’t allow him to push you around or exert pressure on you into making a decision that you might regret later. Unlike good realtors who put your interest first, bad realtors can be self-centred, as they will always push you into considering their selfish opinions rather than supporting yours. 

You have hired the wrong realtor once you feel like your real estate agent is pushy. Every customer expects that their agent will guide them through the buying or selling process smoothly and gently. However, a bad realtor will put pressure on you and strong-arm you to accept an offer or invest in a property that you may not be contented within the long run.

Dual Agency

Dual agency is one of the worst sins in real estate, so fire your realtor on the spot once you discover this bad tactic! A dual agency occurs when a realtor tries to represent the buyer and the seller concurrently without their consent. Technically, it is impossible because a realtor cannot serve the interests of both parties at the same time.

If the real estate successfully completes such a transaction, he is the one who benefits most. In a typical scenario, homebuyers usually want to spend as little as possible, while sellers expect to maximize their profits by finding a buyer who pays more. To be paid a double commission from the sale, a bad realtor would find a way of offering such a deal to both customers.

Selective Showings

Bad real estate agents will always use selective showings to get higher commissions. Typically, a realtor gets a commission for every house that sells through him. However, the selling agency and the listing agency usually split the commission, which is typically between 5 and 7 per cent of the price the home has been sold for.

In some cases, agents will take a commission of 2 or 3 per cent commission once they list a home. A bad realtor who wants to get a higher commission will only show you specific houses in your price range and ignore the ones that will give him less commission. 

Misleading on Price

Let’s face it. If you are selling your home, you will feel so good when a realtor tells you that it is worth more than you thought. Right? Don’t be fooled! While a good realtor will be honest about the price from the get-go, a bad realtor may draw you into this trap to get you to list it first.

Ill-advisedly, the outrageous price will push potential buyers away when it’s time for sale. Since the realtor already knows that he has your listing in the bag, and you are eager to sell the house, he will quickly convince you to drop the price and eventually sell for less.

Selling the Neighbourhood

While the location is one of the most important factors to focus on when buying or selling a home, beware of realtors who put too much emphasis on a neighbourhood instead of a specific property.

While the location is vital, you might regret buying a home above your budget just because you love the neighbourhood. Ensure your agent focuses on finding a home within your budget before assessing the neighbourhood.

Manipulating Sale Comparisons

Once a listing agent lists a home, he usually conducts a thorough market analysis of neighbouring homes that have been sold in recent times.

While this is a practical approach to estimating the listed property’s final selling price, bad realtors can manipulate the comparison houses (comps) to inflate its value deceivingly. If you feel dissatisfied, hire a certified appraiser to establish the actual value of your property.

Too Many Open Houses

Some bad realtors tell seller clients that holding open houses frequently is a great marketing approach. However, they fail to disclose that serious buyers always schedule showings to the seller.

With many strangers who are not serious buyers accessing your home, the open houses will help your realtor to prospect new buyers and sellers, but you may be attracting criminals


The agent you hire to help you buy or sell your home is crucial to your success.

From the abovementioned good and bad tactics used by realtors, start focusing on working with an agent who has your best interest at heart.

Main photo credit: Photo by Precondo CA on Unsplash 

Can you fire your realtor?

You can fire your realtor if they are not meeting your needs or expectations as a client. Review your representation agreement for any early termination clauses or notice requirements.

To smoothly transition to a new agent, document where you stand on listings, offers, paperwork and anything else they are handling so the new representative can easily take over. Also, be clear about why you are leaving in your termination notice to the realtor.

In summary, you can fire your real estate agent if they are not performing to your standards, while ensuring proper notice and a handoff plan to hire another who is a better fit.

Can you fire your realtor as a buyer?

Yes, you can fire your realtor as a buyer. To fire your realtor as a buyer, first check your buyer’s representation agreement to understand the terms for terminating the agreement. Then, send a formal termination letter to the realtor informing them that you are ending the agreement. It’s best to do this in writing and to give sufficient notice as outlined in your agreement.

Make sure to state the termination date clearly. You may need to pay any commissions if you buy a home the realtor showed you within a certain time period after terminating the agreement, so review the agreement terms. With proper notice, you can then hire a new realtor or proceed without one.

Can you fire your realtor as a seller?

As a seller you may decide to fire your realtor if you feel they are not adequately marketing or showing your home e.g. their strategy does not match the current market conditions.

To achieve the best outcome, review your listing agreement to understand the proper notice period and termination process. Send a formal termination letter by the required date.

Hire a new realtor immediately so you have continuous representation. By properly ending the agreement and promptly getting a new agent, you can transition to improved sales efforts.

Can you fire your realtor before closing?

You typically cannot fire your realtor at any time or right before closing, unless there is a specific clause allowing this in your representation agreement.

Here are some key points on firing a realtor as a buyer or seller:

  • Review your agreement terms – Most representation agreements have a notice period required for termination, such as 30 days. This must be followed.
  • Proper notice is required – To fire your realtor, you must provide formal written notice by the timeframe in the agreement, clearly stating your intent to terminate the relationship by a set date.
  • Commissions may still apply – Even if you fire your realtor, you will likely owe them commissions if you buy or sell a home under conditions outlined in the agreement.
  • There may be exceptions – Some agreements allow termination without cause with immediate notice. But this is rare.
  • No firing at the last minute – You cannot fire your realtor immediately before closing and avoid paying commission. There is typically a protection period.

So while you can fire your realtor, there is a proper termination process to follow based on your representation agreement. You cannot simply fire them on the spot without notice or cause right before closing. Proper protocol must be followed.

Can you fire your realtor if you just signed a contract?

Firing your realtor immediately after just signing a representation agreement is usually challenging:

  • Review the agreement terms – Most agreements have a set period that must elapse before the agreement can be terminated, such as 90 days.
  • Expect to owe commissions – If you signed an agreement, then buy or sell a home, you will likely owe the realtor commissions even if you terminate. The agreement obligates you.
  • Proper notice is still required – To fire the realtor after signing an agreement, you must still provide formal, written notice as specified in the agreement.
  • Legal issues could arise – Attempting to terminate prematurely or avoid commissions could prompt the realtor to take legal action.
  • Time to work together is needed – Signing an agreement implies you will work with that realtor; firing them immediately may raise questions.

While you are typically free to switch realtors after properly terminating an agreement, doing so immediately after signing could be perceived negatively and have financial consequences. It is best to provide some time to work together as intended when first entering into the agreement before looking to terminate.

So while legally possible in most cases, firing a realtor right after signing an agreement has risks. It is better to give the relationship a chance to succeed before taking steps to end it.

Can you fire the seller's realtor?

No, as the buyer you cannot directly fire the seller’s realtor. The seller’s realtor works for and represents the interests of the seller, not the buyer. Only the seller has the ability to fire their realtor.

As the buyer, you can:

  • Ask your realtor to communicate any concerns about the seller’s realtor to the seller. Your realtor can advise the seller, but cannot force them to fire their agent.
  • Refuse to work with the seller’s agent if you are highly uncomfortable with them. However, this could mean walking away from the home purchase.
  • File an ethics complaint with the local real estate board if the seller’s agent violates codes of conduct. But this still does not allow you to fire them.
  • Leave honest reviews of the seller’s agent after closing to make experiences transparent for other buyers. But this only impacts their future business, not your current sale.
  • Request a different agent from the seller’s brokerage represent the seller instead, if your issue is with a particular agent and not the entire brokerage.

Only the seller has the authority to terminate their listing agreement and fire their realtor. As the buyer, you have limited direct influence over the seller’s representation. Your options are indirect ways of providing feedback or refusing to interact with them.

Agrees to sign open listing agreement is a sign of a bad realtor

When evaluating signs of good and bad real estate agents, it’s telling to also examine what kinds of listing contracts agents prefer. The choice between exclusive and open listings reflects divergent broker motivations.

Less scrupulous agents may lean towards open listings to put in minimal effort, relying on sellers to find buyers themselves without guaranteed commissions. This tactic signals agents who lack capacity, experience, or motivation for best outcomes.

On the other hand, expert agents gravitate towards exclusive listings that contractually incentivize their peak sales efforts. They invest heavily in marketing and networking to directly source buyers. Exclusivity fuels their full commitment.

Essentially, exclusive listings underpin positive agent tactics optimizing sales through active promotion efforts and expansive searches for qualified buyers. Open listings reflect those hoping to do minimal work while collecting potential commissions. This provides insight on priorities.

So when assessing realtor tactics, consider if they strategically default to exclusive listings to motivate their greatest service. This small detail flags contrasting broker approaches – either fully empowering or passively enabling clients. Their preference indicates their process.