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6 Signs Your Real Estate Agent Is Playing Both Sides

real estate agent and buyer on bench
Your real estate agent should be on your side and serve your best interests. (Not their own.)

When you’re house-hunting, you want to find a real estate agent who is your biggest advocate, keeping your best interests (and your bank account) in mind. Unfortunately, some agents don’t operate this way. A higher purchase price benefits them, so you need to trust that they’ll fight for the lowest price possible on that home for sale in Denver, CO.

But how can you tell if your agent is actually playing double agent, serving their own interests as much as yours? Here are six indications that your real estate agent might be two-timing you.

“How motivated are you?”

If, in an initial meeting, your new agent asks this question, a red flag should go up. A buyer’s agent shouldn’t be driven by dollar signs, and this question indicates they’re most likely trying to determine how much time and energy they should put into your home-shopping cause.

Of course, that’s how the business works — but do you really want someone working for you who doesn’t hide the fact that they’re thinking about how quickly they’ll get paid? Your motivation should be to put in an offer when the house is right — not to help an agent pad their bank account. Starting out the nerve-racking buying process with a blatantly self-interested agent is not likely to quell your nerves when you get further into the sale.

They ignore your budget

You were very clear about your price range, yet your agent keeps showing you properties that are way beyond your means. Sound familiar?

Sure, sometimes it’s worth paying a little extra to get the house of your dreams; it might also be that you’ve settled on an unrealistic budget and need to get a grip on the realities of the market. But if your agent is surprising you over and over again with homes listed above your price cap, they might be serving their needs more than your own.

If you’re feeling suspicious, check the most recent listings in your area and make sure that other, more reasonably priced homes haven’t come on the market. Listings on Trulia can help you easily gauge what comps are going for in the neighborhoods you’re targeting — and raise your budget, if need be.

Insider baseball

Does your agent seem to know an awful lot about the sellers of the house you’re interested in? That might be a red flag that they’re in cahoots with the selling agent — potentially a friend or old colleague from another agency whom they’re trying to help out with a commission. Or it might mean that they’re friends with the sellers (there are a lot of small towns in this country, after all) and want to see them get a great price for their home. Either way, your agent is serving multiple interests at once when they should be serving only yours.

Too much searching pressure

Is your agent pushing you to submit an offer on a place you’re not in love with? Even when you’ve expressed interest in other homes? They might be more enamored with the property’s potential for a bidding war than you are with the property.

A good real estate agent should only push you (gently!) to give a space a second chance if they think the place fulfills your wish list in ways you haven’t considered. But if they’re actually trying to squeeze an offer out of you, you should think twice about your agent’s motivations.

Too much purchase price pressure

Everything was going well until you found your perfect home and began the negotiating process. Now it feels as if your agent just wants to get the deal done, even if it means you could end up paying more than you want (or can comfortably afford). The buyer’s agent should be haggling with the seller’s agent, then coming back to you to explain what else you should negotiate into the deal. Yet you might find yourself convincing your agent that no, you don’t want to spend $20,000 more just to get the agreement signed, even if that does come down to just a few dollars a month in mortgage payments.

They pull a disappearing act

So you finally put an offer in on a home, and suddenly your agent isn’t returning your calls, even though the home inspection and various other borrowing questions loom. Your agent should be helping you through the entire home-buying process, not just the house hunt.

Ostensibly, it’s in your agent’s best interest to make the process run smoothly until the end, but they could be gambling on the sale going through without a hitch — and have refocused their energies on greener pastures: new clients. There’s not much you can do at this stage in the game, except avoid recommending this agent to your friends.

Have you had a bad experience with a real estate agent? What was your red flag? Share in the comments!