When It May Be Time to Break Up With Your Agent

Has your home been sitting on the market for months? Years? You’re not alone, and while there’s an obvious reason why – the lousy market! — it may also have something to do with your real estate agent. Should you break up? Ask yourself the following questions:

Are they getting back to you in a timely manner?
A good real estate agent — no matter how busy they are — is on the cell 24-7. He/she should not only be checking in with you regularly, by updating you on everything from inquiries to viewings to work that’s being done on your behalf to buyer feedback, but should also be accessible to answer any questions you might have (and not pawn you off to his/her assistant – that’s just unprofessional).

Do they know what they’re doing?
Inexperience can be a killer in a market that’s as weak as this one. You need someone who has been in the business full-time for at least several years, knows the area/your building, has the necessary contacts, and is current (up-to-speed with everything from market conditions, valuations to regulations). Your agent should also have a proven track record, and be using all of the tools at his/her disposal to properly – and aggressively — market your home because just listing your property on the MLS isn’t going to cut it (particularly if the photos are bad, or were taken several seasons ago). Creativity required.

Are you getting bad advice?
Is your real estate agent simply telling you to “be patient” as other comparable homes around you sell? Is he/she suggesting a major condition change – such as a huge price drop – because it was listed above market to begin with? You need advice from your agent, but you need good advice.  And a good agent will make suggestions (Maybe you should get a new vanity? Upgrade your light fixtures? Repair the broken screen? Get a fresh coat of paint?) that will ultimately make your home more attractive/sellable to prospective buyers.

Have you gotten ANY offers?
Is your agent telling you that there’s a lot of interest in your place? That they’re getting a lot of inquiries? Conducting a lot of viewings? That’s great, but if there aren’t any offers – not even a low ball – it could mean that your agent isn’t doing a great job “selling” your place/closing a deal.

And remember  — doing your due diligence ahead of time can help you avoid the need to ”have the talk” with your agent. Ask your friends and coworkers for recommendations, read online ratings and reviews on Zillow, and make sure you interview at least three agents before deciding whom to hire.

Vera Gibbons is a financial journalist based in New York City and is a contributor to Zillow Blog. Connect with her at http://veragibbons.com/.