Top 10 Things You Never Want to Hear Your Real Estate Agent Say

How to Tell if You Need a Different Real Estate Agent

Many people buy a home once, twice, maybe three times in their life. This means you may not be well equipped to tell if you've hired the right agent. Here are the top 10 things you should never in a million years want to hear your agent say to you. If you do, you might consider running for the hills. Or, at the very least, interview other agents before making your final selection.

Realize, too, please, that much of the following is meant to amuse.

"I'm on the Work Release Program"

prisoner in jail
Agents Who Serve Time Are Not a Wise Choice. © Big Stock Photo

If your agent is unavailable to show homes on the weekend, it is possible your buyer's agent could be in jail. Lots of incarcerated inmates are released during the week to go to work. It's known as the "work release program."

I'm not saying that every agent who passes on showings because he prefers to spend time with his family on the weekends is covering up a trip to the pokey. Just because an agent's weekends are booked doesn't mean that he is actually munching on Hot Pockets and secretly scratching lines on a cell wall to mark the passing days. But, it's possible. Besides, do you really want to work with a criminal?

"This Home Mostly Survived the Fire"

home burned with roof barely intact
A Major Fire is Serious. © Big Stock Photo

It's not uncommon for fires to start in an attic. Exposed wiring, uncovered junction boxes or maybe a pair of frisky squirrels eagerly chomping down on ROMEX casings can start a fire. But fires also start inside walls, due to faulty wiring.

The thing is you may not ever know what caused a fire inside a home. The smell of smoke lingers, and it's hard to get rid of the odor. You also have no assurance that the fire didn't cause further damage, and perhaps that damage was overlooked or not addressed. Look for white paint on the rafters during an attic inspection. Often restoration crews paint over charred wood.

"My Car Has Been Repossessed"

keys and repossession tag
Don't Hire Agents Without a Car. © Big Stock Photo

Does your agent adequately explain why she wants to ride with you? Oh, she might tell you that her Mercedes roadster won't accommodate your family of four, but when you ask how many seconds it takes to lower the convertible roof into the trunk, she might stutter and the truth will come out.

Trust me, you don't want to know that her PT Cruiser was repossessed by the bank. Why? Because it would mean the agent is having financial troubles, and the last person you want giving you real estate advice is an agent whose future transportation depends on it.

"I Just Got My Real Estate License"

Clueless Man
Hey, I Just Got a Real Estate License!. © Big Stock Photo

Don't you love that wide-eyed bushy-tail look of a brand new agent, eager to make all her first mistakes -- which she will learn from, OMG, yet still make over and over -- on your transaction? Sure, her daddy went to school with your daddy, and she's friendly, bubbly and just brimming with vigor, so, it's hard to say no.

Let me help you. Just place your tongue on the roof of your mouth and clearly enunciate the n before the o. Or, you can simply say you have a different agent in mind. You do, too, because it's anybody else but her.

"I Think There's a Dead Body in the Bedroom"

Bedroom door slightly ajar
How Many Dead Bodies Are Behind the Bedroom Door?. © Big Stock Photo

There could be a dead body in the bedroom or it could be the seller, passed out. Hard to say. My advice: don't go in there. If the seller is conked out, you don't know if he sleeps with a gun under his pillow or not. He could wake up in a drunken stuper and do something his lawyer later regrets.

However, if the person in the bedroom is really dead, don't leave any fingerprints. As tempted as you may be, don't take any photographs, either. But do give careful consideration to whether you want to buy a home if the seller died in the house.

"Let's Not Tell Your Lender About the Seller Kickback"

Woman with finger to lips
Sssh. Don't Tell the Lender We're Breaking the Law. © Big Stock Photo

Believe it or not, if a buyer takes money from the seller under the table, it's considered to be mortgage fraud. Lenders are supposed to know everything that goes on in a real estate transaction. Receiving an authorized seller kickback is against the rules. That's because it looks like the sales price is inflated. If the sales price is inflated, the lender's security could be in jeopardy.

If an agent asks you to sign an agreement that is not given to the lender, the agent is participating in mortgage fraud and could end up in the work release program. See item number one above.

"Is That a Pot House Next Door?"

woman holding a marijuana leaf
Pot Houses in Suburbia Are Common. © Big Stock Photo

Years ago, marijuana growers used to sow their seeds in a closet, illuminated by hanging grow lights. But over time, they have become much more sophisticated. Now they buy brand new homes in suburbia where none of the neighbors talk to each other. They hang heavy drapes and cover every square inch of the floor with pot plants.

Often they arrive after dark in a van without windows. They zip into the garage, close the door and go about the lucrative business of growing indoor pot farms. They don't interact, so if nobody knows who lives in that house next door, well, could be criminals.

"The Seller Says the Snakes Only Come Out at Night"

Indigo snake head
How Many Snakes Do You Need to See to Scream?. © Big Stock Photo

When I was a kid, I recall crawling under cars on my belly to capture garden snakes and make them my pets. I don't know that kid. Maybe my mother drank too much Kool-Aid before I was born. Today, I can't stand snakes. I would not buy a home where snakes lived under the porch or came within 100 yards of my home.

In most states, sellers are required to disclose material facts to a buyer. In California, for example, sellers must complete a questionnaire that asks whether rodents or pests or other animals have been spotted on the property. Always read your disclosures carefully before closing.

"Someone Famous Once Lived Here -- a Mr. Manson and His Family"

Eye Peeping Through a Hole
Some Celebrity Homes Aren't Suitable for Resale. © Big Stock Photo

No doubt about it, stigmatized homes can generally be purchased for a lot less than the homes surrounding them, but not every buyer is comfortable buying a home where ghastly deeds have occurred. I'm also not certain that it's possible to totally remove blood stains from hardwood floors, but those types of stains do come out of carpets and off ceramic tile fairly easily.

Another problem is these homes tend to draw fans who drive from across the country to photograph those homes. You could end up being pestered by tourists and gawkers hanging around your front door. This alone is a good reason to talk to neighbors before buying.

"You Know, As it Happens, I'm Also a Mortgage Broker"

real estate agency women
You're Better Off Hiring a Specialist Who Doesn't Mix Your Interests. © Big Stock Photo

Some real estate professionals believe it is necessary to supplement their income by wearing a variety of different hats. As anybody who has been through getting a mortgage loan can tell you, it can't be that much work to print out 99 pages of documents to sign. The trouble is it's not as simple as it looks, and to be a loan specialist requires a ton of training, experience and knowledge.


To avoid a conflict of interest, I advise hiring separate real estate professionals who specialize in their line of work, and do not allow your real estate agent to package your mortgage financing or vice versa.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.