In every profession, there are those who strive to do an exceptional job each and every day, and those who will take the easy route every time, even at the expense of a customer.  Unfortunately, the financial disasters of recent years have caused many people to lose faith in the real estate industry.  So what are the signs of a bad real estate agent, and what is the best way for you to avoid falling into that category?

1.  Bad first impression.  First impressions matter!  Whether we care to admit it or not, every one of us gets an instantaneous idea of a person's character upon first meeting them.  Other people's time is valuable, so being late to an appointment or showing up in gym clothes with only a business card in your pocket can immediately put a customer off and reconsider dealing with you.  If you know you have a meeting with a potential customer, make sure you arrive on time, dressed neatly, and have all of your initial meeting information ready to go.  Put together a welcome packet for both house hunters and sellers and include all of your contact information, including the best times to reach you, so that the customer feels confident that you are on top of your game.

2.  Lack of communication.  This is a deal killer in nearly every professional industry, but especially so in real estate.  Nothing turns off a customer like finding your listing online or getting your number from a for sale sign and then not being able to get in touch with you.  Or worse, enlisting you as their agent and getting their hopes up that you'll be assisting them in any way possible, and then never having their calls returned.  Most people are understanding enough to know that you can't always answer the phone right away, but there is never an excuse for not returning a call within 24 hours of receiving a message.  Keep communication flowing between you and both your prospective buyers and your listing sellers.  Try to call at minimum once a week to keep your clients updated on any new listings you've found to meet their wishes, or to let them know about any showings or feedback regarding their property for sale.  Just a quick 5 minutes out of your day can help your customers feel as though you're looking out for them and care that their needs are being met. 

3.  Only showing properties you or your brokerage is listing.  While many people may not know every nuance of real estate transactions, it's common knowledge to all that realtors are paid based on commission.  Only showing a house hunter properties that are listed by you or your company can make a customer feel as though you're only in it for the money, and not to look out for their best interests.  The same idea applies when it comes to suggesting a closing company or lender.  While it's perfectly acceptable to give a customer recommendations, and to highlight in-house properties that fit their criteria, insisting upon these things is a huge turn off.  Instead, present the customer with a list of potential properties that meet their needs, and allow them to choose which they're interested in without any pressure from you.  Let a client know that you've had a great experience with a certain title company or lender and highly recommend them, but stress that they are always free to shop around on their own if they like.

4.  Inexperienced or part-time agents.  While there are many agents out there who choose to sell real estate as a supplement to their "regular" jobs, be aware that this can be seen as a red flag by customers.  They may feel that you aren't going to be devoting your full attention to assisting them due to your other obligations.  If you are using real estate as a secondary employment, make sure you let your customers know what hours you will be available to assist them, and console them by telling them that while you're on the clock as an agent, that is your top priority.  

5.  Lack of advise.  Most homeowners or home buyers are overwhelmed with the transaction process, and look at their realtor as their main adviser on what to do and what not to do.  If a purchaser asks you what to do about the 25 year old roof on the home they're looking to buy, and you reply half-heartedly, seem disinterested, or try to minimize their concerns, chances are your deal is going to fall through.  Take charge of the situation so your customer knows that you're on their side.  If they have a question or concern, let them know how you plan to solve the problem to their satisfaction.

The most important thing in our industry is making the customer feel as if they are your top priority.  Be friendly, professional, knowledgeable, and available, and your customer satisfaction (and subsequently, your income) will improve with each passing month.  Take the proper steps to avoid these common mistakes, and be the best realtor you can be!