Dec 07, 2010

Real Estate Agent References: Ask for Negative Ones?

A friend recently told me about his novel approach to choosing a real estate agent to sell his house. He asked not only for the usual marketing plan and analysis of comparable properties, but for references - no, that's not the novel part yet - references from people who hated the agent, who complained of a bad experience.

One agent never called back. A couple of others ignored that  part of his request.

But one agent did, in fact, give my friend the names of people who'd been unhappy with her services. He listened to their complaints - for example, one homeseller felt she'd been slow to deal with a situation where a passing truck had knocked over the "For Sale" sign - and ultimately decided they weren't  fatal.

Impressed with the rest of the agent's presentation, my friend decided to hire her. He was delighted with the results, and now can't speak highly enough of her.

Would I recommend adding a request for negative references to your list of questions for agents? It's certainly unorthodox, and might send more than one agent running for the hills.

And even people who give glowing reviews can, with enough sounding out, alert you to an agent's weaker points. Furthermore, a savvy agent probably wouldn't give you names of the people who really, really hated him or her - more likely the ones who had a few small beefs. But if you're having trouble getting a good sense of a particular agent, or choosing which one among them you'd most like to work with, you might give my friend's approach a try! Let me know what happens.