If your agent says one of these phrases, they could be leading you astray.
There are times in life when you really should have just kept quiet. Like that time you asked when the lady at the grocery checkout was due (except she wasn’t pregnant). Or the time you asked your co-worker how her vacation was (not realizing she had been at a family member’s funeral). As these foot-in-mouth moments show, there are some things your real estate agent should never say to you when you’re shopping for a home for sale in San Antonio, TX.
Here are the seven things your real estate agent should never say to you. If they do? It might be time for a change.
1. “You don’t need a home inspection”
As in, don’t have anyone look over the house to make sure it’s OK to live in? Yeah, that’s a major red flag. No matter what type of home you’re buying — a condo, townhome, duplex, single-family — always, always get an inspection. “Every buyer has the right to have a home inspection,” says Rachel Hillman, owner of Hillman Homes in West Newton, MA. “Even if a home is new or the condo has exterior maintenance that is covered in the condo fee, there are benefits to having a home inspection. Buyers will learn how to take care of the property as well as understand the life expectancy of the systems in the house.”
2. “I read the contract for you, just sign on the line”
You can probably hear your mother whispering firmly in your ear right now: “Always read a contract before signing.” And she’s right. There’s no telling what things could’ve been snuck into the contract. “As real estate agents, we read a lot of contracts and work closely with attorneys, but we are not attorneys,” explains Hillman. “An agent should never tell a buyer to sign something that they have not read. This is probably the most expensive asset in their portfolio, and they should have attorney representation. Don’t sign a contract unless you have read the contract and had an attorney review it for you.”
3. “That smell will go away”
Don’t believe them: It won’t. “Real estate agents will say that a dog or cat smell will dissipate once the animals are removed, and that’s not the case,” says Caroline Blazovsky, a national healthy home expert and home inspector. “Urine can penetrate walls and flooring, leaving behind smells, and animal proteins can take years of cleaning to remove. Many people purchase a house and find they cannot live in the home due to animal proteins. This is more common than you think! Ducts need to be cleaned and flooring assessed to make sure that you are not going to encounter a problem once you move in.” Whether it’s pet smells or cigarette odor, if you’re set on the home, Blazovsky recommends negotiating duct-cleaning costs into the purchase price, as well as negotiating the cost of new carpeting, if needed.
4. “The house has city water, so you’re safe”
Not so, says Blazovsky. “Real estate agents often see a treatment system and think the water has been taken care of. Do not assume this. Have your water tested on any sale, city water or well,” she warns. “This is something you cannot change once you move into the home. Some houses have high chlorination byproducts, elevated chlorine levels, arsenic, lead, radiological, and chemicals in the water. Never assume the water is OK just because your real estate agent tells you it is city water.” Testing isn’t cheap — a water test will run you about $300 — but it’s much better than finding out the hard way that your water isn’t safe.
5. “I know you only want to spend a certain amount, but let’s look at these homes that are listed over budget”
Your real estate agent knows going into the home-search process how much you want (and can afford) to spend. So if they bring you a home that’s above your budget, be wary. “An agent must know and should respect a client’s budget — and be aware that even though the client may be approved for a higher figure, if the preference is for a less expensive property, those are the properties that should be shown,” explains Don Tepper, a real estate agent with Long & Foster in Alexandria, VA.
6. “I don’t do email”
Sure, they may be one of the kindest agents in town, but if they resist the use of technology when it comes to communicating with you and sending documents (especially if it’s your preferred method of communication), you should be concerned. Home sales today are very digital: You should expect to receive and sign documents electronically, and be able to have a short conversation with your agent via text if you prefer. “In a market where homes are selling quickly, an agent who can’t operate current business technology will not be able to ‘win’ the contract for you,” says Wendy Flynn, a real estate agent with Keller Williams College Station in College Station, TX. “This is especially true for a listing agent: 90% of homebuyers look for homes online first. If your listing agent can’t get your home online effectively to promote it, you are at a great disadvantage.”
7. “I’ve set up 20 homes for you to look at today, and we’re on a tight schedule. We can spend only 10 minutes at each home”
Hold your horses, cowboy! “Homebuyers need time to look closely at a home and process what they are looking at,” explains Flynn. “When you see too many homes at once, homebuyers — not to mention their real estate agents — cannot remember which house had the yard they liked or had the old appliances that would definitely need to be replaced. My max schedule is to view six homes across two hours. The only time I’ll make an exception to this is when a buyer is coming in from out of town and only has one or two days to look at properties.”