11 things real-estate agents wish they could tell you — but won't

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images‘Most of my clients wind up increasing their budget by 50% or more,’ one real-estate agent (not pictured) told Business Insider.
  • Business Insider surveyed real-estate agents around the country about what it’s really like working in their industry.
  • Many said they wished their clients knew all the behind-the-scenes work they do beyond showing homes.
  • Others said they wished their clients would stop assuming all real-estate agents are rich.
  • Here are 11 things real-estate agents wish they could tell their clients, from how much money they really make to “your home isn’t selling because you have no taste.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Life as a real-estate agent probably isn’t as glamorous as you’d think.

Business Insider surveyed real-estate agents around the country about what it’s really like working in the industry, the best and worst parts of their jobs, and what they wish they could tell their clients.

While some agents chose to remain anonymous, all were independently verified by Business Insider.

From how much money they really make to “your home isn’t selling because you have no taste,” here are 11 things real-estate agents wish they could tell their clients.


1. “It’s far less lucrative (per transaction) than you think.”

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Ryan Serhant

Being a real-estate agent isn’t as glamorous or lucrative as you might think, according to those in the industry.

Brian Suico, a realtor in Vancouver who sells homes priced at about $US700,000 on average, said he wished he could tell clients “how much we pay in real-estate fees and marketing.”

“Everyone thinks we are rich,” Suico said. “Some of us are, but like every business, we spend money to make money, and we take risks, and some of us are very talented at our jobs.”

An agent based in Washington added that most agents earn only “a small fraction of the gross commission paid, and we have to pay all of our expenses and taxes from that.”

“It’s far less lucrative (per transaction) than you think,” the agent said.


2. “I would never want to tell a client that they are unappreciative, but at times it definitely feels that way.”

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Many agents said they wished clients knew how much work they do behind the scenes.

“We don’t just open doors, and we wear many hats,” said Spencer Cutler, a Corcoran real-estate broker in New York City. “Yes, part of our job is to show expensive properties in Manhattan, but we’re also a transaction coordinator, marketer, therapist, salesperson, telemarketer, CFO, CEO, accountant, analyst, negotiator, teacher, etc.”

Claire Groome, an agent at Warburg Realty who sells homes that cost between $US1 million and $US20 million in New York City, said that brokers do a lot of work that goes unnoticed and that she wished clients knew “how hard (yet rewarding) our jobs are.”

“It’s an expertise,” Groome said.

Scot Dalbery from REAL New York, who deals with rental properties in New York City, expressed similar sentiments.

“Especially in the era we live in now where people think everything can be done instantly and for free through a website or app, clients don’t realise the amount of hours spent researching listings, calling agents, making appointments, verifying information, all while answering every text or email from the clients themselves,” he told Business Insider.

He added: “I would never want to tell a client that they are unappreciative, but at times it definitely feels that way.”


3. “You have no taste.”

Mary Hall Mayer, an agent at Warburg Realty in New York City, said she wished she could sometimes tell her clients one harsh truth: “You have no taste, which is why your property can’t achieve that price.”


4. “If you want to use your sister-in-law or a friend because they have a licence, don’t do it.”

Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

“Don’t listen to relatives, friends, Zillow, or Redfin,” a real-estate agent based in Washington state who sells homes that cost an average of $US400,000 told Business Insider.

Butch Haze, who specialises in homes in the $US3 million to $US10 million range in the San Francisco Bay Area, added that there’s a big difference between top real-estate agents and part-time agents.

“If you want to use your sister-in-law or a friend because they have a licence, don’t do it,” Haze told Business Insider. “You would be better off paying for their friendship, pay them $US10,000 because you love them, rather than risk the money you would be leaving on the table by using someone without the knowledge and experience of the very best. There is a reason most top agents are top agents.”


5. “Most of my clients wind up increasing their budget by 50% or more.”

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Adam Feinberg, an agent at Anchor NYC who sells homes with an average price of $US725,000, said he wished clients understood that they will often miss amazing opportunities if they’re not ready to increase their budget early in the search.

“Most of my clients wind up increasing their budget by 50% or more,” he said.


6. “Homeownership isn’t for everyone.”

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

“Homeownership isn’t for everyone,” David Tortolini, a realtor at Keller Williams in Virginia, told Business Insider. “Unless you can afford to take care of large problems when they arise, you probably shouldn’t own a home.”


7. “Sellers have a hard time accepting that their home needs an alternate look to get maximum results.”

Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Noemi Bitterman, an agent at Warburg Realty who sells homes in Manhattan and Brooklyn, told Business Insider she wished she could tell clients that their furniture “won’t showcase their property nicely” and that they need to properly stage their home if they want to get top dollar for it.

“It has been proven over and over again that staging a property gets it sold faster and at a premium price,” Bitterman said. “Sellers have a hard time accepting that their home needs an alternate look to get maximum results.”


8. “They would be shocked to know just how many people we actually work with at the same time.”

SHAUN CURRY/AFP/Getty Images

Greg Cooper, a broker at Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty in Austin, Texas, told Business Insider that he doesn’t keep much from his clients but that “maybe they would be shocked to know just how many people we actually work with at the same time.”

Cooper sells both residential and commercial real estate in the $US300,000 to $US8,000,000 range.


9. “You won’t find your dream home.”

Paul Bradbury / Getty Images

Jason Tsalkas, an agent at Compass who sells homes primarily in Brooklyn for $US650,000 to $US2 million, told Business Insider that he wishes he could tell excited first-time homebuyers that “you won’t find your dream home (yet)… AND THAT’S OK! Some properties just don’t exist under a certain price range. But it’s alright, we’ll check all the boxes we can and eventually, as you grow professionally, you’ll get to your dream home.”


10. “We hesitate to tell our clients … that we’re taking the weekend off to spend time with our families.”

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“We hesitate to tell our clients that we are going away on vacation or that we’re taking the weekend off to spend time with our families,” said Smitha Ramchandani, a broker-associate at SR Real Estate Group at Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty who sells homes in New Jersey and California.


11. “It will all work out.”

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Robin Kencel of The Robin Kencel Group at Compass in Connecticut, who sells homes between $US500,000 and $US28 million, said she wished she could tell clients that hurdles and disappointments are part of selling and buying.

“‘It will all work out,'” she said. “Whether a buyer or seller, things come up during the process at every stage that can be overwhelming, disappointing, confusing, or just plain annoying. I try to be both a problem-solver and a positive-energy infuser into the transaction.”

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