Narcissistic real estate agents?

HousesA common criticism of real estate agents is that they are manipulative and often focused on their own needs rather the home buyer or seller. Could it be that real estate agents are narcissists? Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D. describes a narcissist in the World of Psychology blog (psychcentral.com/blog) as someone who is preoccupied with “self, personal preferences, aspirations, needs, success, and how he/she is perceived by others.”

In an industry that relies on self promotion, it’s not as easy as you might think to spot a narcissist; they initially don’t often come across as manipulative or self centered. Dr. Lopez De Victoria describes extreme narcissists as being able to portray themselves in many ways to attract others to get what they want, including: being the likeable “nice person;” being the “proper diplomatic” person that appears to care (but really does not); and of course, being the charming person.

Dr. Lopez De Victoria says that having some amount of narcissism is normal and even healthy. So even though most agents are not extreme narcissists, it does not address the remorse expressed by some about the agents they chose. Even though industry experts recommend interviewing several agents before buying or listing a home, the majority of home buyers and sellers do not. According to the National Association of Realtors® 2014 Highlights of the Profile of Buyers and Sellers (realtor.rog), 70% of home sellers and about 66% of home buyers only contacted one agent before listing or buying a home. Regardless of the remorse expressed by home buyers and sellers about their agent, maybe they would have chosen to work with other agents if given the chance.

Although interviewing several agents before you buy or sell a home won’t eliminate all remorse over your choice of agent, it can certainly increase the probability of your satisfaction. If you choose to interview several agents, you might consider having a conversation about their experience, knowledge, and expertise. Additionally, knowledge about the local neighborhood market and surrounding neighborhoods is extremely important because market trends are hyper-local. You should also talk about the agent’s specialized experience, if your buying or selling situation is unique.

You should also ask about the agent’s limitations. This is an area where some agents get themselves into trouble is by not knowing, or are unwilling to disclose their limitations to potential buyers or sellers. By discussing the agent’s limitations, you can understand what the agent can and cannot do as well as know when the agent will refer you to other professionals for advice; this can also frame your expectations.

To get some insight into the agent’s way of thinking and service, you might consider asking atypical questions too! Surely an agent is more than happy to talk about their accomplishments, number of sales, and even name drop a past client or two; but what about the listings that didn’t sell? Have they been fired by a client?

The ratio of expired to sold listings can be telling; is the agent focused on servicing your listing or is it a “numbers game” for them? If an agent is open to sharing those figures, ask for reasons why the listings didn’t sell; was it about price or the marketing? If an agent has a history of being fired, it could be a possible indication of issues with the quality of service, including over-promising and not meeting expectations.

© Dan Krell
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