Is your real estate agent the real deal or a clever con artist?

Wednesday January 20 2021

Finding a trustworthy real estate agent is difficult, especially when your buying for the first time. PHOTO/Rachel Mabala


The job of a real estate agent is now a highly sought-after career, especially in the booming market that is the Kenyan real estate industry.

Also known as brokers or realtors, real estate agents wear many hats in the course of their work, consultants, salespeople, marketers, a buyer’s ‘advocate’, managers, negotiators and so on.

Many buyers have very little experience with real estate agents, and on these grounds, may not be able to differentiate a good real estate agent from a bad one.

“Being a real estate agent is not about the money, though that’s nice to have, at the end of the day, it is really about matching the right buyer to the right seller,” says Ms Robyn T. Emerson, the regional director, RE/MAX Kenya.

According to Emerson, buyers should engage the services of a real estate agent licensed by relevant estate agency bodies and with clean professional standing .

Good real estate agents can be difficult to find if one doesn’t know the qualities to look for, and the listing below gives such.


Looks the part

Is professional, presentable and experienced

The real estate agents are the first link between sellers and buyers, and as such, an agent’s first impression can determine whether a sale is achieved or not.

“A real estate agent should always be appropriately groomed and well presented, in order to inspire confidence in the client they will meet for viewing,” says Ms Emerson. If the first impression of an agent is that of a poorly groomed individual with poor communication skills, seems uneducated and is disorganised, that can be reason enough to look elsewhere.

According to Ms Emerson, a professional agent is able to inspire confidence on the first meeting, is able to ensure that the property has been well prepared by seller before presentation to the buyer for viewing, is honest when preparing listing report for property on sale, sets aside time to visit the property, takes good and strategic photos for use in property listing and isn’t afraid of giving the client their list of previous clients as references— and the list of deals closed from past transactions is convincing.

A good real estate agent also offers memorable service to clients, engages in high level corporate marketing for client property to ensure it gets a buyer as quickly as possible and is able to solve disputes arising from sale or purchase of property.

Watch out for for agents who are always distracted by phone calls or keep interjecting with matters not relevant to needs of a client,  lack confidence and do not have convincing portfolio of deals closed despite being long in the market, lack knowledge of the market and the capability to solve disputes arising out of a sale or purchase of property, and is not registered with any relevant estate agency.

If your agent does not treat real estate as a full time profession or is in between jobs, and unable to provide sound advice on pricing of property, it it time to look elsewhere.

 “If he or she seems to not be conversant with real estate market trends and existing technology or all requirements needed for successful sale or purchase of property, lacks professional commitment and accountability, run and do not look back,” says Ms Emerson.

Communication skills

An outstanding real estate agent should be an excellent communicator who readily discloses all information regarding the property. He or she will exercise discretion in disclosing of confidential information. They will return calls and emails at lightning speed and are up on the latest technology.

Con artists posing as agents will withhold crucial information on existing disputes on property from buyers which might later impede development and cause losses or even disclose confidential information between them and buyer or seller.

“Most are unable to use existing and current communication technology to list and/or advertise property,” adds Ms Emerson.

Professional real estate agents will take time in conversation with buyer/seller and pay attention to understand their property needs and aspirations.

They will ask thoughtful questions to assist the client and will promptly communicate to the buyer or seller on their progress and make time to follow up and respond to communication from prospective buyers/sellers. A good agent is promotional and aggressive especially in a potential buyer/seller situation and has excellent customer service skills, says Ms Emerson.

Simple truths

Sticks to ethics

He or she also upholds high standards of integrity and shows high moral and ethical standards during transactions, while the con artist will not conduct due diligence before presenting property for viewing by potential buyers.

They will provide inadequate or wrong listing information for property, use poorly taken photos to list property and does not consult a staging professional or interior decorator where necessary, and this will have negative effect in the long run to the buyer/seller.

Respects clients time

According to Ms Emerson,  good real estate agents will respect their client’s time and will work consistently to keep appointments with buyers or sellers, works tirelessly until a deal is reached and the property is bought or sold.

He or she will take time to study and is well informed of trends in the market and existing technology.

“Good agents are totally committed and available to provide excellent service to client and ready to negotiate for price on behalf of the client and even go an extra mile to provide exceptional service and assist the client to find related services,” says Ms Emerson.

The simple truth thus remains, just as engineers, contractors, surveyors, architects, banks and other important professionals provide impressive portfolios to convince one to engage in their services when needed, there are real estate agents that are much more professional and diligent than others, and that will always show in the results of their work and references.