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How to Ruin Your Reputation and Your Career as a Realtor: a Beginner’s Guide

If you’re new to the real estate game, there’s a good chance you’re still enjoying your honeymoon period. You’ve just started, maybe made a sale or two, and you’re feeling good. You’re honest, upstanding and professional, and you do your best to only accept listings that you feel good about selling. Every night, you go home and sleep like a baby, knowing full well that you’re working in the best interest of your clients.

Romantic though it may be, this honeymoon period is unlikely to last very long. The real estate game has a seedy underbelly a mile wide, with a healthy helping of devious realtors who blur the line between realtor and conman. These unethical realtors will do just about anything to make a sale, and in doing so hurt the reputation of all real estate professionals. While they are very much a small minority in the real estate community, their success often seems unfair.

To a newer arrival on the real estate scene, it may seem like the only way to get ahead is to sink to the level of these sorry reprobates. “After all, they’re making money hand over fist”, you say.  “If I don’t rip them off, someone else will. As long as it’s happening anyway, why shouldn’t I take advantage and add a zero or two to the end of my bank account balance?”

The downsides of using unethical tactics

Though it may not be immediately apparent, there are a lot of downsides to conducting yourself as described above while working as a realtor. Realtors who behave this way may seem to have it all figured out in the present, but give it a few years and you’ll bear witness to the pleasant sight of them kicking themselves for it. As one particular adage goes, karma is a…  

As a real estate professional, reputation is everything. If you make a habit out of stabbing people in the back, it won’t be long before your back is the target of someone else’s metaphorical knife. In this game, reputation means everything, and being an underhanded charlatan will net you a bad, bad reputation. So how can you avoid becoming like this in your professional life?

Today, we’re going to help you avoid exploiting these obnoxious and often illegal practices in your professional life as a realtor. In order to do this, we’re going to pose a hypothetical question: what should you do if you want to be the worst real estate agent you can possibly be? Here are some of the answers we came up with.

Accept overpriced and severely damaged listings

Most upstanding real estate agents won’t touch homes in poor condition, let alone those that are priced far above their market value. If the roof is caving in and there are damaged water lines in the walls, the sellers will have a heck of a time finding a real estate agent or realtor who will accept their home. That’s where you come in!

Using a wide variety of tactics (including some of those listed below), you’ll have little trouble finding buyers for this poorly maintained property. Play your cards right and you’ll get out with your seller’s fee in no time flat, leaving the buyers none the wiser. By the time they realize they’ve made a terrible financial miscalculation, you’ll be halfway to Vegas!

Charge buyers and sellers unreasonable prices

Sure, you could match the going rate for a real estate agent sellers fee. That would be the honest, upstanding thing to do. But you’re no honest, upstanding individual. In this hypothetical, you’re a greedy, manipulative and unethical professional with no goal other than to get rich in double time.

There’s only one problem; if you’re upfront about charging more money than everyone else, people will simply seek out your competition. The best way to circumvent this is by hiding as many fees, charges and added costs in the fine print as possible. Get a lawyer to make sure everything meets the minimum legal requirements for what is considered “above board” and you’re good to go!

Fabricate a fun, fake personality

In order to, uh, help your clients look past the critical flaws in the overpriced home you’re selling, you’re going to need to fake some empathy. Pretend you’re into the same things that they are, and that your lifestyle just so happens to align with theirs. It doesn’t matter how greatly your politics or ideals differ from theirs; all that matters is moving the listing!

If you’re trying to sell a home to an open minded and progressive couple, for example, verbally and nonverbally do your best to convince them that you have the same convictions. “I can feel the warmth and love here” you could say, as you walk into each room. “This home is so unique. It’s truly one of a kind!” This will do more than simply create a false sense of camaraderie between you and your clients; it will also lead to some severe disillusionment on their part.

For more conservative homebuyers, we’d recommend a different angle. Long-winded rants about California, free healthcare and socialism are sure to win them over, as are a few tasteful jabs at Democrats here and there. It doesn’t matter whether or not you actually think this way; this is a fake personality, so it doesn’t matter what you say!

Exploit your clients’ nostalgia

There’s an old saying that goes something like this: “Quiet doors sell a house, squeaky doors sell a home.” Virtually everyone remembers the squeaky doors of their childhood home; before breaking out the WD40 and lubricating the hinges on all the interior doors, consider playing the noise off as endearing and letting your clients’ nostalgia do the rest of the work!

This isn’t the only way you can exploit your client’s nostalgia; there are plenty of other home defects that can be played off as charming! Does the home have energy-inefficient single-pane glass windows? They aren’t inefficient, they’re “picturesque”! What’s that? The roof is in desperate need of repair? Nonsense! It’s simply “weathered” and “rustic”!

Pressure your clients into making hasty decisions

One of the key elements of being an underhanded and unethical realtor is speed. No, not substance abuse; this tactic is more or less just the practice of pressuring clients into signing contracts and making decisions before they’ve had an adequate amount of time to think things through. It may end up negatively affecting their personal and financial lives for years to come, but if you’re committed to being the worst realtor you can be, that shouldn’t matter!

A great way to do this is by carefully creating a false sense of urgency. You’re so busy, you can tell them. You’re giving them a great deal on this home, but it’s ok if they don’t want it; other buyers are desperate to get their hands on this one. Using this combination of feigned nonchalance and exaggerated haste, you’ll have their signatures on the deed before they have the time to think twice!

Use the Aunt Bertha and Uncle Tonoose initiative

Make sure that any potential home buyer knows that Aunt Bertha and Uncle Tonoose have already looked at the house and are ready to buy. These imaginary buyers are insufferable; they’re loud, overbearing and obnoxious, and they’ve been known to throw huge parties that keep adjacent homeowners up until the early hours of the morning.

If they were to buy a house, the neighborhood would never be the same. You can use the Aunt Bertha and Uncle Tonoose Initiative and tell the prospective home buyers that it is up to them to save the neighborhood, buy the house, fend off Bertha and Tonoose and keep everyone happy. Nevermind the fact that this may in many cases be prosecutable as fraud; you’re too smart for the authorities to catch you!


Well, that’s it. We hope you’ve enjoyed this thought experiment, and that it has helped you gain a better understanding of what you should definitely not do as a real estate agent. This article was by no means an indictment of all real estate professionals, but rather a lighthearted and humorous way to point out the excesses of a profession where underhanded tactics can seem to work a little too well.

If you’re interested in working your way through the ranks of the real estate world, you’ll eventually realize that shortcuts such as these don’t work in the long run. The best way to achieve success as a real estate agent is to be honest, choose your listings carefully and always prioritize your clients interests. Do this and you’ll achieve success in the end!


Beni Restea's experience in marketing and web development took him a long way, as he acquired the necessary skills to be a professional in digital marketing for the real estate industry. Through his work, he managed to develop exclusive content for RealEstateAgent.com, which is informative, trendy and real estate related. Through his experience as a search engine optimization specialist, he manages to significantly increase traffic to the website by sharing quality content with the world throughout the internet.

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