Real Estate

The ‘My’ Agent: How This Approach Can Hamper A Transaction

Work in real estate sales long enough, and you’ll cross paths with a host of different personalities, both good and bad. But there’s one type of agent this broker-owner struggles with — those who let transactions revolve entirely around them.

There are many different real estate agent personality types. If we choose to do the job of representing clients in the purchase or sale of real estate, we get to work with all sorts of agents. Some won’t like us, and some will make the job harder. A few will drag us into their own crazy world where they call the shots, and reality is what they say it is.

However, there is one type of agent I sometimes struggle with. I like to call her the “my” agent. She is the agent who controls the process to the point where it revolves around her. The “my” agent can be male, but I’ll use the pronoun “her” because female real estate salespeople outnumber the men in my market.

If you’ve worked in real estate sales, you probably know the type. The “my” agent will let you know upfront what “my sellers” want, or she will let you know that she is taking good care of her buyers. They are hers, and she always refers to them as “my buyers.” She would never “let” her clients do X or Y — she owns them.

That same agent owns a mortgage lender called “my lender” and a title closer named “my closer.” She also owns a home inspector, which is convenient as heck this time of year. She pronounces the word “MY” in all caps — you can hear it.

There are probably at least two Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) violations in that last paragraph, but that isn’t my point. The agent who possesses others is in charge of the transaction, and we often wonder if she consults the clients she is supposed to represent.

If something went wrong during a real estate transaction she had five years ago, she will forever change how she operates and impose some silly new rules onto all future transactions stating that her clients demand it.

The “my” agent has never made a mistake and is incapable of making one. Everything she does is correct, and it’s what is right for her clients. She would never trust any other agent near her clients and lets them know they are under her protection.

Don’t even try to point out an error or an omission. It just isn’t worth it, and it’ll make things worse instead of better. The “my” agent cannot handle anything that looks like negative feedback — even if it’s something simple like pointing out a wrong address on the purchase agreement.

The “my” agent sets up an unnecessarily adversarial relationship. There isn’t any room for negotiation or compromise or creative solutions for issues that may crop up on inspections. The “my” agent isn’t a problem solver, but she is good at saying, “My clients won’t want …”

Her clients actually feel as though the house they are selling belongs to them, and they may believe they should get to weigh in on some of the important decisions. At the same time, I often wonder if the homeowners are even seeing all the offers, if they truly understand all the types of financing or if the agent who owns them has already made all of the decisions.

If you make an offer for a client and that offer isn’t accepted, the “my” agent will thank you for your hard work because in her world, everyone works for her. You may think that you were working for your clients, but really, you weren’t.

Sometimes as a listing agent, it’s necessary to contact the buyer’s lender. This can be dangerous territory because the agent views the lender as her own lender and may actually see this as a hostile act. I have had this happen — and it wasn’t pretty.

The lender gave me the information I needed, but he later told me that he wasn’t allowed to talk to me at all. He could only talk to the buyer’s agent. It’s unclear to me if he ever talked to his client, the buyer, but she seemed happy, so I left it alone and didn’t question why a lender was working for a real estate agent. He did give me his card, and I put it in the recycle bin.

The “my” agent will tell me all sorts of things that her clients want or need. I’m often surprised at how many of their requests make their agent’s job easier.

When the house is sold, the “my” agent takes a bow. If she hadn’t done things just so, it never would have happened the way it did. It sold for more than the asking price — not because the demand for housing is much higher than the supply right now, but because the agent took such good care of her sellers.

The homeowners were completely protected from anything that could have gone wrong, like a job loss on the part of the buyers or their deaths in a fiery car crash.

It may be tempting to express some annoyance with the “my” agent. I once had a “my” agent ask me to step out into the hallway during a closing because she didn’t like something I said to “her” lender. I’m not making this up.

The only advice I can give about the “my” agent is to recognize that she is in charge — and there isn’t anything you can say to change that. Try hard not to make her angry because if you do, chances are the buyer or seller you are representing will be hurt in the process.

You will encounter the “my” or “mine” agent and might be working with him now. Just smile graciously when he or she thanks you for your hard work, and put it out of your mind.

Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker/owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul. She is also the founder of

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