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Josh Flagg
Do Real Estate Agents Have Your Best Interest In Mind?

My mentality and philosophy for selling has always been the same: DO NOT PUSH.

When I am with a buyer I always let the buyer steer the ship and make the final decision. I just provide the path to get there. The minute you start pushing as an agent, the buyer’s natural psychological defenses will go up, and they start to think that you might just be trying to make a sale.

So, as a buyer, how can you tell that you are working with an agent who has your best interest at heart?

Hire Someone with Opinions


One mistake that I see a lot of agents making all too often is that they just say “yes” to everything that the client likes. They have no opinions, and therefore they don’t add information or value.  

This may seem like they are trying to be the opposite of “salesly” because they are just going with the flow and letting the client take the reins. However, it actually feels like they are trying to sell them even harder. They may secretly have a contrary opinion but are afraid to share it because they do not want to screw up a potential sale.

In terms of selling this is a big no-no and should be a red flag when hiring an agent.  

As an agent reading this, you need to be someone with his or her own opinions. That doesn’t mean you have to go sell somebody on something, however give your opinion. Use your knowledge of the market place which a buyer does not have and educate the buyer or tell them your brutal honest opinion. I promise you will gain support and trust and the buyer will feel comfortable buying from you. Don’t worry about pushing a buyer off a property they don’t like. When you show them you care they will buy from you regardless if it’s this one or the next.


Find Agents Who Speak Up

If I go into a house that my client loves and I don’t like it, I will tell them the reasons why I don’t like it. I explain to them that as an agent, and someone who they are paying to provide them with expertise, I feel compelled to share some of my thoughts. Now, I don’t completely rip the house apart, instead I focus on the main points, and have an honest conversation with them.

At the end of the day it’s ultimately their decision if they want to buy it or not. However at least they know two things: they know that I’m not just agreeing with them to make a sale, but more importantly, they can learn from my knowledge and experience.


Look for Agents Who Keep Their Client’s Best Interest at Heart

Let’s say that for example a client of mine loves a brand new house in a not so great location in Los Angeles. I could go in and say the following:

“This is an excellent find! You should buy this house! This is the right one for you!”

But why would I do that?

If I can find them something equally as good in a better location, it’s in my best interest to explain to my client that the house they originally chose has some downsides.  If they take my advice they will want to work with me in the future because they see that I have their best interest in mind.

The bigger question is why would I want to let my client buy a home that is a poor investment?

To me, that feels very dishonest and it’s not the way I want to run my business. To many agents, they are trained to just make deals. But sometimes they do not comprehend that if you want return business or if you want to expand your brand, you need to sell good products. You can always spot a good agent by their foresight and attention to detail.

But let’s take morality out of the equation for a moment, and just think about it from a business standpoint.


Agents Should be Guides


If you don’t agree with your agent, that’s fine, you don’t have to take their advice.  At least they’ve done their job to the fullest, and you can respect their opinion even if you disagree.

There have been so many situations when clients of mine wanted to buy a certain property and I have desperately persuaded them to purchase another property that will work out better. I tell them that they can do whatever they want, it’s their money, but if you’re paying me all this money for my advice, I am going to give it to you.

I look at it the same way as going to an $800 an hour attorney and not taking his or her advice.. It just doesn’t make sense. If an agent is taking a big chunk of money, then the client should take their agents advice and knowledge (assuming he or she is a good agent and not an idiot… but one should be able to figure that one out very quickly).

As a buyer reading this however, only take your agents advice if you think they have your best interest… if you have to second guess them.. dump ‘em!

Aside from integrity, equally as important is you work with an agent who actually knows what the hell he or she is doing.

Don’t get me wrong, using a big brand-name agent is very good when you are selling your home. It adds prestige and cachet. But keep in mind there are a lot of good real estate agents and there are also a lot of idiot brand-name real estate agents that just got lucky. Make sure you have a good rapport and you trust your agent and make sure they actually are educated on the marketplace. Whenever I go in on a listing appointment, whether or not I get the listing, the number one feedback I always get from the seller is that I have an innate knowledge of the market the very few brokers they have ever met have.

As a buyer, keep in mind the most important thing is not the brand name of the agent. Again it’s knowledge of the market. Quiz your potential agent and make sure he or she can tell you every single house on the block that has sold in a years time, what it sold for, how much debt is on the house, when the house was last sold before this sale…  frankly everything except for the new homeowners Social Security number. Your agent should know EVERYTHING about the area you are looking at.


Consider Their Opinions and Then Make the Call

Now, the way I approach selling is much different than a commercial real estate agent would where it’s all about numbers and cap rates. In residential, people have emotions and people have different taste, but it’s my job to give my clients as much information as possible and then at the end of the day let them decide.  

My advice is to listen to your agent, and then make your own judgment call. It never hurts to listen to someone who works in real estate for a living, and it’s always wise to get a second opinion, no matter what you are trying to accomplish! If you are going to get a second opinion however, make sure it is from someone who is reputable and works in the same field.

Make sure they are not pushing you off that particular property because he or she wants to sell you something else.

Tell them point blank “I am working with someone already and do not plan to go elsewhere or with another agent, however I would really appreciate your opinion on this matter.”

If you tell them that then they realize they have nothing to gain, so they may as well give you two minutes of their time to give you his or her opinion.

Finally DO NOT ask your friends or your co workers what they think of a property because unless they are a real estate professional they don’t have any idea what they are talking about.

They just want to interject and sound intelligent.

At the end of the day, it’s your call, but being informed will help you to make the best decision for you and your family.

Remember just because an agent is successful doesn’t mean they know what they are doing… just look at me… just kidding!


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Josh Flagg is one of the world's most successful real estate agents and has helped hundreds of buyers find their dream home in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, resulting in over $2 Billion of closed real estate transactions.