Unlucky In Love? Love, Red Flags and Real Estate.

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Are you unlucky in love? Consistently choosing a different version of the same person and ending up with an achy breaky heart? Or rapidly approaching ‘bitter and twisted’ territory, your world view changing because of the experiences you’ve had?

This post is for those unlucky in love and real estate. Strange combination?

Maybe not as strange as you think.

A bit about me…

This year I turn 40.

I met the father of my children when I was 17 years old. We got married in July 1998, a month after my 19th birthday and ended up separating/divorcing some years later in 2008.

So, I was 28 with three kids in tow when I became ‘newly single’. And, as with many people with children who become single after a long term relationship I was pretty out of touch with the dating scene and didn’t really know where to start. I knew I didn’t want to be alone forever. And while cats are cute, I’ve never felt compelled to have one, so crazy-cat-lady wasn’t in my future.

The next 7 years were spent by myself or in or between short relationships that didn’t pan out for whatever reason. Single girls tend to hang out with single girls so ‘what wasn’t going well’ got a lot of airtime and my friends and I would often commiserate about dating disasters, sometimes mine, sometimes theirs. The conversation going around and around in circles about ‘red flags‘, “Where are all the good guys?” or, from the friend-zoned male contingent in the group, “Why do girls choose a*******s“?


Because you know agents love disclaimers.. ; )

Not every relationship that doesn’t work out is between a hero and a villain. Including some of mine. Sometimes expectations/needs just don’t line up and things fall apart. That’s life.

Why do we enter into relationships? And what do we expect?

Your answer may be slightly different to mine but I think most would agree with: love, affection, comfort, the desire to be wanted or special, to have (or recreate) a family. To not be alone.

Trust is the foundation of a relationship. Relationships make us vulnerable. And the more vulnerable we are, the more hurt or enraged we are when our trust is violated. Feeling like a fool is no-ones idea of fun.

The Real Estate Connection
(This is what you’re scared of, right?)

Like relationships gone bad, bad real estate experiences also get a lot of airtime. For most people, a large percentage of their wealth is tied up in real estate, making the consumer particularly vulnerable to unscrupulous behavior.

I read horror stories of deceit and betrayal in the media, or on Facebook community pages/groups, and, from time to time, the topic comes up at a dinner or function I’m present at.

Reports of bad real estate agent behaviour or even someone’s disappointing experience are like a financial shark attack – terrifying, mesmerizing and certain to draw a crowd. An article, mention or repost about a real estate agents misdeeds, a lynch mob quickly gathers and most real estate agents in the vicinity go and hide under their beds until said crowd disapates.

Feelings of anger and pain experienced by someone betrayed by a professional in a position of trust are HUGE. Intensified when there has been a substantial financial loss. And, besides the obvious, the public outrage and engagement around these things is probably due in part to fear that we or our loved ones may fall victim to similar behaviour. The more vulnerable we are the more we feel the sting of betrayal.

Red flags. Avoiding the avoidable.

There are many competent real estate agents out there across brands who care about doing the best job possible for the clients that engage them. And there are many single men and women who will make amazing partners when they meet someone compatible.

This post shines focus on the infamous few with their hidden agendas and how you can avoid falling prey to damaging behaviour.

In love, life and real estate many bad experiences are avoidable. A big part of avoiding risk is being aware of the choices you make early on that lead to less-than-pleasant outcomes.

Read on for three common romantic scenarios to avoid and their real estate equivalents.

1. The Love Bomber

This guy or gal is smoking! Literally. Blowing smoke everywhere. They shower you with an absolute avalanche of affection and attention early on. This is often combined with pressure to commit quickly. You know who I mean – the 45-year old who has never been in a long term relationship but talks about marriage on the second date and punctuates every second sentence with statements like “I feel things for you that I’ve never ever felt before…” “Where have you been all my life?” “I just can’t believe how amazing you are…”. Or the chick spouting the same kind of stuff but you can hardly hear it over the sound of the biological clock that is ticking loudly in the background.

Love Bombers often have an undisclosed agenda and want your commitment secured before the big reveal.

Why we fall for it?

Because it feels nice. We all want to be wanted. Sure, you only met a week ago but who wouldn’t want to believe that out of all the losers (their words) this guy (or gal) has met in the last 3 decades you are the standout, you are THE ONE.

Sadly, once you commit, the Love Bombers attentions may drop off of a cliff. Or turn into attempts to control. Or you discover their real agenda and…you might not have committed had they told you the truth. You might even discover they are off Love Bombing someone else. Not so special now are you? Jokes…sort of.

The Real Estate Application

Be aware of the human tendency of choosing people or advice that affirms our own desires or beliefs. In plain English, be careful about only hearing what you want to hear. And question why people push that little bit too hard. There’s a fine line between follow-up and harassment.

Hint: Your buyers will not like being hounded either.

Here’s a scenario for you. You need heart surgery. You consult with a cardiac surgeon and he looks you in the eye and asks you ‘How would you handle the operation?’ and then proceeds to agree with everything that comes out of your mouth and tells you that you are a genius. Would you let him anywhere near your heart? I don’t think so. Because you aren’t an idiot. And your heart is too important to risk.

Yet people do this all the time with real estate agent selection. Want to protect yourself? Place more weight on evidence than baseless opinion. Agents have a lot of competition for your business. It takes guts to draw your attention to things you may not like to hear and willingness to do so before you are contractually tied in is a sign of a competent agent. You would be doing yourself a favour by examining the evidence agents present alongside their recommendations – both when you like what you are hearing and when you don’t.

2. The Cheater

So you heard some pesky rumours that your new love was a cheater, or perhaps you know they are morally flexible because you were the ‘other woman/man’.

Maybe you weren’t complicit in their previous love crimes but they fessed up to you that they had cheated on previous partners (a smart move because, let’s face it, you would probably find out in the long run) – waxing eloquent about their previous partners’ flaws while reassuring you that their luck has now turned and they would never contemplate cheating on someone offering the outstanding qualities you possess. The cheating was never really their fault you see. (Perpetual Victim = BIG red flag). You might actually end up feeling pretty sorry for this beautiful man or woman driven to infidelity by the awful, callous people of their past. Besides, people change, right?

You’ve had the exclusive conversation. And, despite their previous indiscretions, your new loves reassurances of how special, superior and valued you are have put your mind at ease. You’re just starting to settle into newly-coupled-bliss when you discover that your sweethearts’ earnest proclamations about a desire for exclusivity only applied to you. They don’t want to share you…no, no no… The rules for them, however, are another story.

Why we fall for it?

Because, when we stand to personally benefit, it’s easier to ignore the wisdom of ‘the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour’.

And, in a way, it comes down to ego. We downplay the risk by playing up our own importance, or even ability to change something completely beyond our control. Like someone else’s ability to honour their word.

The Real Estate Application

If someone does it for you, they may well do it to you.

What are some Red Flags?

  • An agent gives you sensitive information about their clients’ situation to help you secure ‘a deal’.
  • The agent tells you their sellers ‘bottom price’ without permission from their seller.
  • An agent takes a ‘pick and choose‘ approach to compliance. Rules are for other people and sometimes for them.
  • You’ve only ever bought off this agent and find yourself calling them my agent because they feed you info you wouldn’t get otherwise, you rarely have to compete and you always get a good buy through them.

I hate to break it to you but, if the above sound familiar, your favourite agent is working for themselves, not for you. Even if it sometimes works in your favour.

Provided your interests are aligned with theirs all will be well but it’s a different story if your interests diverge – and they often do throughout a real estate sale. Sometimes a quick sale is good for an agent, but waiting for a different buyer is better for the client. Knowing specifics about your situation is helpful so that the agent can tailor advice to your situation but the leak of those specifics to buyers can weaken your position.

You are going to be relying on your agents advice and expertise should you engage them. Loyalty to the person who is paying the bills will matter to you.

Rules, rules, rules…

At the risk of sounding like Miss-Goody-Two-Shoes, rules are there for a reason and that reason is keeping buyers and sellers safe. Dealing with an agent who keeps some, but not others is a game of Russian Roulette – and your most valuable asset is in the line of fire.

3. The Celebrity

This smooth operator is bedazzling. You can’t believe your luck and, that makes two of you – because it’s pretty clear that they can’t believe your luck either.

They are smooth, charming, successful, build rapport immediately but talk incessantly about themselves. They literally won’t shut up. Any of your feeble attempts to bring the conversation around to you (just a little) are swatted away with the grace and dexterity of a Russian gymnast. You feel intimidated but also a little sheepish. They are very important. And you are very lucky that they are lavishing you with their attention. They have not-so-subtly highlighted their other options to you and this strangely taps into a part of your psyche that actually makes you all the more eager to step into their glamorous world. So you ignore the glaringly obvious ‘all about them’ theme and dive headlong into Narnia.

If you’ve been in a relationship like this hopefully you didn’t waste too much time there before you picked up on the one-sidedness of the arrangement and made tracks back through the wardrobe starved of the love and attention you were hoping to find and with your dignity in urgent need of repair.

Why we fall for it?

It’s human to be attracted to beauty, success, popularity and intelligence. But I think, for some of us, it is easy to become intimidated by people who walk or talk a big game and that can distract us enough that we fail to see red flags such as a lack of genuine interest and empathy – two essential ingredients without which healthy relationships can’t flourish.

The Real Estate Application

The High Flyer would be the real estate equivalent of The Celebrity. Who doesn’t love to work with successful people?

It’s natural to be impressed by success but remember that success does not predict your experience with someone or relieve you of the need to walk into a relationship, business or otherwise, with your eyes wide open.

Fail to do your homework or ask questions because of social proof and, quite frankly, you have a 50% chance of not regretting your decision. Relying on strangers to do your homework for you is always a mistake.

Case in point. A certain high profile real estate agent who, after multiple Unsatisfactory Conduct and Misconduct findings, had his licence cancelled by the Disciplinary Tribunal in 2016. I didn’t know him personally but during his years of selling he always had many listings with well-written ads, great photos and, from all reports, was charming (until he wasn’t) and had the gift of the gab. He also left a lengthy trail of angry and disgruntled consumers in his wake. One of his complaints was from sellers when they received a flyer he distributed after their sale citing ‘ecstatic vendors’ when, they were in fact, extremely unhappy.

“This is all a bit abstract? How on earth can you protect yourself?”

It’s not that hard. Just pay attention and ask questions. Agents give you clues during their presentations as to whether they are interested in you and your situation or simply in adding to their listings. You can glean a lot from what people say, the questions they ask and whether or not they show empathy around situations they discuss with you. Think about the things that are important to you and ask more questions around those. Don’t be afraid of sounding silly. You’re probably not asking something that hasn’t asked before.

I recently had a seller ask me, “If we list with you, do we get you or will you be passing us on to another agent?” I thought it was a great question and, in my sellers case, was asked because of a previous experience they had been unhappy with.

If you’re dealing with an agent with a lot of listings asking questions around the level of their personal involvement, general availability and who is going to be looking after your business are worth asking.

A final thought…

It’s easy to blame other people – the bastard who broke your heart or the business that ripped you off – but more effective to look at ways you could have protected yourself in the first place so that your future is better than your past. There is so much within our control. Stop, look and listen before you move forward with impactful decisions.

When in doubt, ask more questions. Don’t be scared to take time to think. Your wealth, like your heart, is well worth the effort.

And us?

In 2015 I met Mark, and we got married in mid 2017. Mark is very different from previous men I had dated and, no, I didn’t finally capitulate and marry a guy with two heads or grab the one no-one else wanted.

Mark and I are really a perfect fit but, interestingly, he blows less smoke than almost any other man I have ever known. And I love people laying it on thick so, trust me, the above article is as much an indictment on myself for being a sucker for stuff that doesn’t matter as on other people.

You know how most of us girls love to feel like princesses? Well, Mark makes me feel like one but not in the usual ways. He buys me flowers on special occasions but not all that often. I could spend two hours dolling myself up for an event and he won’t say a word but he will tell me I’m beautiful when I wake up in the morning looking freshly electrocuted and have panda/joker eyes. He makes me laugh but he isn’t outrageously funny (if you’re reading this, sorry babe) and he’s not a social butterfly or ultra-ambitious.

What he is, is consistently kind, caring, reliable, wise, intelligent, hardworking and incredibly talented. One of the first things I noticed about him was how genuinely kind he is – he rarely had a bad word to say about anyone – and was compassionate even when people had done him wrong. He gives me so much to admire. A rare soul and I’m lucky to share my life with him.

Thank you for reading…

I hope you have enjoyed this post and, if you are looking for love or a real estate agent, I hope I’ve given you some food for thought. Wishing you happiness and success with your endeavours!

More articles for sellers.

Breaking up with your Real Estate agent. Is it them or is it you?
Selling your home privately vs using an agent.
Choosing your agent: What matters and what doesn’t.
Social Media Recommendations for Dummies. Version 1.0

The Author

Maria is a veteran Auckland realtor, rookie blogger and long time resident of the West and Nor'west. Maria markets and sells residential and lifestyle property across Auckland and is based at Harcourts Northwest Realty Limited - Licensed REAA 2008


  1. Dalice Rose-McSeveney says

    Your amazing! What a wonderful honest post. We have experienced a cheater real estate agent, we learnt our lesson quick & kicked them to the curb. We also have experienced a RocketStar agent, that agent we used twice & will always recommend & when we get the chance we will use again. That agent us You! So happy you have married a man who loves you for who you are & that you have experienced a smoke free environment it really is better for you.

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