The 4 Classic Types of Difficult Real Estate Clients — and How to Handle Them

The 4 Classic Types of Difficult Real Estate Clients — and How to Handle Them

Real estate is, above all, a people business.

Sure, you’re selling houses. But success in the real estate industry really comes down to how well you work with people.

How well you understand their desires and motivations. How well you understand their boundaries. And, most simple of all, how well you get along.

But simple doesn’t always mean easy. Sometimes, despite your very best efforts and well-honed people skills, getting along is the hardest part.

When that happens, it’s often because you’ve found yourself with one of the four classic difficult real estate clients. These are the people you wish you never started working with — and who you think about breaking up with.

Sometimes, cutting the cord with difficult real estate clients is the right move. But only after you’ve tried to work with their particular brand of difficult.

Which is what we’re discussing today. Read on for a rundown of the four most common types of difficult real estate clients, and tips on how to handle them.

 

The Amateur Real Estate Agent

The signs

  • Uses a lot of real estate jargon and lingo
  • Interrupts you to offer their own take on the scenario
  • Overrides you and speaks directly to the other agent
  • Makes unwelcome suggestions about how to approach a situation
  • Has objections to your advice and perspectives, citing their own expertise

The consequences

  • A tense and unhappy working relationship
  • A distrust and lack of confidence on both sides
  • Client makes other agents feel uneasy
  • Client makes brash and unwise decisions
  • Lost opportunities

How to Handle Them

  • At first… Start by being patient and friendly, affirming the things they’re correct about and offering additional insights
  • When it starts affecting your efforts… Remind them that they hired you because of your experience and expertise, and that you’re there to lead the way. Ask them if they trust your expertise and if they don’t trust you, what you can do to change that.
  • When you can’t take it anymore… Have a final conversation. Be firm and polite, but tell them that their behaviour is undermining your expertise and reputation, and affecting your ability to sell their house or find them a new home.

 

The HGTV Junkie

The signs

  • Starts every sentence with “I saw on [TV show name] that…”
  • Is worried when they haven’t found the house for them after viewing only three properties
  • Has unrealistic expectations of affordability and buyability (e.g., thinking they still have a shot when a listing is well out of their budget)
  • Thinks fixer uppers are always worth it

The consequences

  • Stalled progress
  • Client always feels disappointed
  • Client questions why things are taking a long time, or not going how they thought they would
  • Client blames you

How to Handle Them

  • At first… Start by empathizing with their position and offering alternate perspectives backed by data and experience. Lightly joke that the reality of real estate isn’t like how it appears on TV.
  • When it starts affecting your efforts… Sit down with them to reassess their budget and needs. Express that you’re concerned that you won’t be able to help them meet their goal without some adjustments to their expectations. Come prepared with data and evidence.
  • When you can’t take it anymore… Have a final conversation. Suggest taking a pause, or express that without an adjustment, you’re going to have to politely excuse yourself and suggest they work with another agent.

 

The 24/7

The signs

  • Texts you after hours
  • Sends you listings and articles every day
  • Frequently gets worked up and needs to be calmed down and reassured
  • Is constantly afraid of missing out
  • Bombards you with requests for minute-by-minute updates

The consequences

  • A rollercoaster relationship of ups and downs
  • Emotionally-charged decision-making and/or flip-flopping
  • Burnout (yours!)
  • Client feels ignored
  • Client threatens to move onto a different real estate agent

How to Handle Them

  • At first… Be calming and reassuring. Empathize with their position and the feelings that can come with high stakes and big decisions. When you receive after-hours communications that you feel are inappropriate, politely say that you’ll respond the following day.
  • When it starts affecting your efforts… Politely communicate your boundaries. Remind them that you strive to balance your personal and professional life, and ask that they respect your hours of work. Assure them that you’re invested in their search or sale, and that these boundaries help you do your best possible work. During working hours, make an extra effort to be motivational and empathetic.
  • When you can’t take it anymore… Have a final conversation. Suggest taking a pause, or express that without an adjustment, you’re going to have to politely excuse yourself and suggest they work with another agent.

 

The Wheeler-and-Dealer

The signs

  • Thinks your valuation of their home is way too low
  • Constantly wants to make lowball offers on for-sale homes, no matter the situation
  • Makes demands for a lower commission
  • Refuses (or constantly bargains the price of) services needed to help make a sale or safe-guard a purchase, such as home staging and home inspections

The consequences

  • Angers and offends fellow agents
  • Stalled progress
  • Potential offers are missed
  • Money is left on the table
  • Your relationships with other agents and buyers/sellers is negatively impacted

How to Handle Them

  • At first… Empathize with their position of wanting to save money and recognize the associated costs and expenses. If they’re unaccepting of your valuation, revisit the data and experiences you used to arrive at that number. Suggest DIY and/or inexpensive alternatives for things like home staging.
  • When it starts affecting your efforts… Call a meeting. Communicate that you’re worried they won’t reach their goals. Offer small compromises (only if you’re able to and if it doesn’t negatively impact your well-being or financial security) to help them feel understood.
  • When you can’t take it anymore… Have a final conversation. Express that their actions and impulses are now affecting your business and your relationships with other agents. Invite them to agree to a fresh start and don’t be afraid to say that without meaningful changes, you’ll have to end the contract.

 

How do you handle clients who threaten to move on?

 

 

 

 

 

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