Best Tips for Handling a Cancelled Real Estate Listing

It happens to the best of agents:

A seller calls to deliver the news that they want to cancel their real estate listing.

Sometimes it’s because of a change of life plans (“it’s not you, it’s me”).

Other times, it’s because things are moving too slowly.

And then there are times when they’re unhappy with the services they’ve received (“it’s you, not me”).

Whatever the client’s reason, a cancelled listing is always disappointing for a real estate agent. It’s not only missed income, but a missed opportunity to grow one’s business.

But it’s not the end of the world. What matters most is how real estate agents handle the bad news. Done right, a cancelled listing is a chance to learn, cement your reputation and earn future business.

Here are the best tips for handling a cancelled real estate listing.

Take a Breath

The news is disappointing. Especially if you didn’t see it coming. You’ll probably feel frustrated or angry.

It’s crucial that you don’t let your client see or hear those reactions. The first step in handling a cancelled real estate listing is to take a breath and set emotion aside.

Because even if they’re no longer your client, you want to keep impressing. And that means handling bad news gracefully.

Gently ask your client why they want to cancel their listing. You may see an opportunity to change their mind. But if they’re firm in their decision, let them know you respect their choice.

Know Your Rights

Contracts are contracts for a reason. A cancelled contract may have consequences that you’ll need to make the seller aware of.

These consequences (and how they’re enforced) can vary depending on the contract. 

They may include a client needing to reimburse you for expenses detailed on the initial agreement (such as home staging costs). 

Or payment of commission if the seller goes on to relist (and sell) with another brokerage before the end date of your original contract. It’s essential that a seller is aware of this condition, in case they’ve already taken steps to work with a new agent. 

You should be familiar with the terms at the time the contract is signed. But it’s always a good idea to revisit the contract after receiving news of a cancelled listing, in case you’re entitled to some compensation.

Seek to Understand the Reasons

Handling a cancelled real estate listing gracefully doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions.

When a seller cancels their listing, you’re entitled to some answers.

Gently ask your client why they want to cancel their listing. You may see an opportunity to change their mind. But if they’re firm in their decision, let them know you respect their choice.

“Could I have done anything differently or better?”

This question shows your client that you’re an agent who is committed to improving. 

Look for Learning Opportunities

Another question you can — and should — ask:

“Could I have done anything differently or better?”

This question shows your client that you’re an agent who is committed to improving. 

It’s also a golden opportunity for you to gain valuable insight into your performance as a real estate agent and your client’s perception of you.

If you receive feedback that’s hard to swallow, don’t argue. Even if you feel like the comments are heavy-handed or unwarranted, maintaining composure is important.

Remember: criticism can be constructive. If it can help you become a better real estate agent, it’s worth the discomfort. 

Wish Them Well

Chances are that your client feels awkward and sheepish about cancelling their listing. 

Take the high road and help alleviate the tension by letting them know that you don’t have hard feelings and wish them well.

(Of course, if cancelling comes with contractual consequences, it may not be possible to exit so amicably). 

Keep in Touch

A cancelled listing doesn’t always mean a closed door.

Unless a seller is pulling out because of issues with you and your services, there’s a chance that you may have opportunities to work with the client again in the future.

Or at least earn some referral business.

That means staying in touch and not letting the relationship go entirely cold.

How do you do that without appearing pushy or desperate?

By…

 

Your client may unsubscribe or ignore your messages, and that’s fine. But it’s worth trying.

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