From Cancelled Deals to Stubborn Sellers: How to Handle Sticky Real Estate Situations

There comes a time (or two, or five) in every real estate agent’s career when they find themselves in a sticky real estate situation.

An awkward, stressful, frustrating or panic-inducing situation that keeps you up at night or makes you question your sanity.

Maybe you’re reading this because you happen to be in a sticky real estate situation at this very moment.

Hopefully today’s post can help. We’re diving into four common tough real estate situations — and how agents can best deal with them.



When You’ve Shown a Buyer 50 Properties — and Counting

You know your buyer’s wish list like the back of your hand. You consistently identify homes that fit the bill, but your buyer doesn’t bite. 

At first, you write it off as your buyer simply being discerning. But after months and months of no bites, you realize you’ve got a problem on your hands. 

This frustrating real estate situation is unfortunately all too common.

There’s a normal level of pickiness, and then there’s an extreme level of pickiness. When your buyer falls into the latter camp, they are monopolizing your time and impacting your ability to work with clients who are ready to make a deal.

How to handle it: by taking action.

You’ve probably already checked in with the buyer about whether their needs or buying horizon have changed. Now it’s time for a more serious conversation, about potentially ending the relationship. 

You need to let your client know that you can’t afford to continue dedicating so much time if they don’t feel ready to make an offer. You can politely remind them that you’ve consistently brought them properties to match their needs, wants and budget. 

If they balk or get defensive, you can offer to pare back rather than go separate ways, in order to protect your time and keep them happy.


When a Buyer Pulls Out

This is every agent’s (and seller’s) worst nightmare: accepting an offer, only to have the buyer later pull out.

Sometimes this happens when a buyer no longer can access adequate financing. Sometimes it’s due to a change in circumstance. Whatever the reason, it can be messy, costly and test your relationship with your seller.

How to handle it: by being your seller’s first line of defense (and offense).

As stressful as this real estate situation is for you, it’s 10 times more stressful for your seller. Going the extra mile for them will protect your relationship (and your reputation), so that a great real estate testimonial and future business aren’t out of the question.

You need to:

  • Get the full story from the buyer’s agent
  • Explain to your seller why the sale fell through and what it means — right away and in clear terms, so that they understand the ins and outs
  • Be prepared with recommendations for your client, which could range from dusting themselves off and relisting or pursuing legal action (depending on the situation)
  • Provide an abundance of moral support
  • Go above and beyond to get their house sold to a new buyer

When a Seller Refuses to Drop the Price

Ah, the delusional seller. The wheeler-and-dealer. A classic type of difficult real estate client. This seller thinks they know more than you when it comes to how much their home is worth. 

A seller thinking their home is worth more than it is happens all the time

But when the house isn’t budging, it’s time for a price reduction, and your seller is refusing… then you’ve got a tricky real estate situation.

How to handle it: give them tough love and sobering facts.

You need to remind your seller that time is not their friend — especially not in a period when market conditions are changing week by week. 

A stubborn seller isn’t going to want to listen. To drive the point home, you need to present a data-backed case. Give them a projection of how much money they might be leaving on the table if they refuse a price drop now and are unable to sell. 

Some sellers will relent. Others will lash out. You need to be prepared for an emotional reaction, which may include the seller threatening to end the contract.

When You’re Representing the Buyer and the Seller

This sticky real estate situation doesn’t arise that often. But when it does, it’s crucial to know how to handle it. 

You may find yourself representing the buyer and seller when one of your clients takes an interest in the other’s listing. Or maybe you work on a real estate team, and your teammate is representing the other party.

Either way, it may be a recognized conflict of interest and a potential deal- and relationship-ruiner.

How to handle it: be transparent and seek advice.

It’s likely that you’ll have to remove yourself from one end of the deal. To determine whether this is the case, you’ll need to seek immediate guidance from your brokerage or real estate board. It’s common for another agent in the brokerage to take over the other side of the deal, to avoid any conflict.

Once you have professional advice and know the path forward, be transparent with your client(s). Make sure to communicate that you want to act professionally and in good faith, even if it means not working together. They’ll appreciate your commitment to acting ethically.

What’s the trickiest real estate situation you’ve found yourself in?

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