Yup, we all get them. The difficult client. Why, we wonder, did they wind up with me? Why wasn’t someone else on the up desk when they called? Why did I prospect them at that party? How am I ever going to get through this process with them?
Whether they’re buyers or sellers, demanding clients can make our lives…well…difficult! However, it’s essential to know that you can conquer the tough client if you can recognize what it is that motivates them and, then, decide how to handle them.
Difficult buyers and sellers come in a variety of shapes and sizes but are most often identified by the following traits:
- The one who knows everything – This client knows EVERYTHING there is to know about real estate sales and purchases. As a matter of fact, they could tell YOU a thing or two about the business…and they will! This person is one of the most challenging characters to handle because they’ll fight you on everything. They’ll ask you questions and then dispute your answers. They’ll challenge your expertise. This individual is especially hard for young/new agents to handle as they are less likely to stand up for themselves.
- The comp monster – This individual has researched every single sale near the home he/she is considering selling or buying. He can quote sale prices from four years ago! That means, when it’s time to list his home or buy a new one, HE will know best about pricing and will likely not take your advice.
- The HGTV expert – Yup, reality TV has done more to destroy the credibility of real estate agents than any other single entity. You’re now expected to do the impossible, just like the Property Brothers! Seriously, HGTV and other similar cable networks provide a skewed look at the real world of selling and buying homes. It’s difficult to reason with a client who thinks they can duplicate a scenario on their favorite show, regardless of the situation or location.
- Low-Ballin’ Lou (or Louise) – This is the client who insists the seller won’t be offended if their offer is $50K below asking price but then blames you when the seller refuses even to make a counteroffer.
- High-Ballin’ Harry (or Harriet) – This is the client who believes their house is better than all others and, despite comps that show otherwise, they refuse to listen to your advice to list at a lower price than they had planned. Of course, it will be YOUR fault when the property doesn’t sell at that price…or at all.
- The pain in the %^&$! – It’s usually easy to spot the client who’s going to be constantly on your back, sending multiple daily emails, calling you continually, and demanding updates daily, even when there aren’t any updates to give. These are the folks that want instant feedback on showings, want to know how many people called each day on the ad for their home, or want to see each new listing the day it appears on the market.
Of course, how you handle these problematic clients is up to you, but there are – in general – three ways to look at the problem.
Rookie agents, or those who are non-confrontational, will likely do nothing but will just put up with the nonsense. Usually, it’s because they are afraid of losing a client and, worst of all, losing a potential commission. However, considering all the problems with these clients, will they ever really buy or sell, and will the money earned be worth the stress? Hence, this is usually not a good solution.
Speaking to the client about their actions is generally a favorable way to address any of the individuals listed above. This takes a strong agent who isn’t worried about telling it like it is, so to speak. This means being open and honest with your clients and letting them know that their actions are improper or are impeding the process of buying a new home or selling their existing one. Set up a meeting with them – but not on their turf – to discuss your concerns and layout the rules that need to be followed if you are to continue to work together. Be prepared to be “fired” if they’re not happy about your rules.
Speaking of being fired, it’s okay to fire a client on occasion. Sometimes, they’re just not worth the stress. If you feel as if you’ve done everything you can and you’re not making any progress with this tough client, let him/her/them go. That said, reach out to a broker or other more experienced agent before you part ways, just to see if they have any ideas about anything else you can do to address the issues causing the trouble. But remember, in the end, some personalities don’t mesh, and you may just be a bad fit for each other.