Selling and listing houses isn’t easy. It’s a job that takes a ton of hard work and eats up lots of time. Realtors certainly don’t work the 9-5 beat! Successful agents go the extra yard to make a transaction a good one, whether working with the buyer, seller, or both.
But there are always those clients that seem to know how to throw a monkey wrench in the works. They’re frustrating and can make you angry, especially if you feel as if they’re sabotaging a deal or ruining your working relationship.
Sometimes, these clients just don’t know any better, and it’s up to us – the agents – to try to educate them on the rudiments of buying and selling and on the importance of the relationship between client and agent. If you don’t take the time to do that, however, you’ll need to be prepared to face some of the statements below.
1. Can you discount your commission? – Most experienced agents have heard this from both buyers and sellers. Some buyers want you to cut your commission and give them the difference. Some sellers want you to trim your commission too or to offer a higher percentage to the agents showing their property so that there is more enticement for them to show it. The truth is that you should just set your commission at the industry standard. Period. Non-negotiable (except under very extreme circumstances). Savings can be found in other places.
2. Can you show me places in the “good” neighborhoods? – So, what does this really mean? Does this refer to low-crime areas? Or perhaps your client has an issue with people of other races or nationalities? The important thing is that you don’t play their game or you could get in trouble. Instead, answer their question with a question. For example, respond with “Well, what’s important to you?” or “What are your concerns?” If their question does indeed have something to do with discrimination, simply tell them that you don’t discuss the racial make-up of a particular neighborhood…then hope they find another agent. (They probably will.)
3. I’d like to see THAT house, even though I can’t really afford it! – Who wants to waste their time showing a house for $300,000 if the buyers are only approved for $200,000? Chances are they’re not going to be able to come up with another 100 grand. Insist on pre-approval and stick to what they can afford. (A few thousand dollars difference may be okay but keep the gap to a minimum.) Otherwise, you’ll all be frustrated, and that’ll likely be the end of the relationship.
4. I don’t really see the purpose of getting pre-approved! - Seriously, pre-approval is essential, especially for first-time buyers but really for everyone. You never know what’s lurking in a buyer’s financial history. For example, they may have 20 percent to put down, but their credit might be in shambles. Again, looking at houses and falling in love with one (or more) doesn’t make sense if the buyer isn’t qualified. So, insist they meet with a mortgage professional before you take the plunge and schedule lots of showings.
5. Do you know that house we really liked? Well, I called the listing agent. – Ugh! This is never a good idea, and you should be clear with your clients from the start that YOU have their best interest in mind, not the listing agent. And, of course, doing this could lead to #6…
6. We decided to switch to an agent we met at an open house! – If you don’t instill some sort of need for loyalty between you and your clients, they will likely go to someone else and feel no remorse about it, even if you spent countless weekends showing them houses. It happens all the time! Show them why you are the best choice for their needs before they turn to someone else.
7. Let’s give ‘em a real low-ball offer and see what happens! – It’s all HGTV’s fault! So many potential buyers watch real estate-related shows on cable networks and see buyers nabbing homes for $50K below asking price…or more! So, they assume they can do the same, regardless of the market in their region. You need to let them know that a low-ball offer is often an insulting offer and that such a proposal won’t likely produce a result in their favor.
8. I will not negotiate in regards to the home inspection results! – Home inspections are here to stay and they protect both the buyer and the seller. However, both parties have to be willing to negotiate. If a home inspection, for example, reveals a significant problem that any buyer would expect the seller to fix, then the seller SHOULD fix it. Some issues will be far less important, and those are the ones for which there can be some negotiation. Truly, it’s well worth it to work things out. Putting the house back on the market because of a failed home inspection will likely only result in the same problems again…and the house still won’t be sold.
9. I want to make an offer, even though my house isn’t sold! – Well, contingency offers – in some markets – are just about as good as no offer at all. If a seller needs to wait for you to buy his house until your existing property is sold, it’s likely all other offers will be considered before yours. The only time this works might be if you’re in the middle of a solid buyer’s market and the seller has no other offers. Nevertheless, agents should be honest about the pitfalls of such an offer and buyers should be prepared to be disappointed, even if the seller accepts the contingency offer at first.
10. But my dad (mom, uncle, cousin, best friend) says…. – Everyone wants to advise your buyer/seller about their real estate transaction, and some of your clients will accept their relative’s or friend’s advice as gold. To avoid this, you need to show them from the start that you are the expert in this transaction, that you know the area, and you know the ins and outs of buying and selling. Establish respect, and you won’t need to worry about old Uncle Ned’s opinion.