Every real estate agent knows how hard it can be dealing with unreasonable home buyers and sellers who seem not to understand the process at all. Even clients with a fair bit of experience behind them can fall into one or more of the four categories we’re about to go over in detail.
The truth is that difficult real estate clients, their expectations, and mannerisms can make the life of a real estate agent even more hectic and sometimes miserable. That is why we’ve decided to list the types of difficult real estate clients a real estate agent might bump into during his/her career. Since knowledge is power, and you might be working in profitable real estate niches, learning to recognize those difficult real estate clients early on can save you several headaches and time (which equals money, never forget!).
Types of difficult real estate clients
If you ever had to deal with an unreasonable home buyer or seller, you probably ran into one of the following types of clients that made you want to walk away from a house negotiation. Some of the following descriptions might bring back bad memories of obnoxious clients who made your life a living nightmare (we are sorry about that!). However, learning to identify and deal with them is probably going to be the best way to work with or around unreasonable home buyers and sellers.
Let’s face it! If you choose to become a real estate agent, bumping into these people is inevitable. Therefore, you might as well grab your “weapons” and become a thick-skinned agent who is prepared to tackle the most difficult of clients.
The Smart Mouth Know it All
Dealing with unreasonable home buyers and sellers who think they know it all can be a nightmare for any real estate agent. They make it clear that they tolerate you at best; they believe that your job is something anyone could do. The problem is not only the fact that they are annoying; the problem is that it is a lie; they cannot possibly know the bits and bolts of this industry – not to mention being knowledgeable of the current real estate market they’re in – better than you. The number of real estate deals they make in their lifetime could be equivalent to the number a busy real estate agent does in a month.
But what’s the best way of dealing with unreasonable home buyers and sellers that think they know it all? The first thing is NEVER to turn this into a competition. Reality will always kick in sooner or later for these difficult real estate clients, and their pose will start to fall apart. Sometimes they will be in so much denial that they will claim it’s your fault that something happened, and they should have gone the For Sale by Owner (FSBO) route, but you can prevent them from getting there.
Here’s what you should do: endure the obnoxiousness and politely correct them. Sometimes people from different nationalities might come off rude, but you have to suck it in even if it’s a foreign investor. Have brochures and online articles written by reputable forces ready to refer them to and maybe (just maybe!) bring them around to a more reasonable frame of mind. It’s essential that the sources of this information – which needs to contain cold, hard evidence data – are reputable, so when they say that it doesn’t add up because of this or that, you can just point out how full of themselves they are. Light-heartedly say, “well, okay; I’ll tell Forbes/ The New York Times/The Department of Housing and Urban Development you said so…”
Yes, Sir, No Sir, Three Bags Full, Sir
What? I thought this article was about dealing with unreasonable home buyers and sellers… how is an amiable, ready to agree, military-grade obedient client a problem?
Listen! We know this might sound great, but having a client who simply says what they think you want to hear can lead to big problems and provoke utter disasters. On the homebuyer side, these are often the types that you think are fine and about to make an offer when they disappear with no warning, and you never hear from them again.
In all likelihood, they were simply too afraid to say anything negative and didn’t want to buy a house that you assumed they liked, which is especially true when representing a family member. Make sure your problematic real estate clients know that you are not personally invested in any home you show them – they can say whatever they want, and you aren’t going to take it personally! You want to go after what they like, and, for that to happen, they need to tell you like it is.
And when it comes to home sellers who act like that, it might be pretty much that they are not 100% invested in selling the house. You don’t want that; you can’t put in the work only to find out months later when the offers start to come in, that your client says, “you know what? I think I don’t want to sell anymore”. Sure, you are a smart real estate agent and probably had them sign one of the listing contracts that assures you still get money out of this, but this is not why we’re in this business, right?
Try and ask them to do something that might not come out as profitable on their end. If the client approves of your idea, make sure you highlight how bad it actually is, but show your willingness to move forward with the deal if that is what they want. At this point, the clients’ response should give you a clear picture of whether they are blindly following your instructions or not. Make it clear to them that this is serious and you feel like they are not fully committed, in which case you are not willing to move forward with the home transaction.
Being upfront and honest with your real estate agent goes a long way. Have this conversation with your client from the very beginning to make them feel more comfortable. Tell them that they need to speak their mind in order for you to cooperate together and sell the house. But if he/she folds and says, “You’re right; the truth is that I’ve been having second thoughts, and I don’t think I really want to sell the house”, then you saved yourself some time and money. So it’s best to act on it sooner or later.
The I’ll Know it When I See it Home buyer
People with a negative outlook will tear down every part of the process, from griping about the documents required and paperwork to be filled out to groaning over every house they see and nitpicking every tiny thing. When dealing with unreasonable home buyers that can only tell you what they don’t want, make sure you always discuss upfront what they are looking for. Have them draft a wish list and focus on finding them a home with as many as possible. Make it clear from the beginning that there are no perfect homes unless they build them from the ground and work together on finding as many features from their “wants list” as possible.
Keep a running list with all the details that might emerge about what they like or dislike about the homes and you’ll soon have the picture of the home they might actually end up in. Those types of clients end up actually being grateful that you took the time to do that and will feel as though you helped them see something that they couldn’t do for themselves. Some of them even raise your commission. How do you know which of them are most likely to do it? You’ll know it when you see them.
The Zipped Lipped home buyer
Worse than the people pleaser or the constant complainer is the home buyer who says absolutely nothing. This may be the most difficult real estate client there is. The reason why they are like that is because they think that showing any enthusiasm means not getting the best price on a home and will remain mute at all times so as not to “give themselves away”. But they only hurt themselves by doing this. If that is the case, try reassuring your client and tell them that it is in their best interest to speak their mind in order to satisfy their needs to the best of your capabilities.
Say you’re in an open house and a zipped lipped home buyer enters… now you have to play charades with them to discover if there’s one feature of the house that might not be as apparent but can attract them. When dealing with unreasonable home buyers like these, assume things out loud – like “I guess you guys eat in the kitchen and don’t need a dining room, huh?”- and see if they confirm or deny your assumption. Then, close the gap until you get a more precise deduction of what they are on about.
The quality of a real estate agent
Truth be told, if you are dealing with unreasonable home sellers or buyers, chances are you are going to be better at doing so if you are a good real estate agent. We all reach the point where we sigh heavily when we run into one of the client types mentioned above, but if you have the qualities of a top real estate agent, you are most likely to deal with unreasonable home buyers and sellers like a boss. Here are some things to keep in mind as you work your way through the treacherous terrain laid out by difficult clients.
Listen to the client
Very often, you can end up dealing with difficult home buyers or sellers because you, yourself, are difficult. Not listening to your clients is usually setting you up for failure when you try to close a home transaction. Ask a lot of questions and listen to their answers. Find out how flexible the home seller is on their price. Also, find out how many showings he/she is expecting in the first month. As a buyer’s agent, discuss with your clients exactly what they are looking for in a home, and don’t simply ignore their wish list and then try to wow them with the latest and greatest properties.
Consider that home buyers or sellers are not always able to articulate what they need, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the “know it all” type of client if they speak out about what they want. Give them space to describe their needs and learn about their expectations for the next home sale. Listen before you jump to conclusions or start educating your client about things they don’t understand.
Remember, confrontational answers can raise suspicions that the person standing in front of you might be a difficult home buyer or seller, which gives you the opportunity to decline your services.
Set expectations before moving forward
After you learned what the homebuyer or home seller expects from you and listened to their needs, explain what they should expect moving forward from here. Maybe you are dealing with a first-time home buyer or seller, and not many who reach out for your services are knowledgeable about the process. By taking these few minutes to explain the process they have to go through, you can save yourself some serious headaches later and also lay the grounds for no surprises.
Dealing with difficult home sellers or buyers that don’t know what to expect is going to be even more of a nightmare. During your first meeting, make sure you educate your clients on the basics of home buying or selling and prepare them for potential roadblocks along the way. It might be a difficult conversation to have, but going through it early on while everyone is still motivated and excited is going to save you from trouble down the road.
Communicate as often as possible
Listening and setting expectations has to do with an agent’s ability to communicate efficiently. To properly deal with difficult home buyers or sellers, try to keep them informed. Many clients will spiral out of control if they feel ignored, so try to prevent that by keeping in touch with them. Every agent had to deal with that type of client that bombarded them with text messages, calls, and emails.
To prevent that, set rules for engagement and make it clear from the very beginning at what hours they can reach out to you. Ask your clients how they would prefer to communicate and be consistent with your communication. Keeping in contact with home buyers and sellers will ensure them that you work hard and have their best interests at heart.
Dealing with unreasonable home buyers and sellers require, above all, a lot of patience and empathy, two of the most vital and greatest features a real estate agent can have. So, while we recommend you always be aware of your difficult real estate clients so you can escape them as soon as possible, don’t go hard on yourself once you’ve realized you’ve spent too long of your precious time with them. Think of it as training! You don’t want to be one of the worst of the real estate agent types: the narcissist apologizer.