Difficult Clients

I usually don’t have difficult clients, mostly because I have no problem saying, “perhaps you might find a better fit with another agent”. That being said, I find most difficult clients are difficult because they are frustrated.

With buyers, releasing them from our contract is usually because they are unrealistic about what they want or are able to pay for how much house they want. No matter how nice they are, there’s only so much I can do when they want a $500k house and qualify for $200k.

Sellers are different – it’s a much more intimate relationship with sellers in some ways – a different quality to the time we spend together. Buyers usually get frustrated because they aren’t finding what they want. Sellers get frustrated because of lack of showings, too many showings, rude agents or buyers, doors left unlocked, lack of notice for showings, scheduled showings where no one shows up – you name it.

There was the seller who said that God told him that I needed to be saved and that’s why he hired me. I found this out quite a while after I listed their property. He and his wife were wonderful – kind, generous, not a contentious moment – but after a couple of months, I realized that we were operating at cross purposes – I wanted to sell his house, he wanted to save my soul. I finally explained that to them and released them from our contract.

Then there was the seller who called me at least once a week in a drunken rage, with obscenities and vile accusations, and then called back the next day apologizing all over the place. The problem was – when he wasn’t drunk, I really liked him! But ultimately, the abuse got to be too much and I released him from our contract.

I worked with one seller who wanted to dictate exactly what I should do to sell her property. In excruciating detail.  And multiple times per day.  I was scheduled to hold her property open on Sunday (2nd day on the market) when the tenant called me to say that the owner had just let herself in first thing in the morning – with no notice – to make sure the apartment was presentable for the open house. Unfortunately for the tenant and for the owner, he and his wife were in the bedroom and were…ummm…busy. They didn’t know the owner was in the apartment until she burst into bedroom. He ended up calling the police on her. I released her from our contract on the spot.

Funnily enough, I’ve had several agents refer their difficult clients to me and our transactions have always gone just fine.

(c) 2011 Susan Pruden

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2 Responses to Difficult Clients

  1. I guess sometimes it’s just chemistry. I sometimes wonder if home buyers and home sellers that are difficult with their Realtors are equally as difficult with, say, their auto mechanic, dentist or accountant.

    The home buying/selling process brings out the best or the worst in people, I think, and because Realtors maintain a relatively long and somewhat intimate (in a platonic way) relationship the good and bad personality traits really come out.

    • susanpruden says:

      I’m willing to bet that the really difficult ones, like those I described, are problems for just about anyone, including their families.

      I also think that since stress tends to bring out the worst in people, we sometimes see people at their worst. I always tell my clients that if they really really feel the need to vent, they should do so to me, rather than a family member or friend. I don’t take it personally (unless it is personal!) so I can listen without getting all wound up. Either that or I just go home and kick Joseph 🙂

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