8 Ways to Deal With Difficult Clients
by Evan Johnson, on July 16, 2018
Your real estate certification courses might give you plenty of knowledge about home sales. However, no class can fully prepare you for dealing with your clients. Whether you're a new real estate agent or you're a long-time pro, you're bound to have a few difficult clients.
Fortunately, there real estate agents who have been there before you. If you're struggling with a difficult client, try these words of wisdom.
Tips for Handling Difficult Clients in Real Estate
Each client has his/her own challenges. That's why we have tips for dealing with difficult clients in all their forms.
The Indecisive Client
A home is a large purchase, so it's understandable when a client is having trouble committing. However, when clients keep changing their minds on what they want in a home, it may be time for a chat.
Take some time to sit down with your clients and help them outline their priorities. Sometimes all they need is a numbered list they can come back to.
You can also help the situation by avoiding showing them homes that don't truly fit their goals. Sometimes clients say, "I hadn't thought about that before but since we're here, maybe I do want that."
The Couple Who Disagrees
Sometimes the difficulty isn't between you and a client but between two clients in a relationship. They may both have different tastes and different priorities for what they want in a home.
This tends to become clear when you start showing them houses. One client may love the house while the other hates it.
In these cases, you may need to put the showings on hold and have a sit-down with them. Tell them to come up with a list of must-haves and would-be-nice-to-haves that they can both agree on.
It can also help to direct them to a site like Zillow.com to pick out some houses they are both open to.
Sometimes you may need to come up with creative solutions. For instance, if one client wants a guest bedroom while another wants an office, look for a home with a room that can serve both services.
The Client Who Always Wants to See One More
The idea of "fear of missing out" applies to real estate in a big way. Some clients are always afraid that they'll come across something they like better so they never commit to an offer.
In these cases, it can be a good idea to set a specific goal date when they want to be in their new home. If they can truly visualize themselves in a new home, it motivates them to finally make a commitment.
While no one wants to pay more than they need to, some clients seem to spend the entire home-buying process trying to nickel-and-dime the sellers.
In these cases, your client may be overwhelmed by the many costs of buying a home. Some people underestimate the fees involved, then panic when they start finding out all the fees the process involves.
For these clients, try laying out all the costs they'll see throughout the process so they know what to expect. If they need to save up for a few more months before they can truly afford to buy, tell them to take their time.
In some cases, you won't have this problem until the negotiating process has begun. You may need to explain to your client why starting with at low-ball offer can hurt more than it helps.
The Client in a Rush
One of your first questions for your clients should be whether they have a deadline when they want/need to be in their new home. But some clients, despite not having a set deadline, try to rush through the process as quickly as possible.
It may help to sit down with these clients and show them a flowchart of the process. Explain about how long they can expect each stage to take. Make sure they don't skip any necessary parts of the process like a home inspection to get to the closing table faster.
The Client with Impossible Expectations
Some clients seem to expect to find a home that has been hand-crafted for their families. Others have lofty dreams but their budget doesn't match.
The best way to handle this situation is to prevent it from happening in the first place. In your first discussion with a client, you should be asking about their budget and what they're looking for in a home.
If their budget won't fit those goals, be honest from the start. You'll eventually need to have the conversation anyway, and if you wait until four showings later, you'll have lost some of the client's trust.
Sometimes you get through multiple showings before realizing your client wants something that is rare or non-existent in your area. In these cases, talk about the idea of purchasing a lot and building a new home so they can customize it from the start.
The Client Who Monopolizes Your Time
Every real estate agent has had clients who don't seem to realize or care that they have other clients. They may expect instant replies to emails and calls or demand to set up showings at a moment's notice.
One technique is to follow up with your client as soon as you get a message from them by telling them you'll reach out as soon as possible. This lets them know you received the message and are being receptive.
It's also a good idea to set expectations about when they can expect to hear back. For instance, tell them you will always answer a communication within 1 business day.
The Client Whose Personality Will Never Fit Yours
Despite all your efforts, there may be times when a client's personality is just too far from yours for you to work together productively. In these cases, there's no shame in referring him/her to another agent at your agency. However, this should be a last resort.
Mastering Client Relations in Real Estate
One of the most important yet most challenging parts of real estate to learn is how to work with difficult clients. At the end of the day, everyone wants the same thing: for your client to buy a great home they can afford. Remind yourself that you're all on the same team.
Even the most masterful agents need some tips from time to time. For more tips, check out more articles in our real estate advice blog.