I was in the middle of a client meeting when my sponsoring broker called me. “I just want you to know,” he said, “that Dick and Scott’s apartment is on the market. They listed with the competition.”

WTF? Dick and Scott, who I had spent half my spring traipsing around with, in search of something new for them to buy? Dick and Scott, who had forced me to cool my heels in a diner for an hour, before I made the knock-’em-dead listing presentation that they had said “certainly convinced them that when they sold, they would go with me?” Dick and Scott, who had put specific pieces of furniture in storage on my recommendation? Dick and Scott, who I had run to the Benjamin Moore store for so I could match their paint colors?

They listed with the COMPETITION?

The worst part was that I was in a meeting, so I couldn’t even freak out properly. I got the news right before Thanksgiving, so I figured I couldn’t even freak out anyway.

“You should call them,” said my sponsoring broker, who has known them for 20 years.

“You call them,” I shot back. “I will sit down and have this discussion, but not before Thanksgiving. I am just too hacked off. I will get in a fight with them, and ruin everyone’s holiday.”

Well, that was a sign of maturity I wouldn’t have displayed a decade ago. But after Thanksgiving, this still had to be dealt with, so I did the grown-up, responsible thing.

I went to a mutual friend and got the story from him.

I know that’s really high-schoolish, but it was all I was capable of. I was still so mad!

The problem with being a buyer’s broker is that people screw around, I mean “information-gather” for awhile before they decide to buy. If you misread when they’re in the active part of their buying cycle, you can spend months showing them properties, and they won’t buy, and then the minute you turn your back, boom, another broker swoops down on them.

This, it turns out, is exactly what happened. I had been showing them two-bedrooms when they weren’t quite active – lining up their money. This took months. I admit after a couple of months of intensive looking, I would ping them, but not constantly.

And then, of course, once they were ready to buy, Mr. Other Broker swoops in and convinces them they need to buy a one-bedroom apartment.

Well, of course it hadn’t occurred to me to show them something markedly SMALLER and MORE EXPENSIVE than what they had claimed to be looking for.

But once that was done, it was done. The competition got their sale as a reward for being the broker on their buy.

Comforting, isn’t it, that when someone elbows you out of the way, they jab you twice?

I would love to hear from readers as to strategies to prevent this from happening again.

Of course I made the mutual friend swear loyalty to me, and insisted that he pledged when he sells his apartment, I’m his broker.

But I hated to do that; I thought it was over-the-top.

And unfortunately, the only defense against being out-manuevered in this way, that I can see, is to be in constant contact with one’s clients. In other words, to be over-the-top; one of those annoying, in-your-face brokers who is always sending over listings, appropriate or not, and always spamming with e-mails, just to stay on someone’s radar screen.

This is behavior I hate being on the receiving end of, and don’t particularly want to be on the generating end of, but I wonder if I have a choice.

In an effort to pick up the pieces, I told Dick when I saw him at a party that I might have a buyer for him – which is true. He would barely talk to me – too embarrassed I guess – so I am negotiating with my competitor about showing this to my buyer client.

Who, by the way, I pinged three times yesterday. Consumers complain all the time about how they’re annoyed by real estate agents, but gosh, they make us this way.

Alison Rogers is a licensed salesperson and author of “Diary of a Real Estate Rookie.”

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