I had no closings during the month of July. There — I said it publicly. I was supposed to have one, but the deal fell apart shortly before the closing. One isn’t enough, but it is still better than the zero dollars and zero cents that I brought in.

My lack of production makes me want to apologize to the universe for taking up space and using valuable oxygen.

There are some closings on my calendar and that takes a little of the pain away. "Commission breath" happens when we want or need a sale so badly that it shows. Our clients can sense it.

Our desire to bring in some money can cause us to make some poor choices or to come on too strong when dealing with clients and potential clients.

Our buyers and sellers are the people who are spending the money, and this is about them — not about us.

We cannot let the desire for a check affect our relationships with our clients, and we cannot let it get in the way of acting in their best interests. That is our code and our responsibility.

There have been a couple of times this summer that I have worked for free. There was the buyer who was ready to buy. I showed her homes, she made an offer, the offer was accepted, and the financing was approved — but two weeks before the closing she decided to back out of the deal.

All I can say is: "Ouch!" I did some serious soul-searching when she asked me if I would still work with her.

Did I work with someone that I should not have worked with because I needed a commission badly? I don’t want to do my job and not get paid. That time could be better spent searching for a serious buyer.

I talked to her, she answered my questions to my satisfaction, and so I decided to work with her all over again. She turned out to be a good client, even though she made me go through the entire process twice.

Working for free can be expensive and time consuming and should be avoided even when money is tight. Working with a buyer without a buyer’s contract is stupid in any market.

Some agents are shy about getting the thing signed. They think that they may lose a client and would rather wait until the buyer wants to write an offer. There are so many things wrong with that idea, both legally and from a business point of view, that I don’t know where to start.

There is never a good reason for working with a buyer who is not under contract. The contract does not guarantee a commission if the buyer doesn’t buy a home, but it does give the listing agent some protection and it shows that the buyer is committed to the agent.

I like to interview my buyers. I like to find out how motivated they are. Sure, I have plenty of time to show homes right now, but it isn’t the best use of my time if the buyer isn’t going to buy or can’t buy.

It would be better to spend the time finding a good buyer. When I was new in the business, my broker encouraged me to work with anyone and everyone if there was the slightest chance of a sale.

Sure, why not? It didn’t cost the broker a dime, and I could have gotten lucky with an unlikely prospect.

Sellers can be a tremendous time suck and expense. I like to find out how motivated they are. I just walked away from a listing because I did not see it as a potential sale. The home has been on the market for a year.

One of the sellers really wants to sell but the other one is attached to the home. It is overpriced, and the attitude of the sellers is that if someone will pay what they are asking, they will sell. If not, they won’t.

They are not the kind of sellers I want to work with. They do not want to lower the price, and after a year on the market the value has dropped. Even if someone did offer the sellers what they are asking, an appraiser would not go along with it.

This week I let a listing expire. The seller would have been happy to renew, and I have only a few listings right now. Why didn’t I renew the contract? The seller will not come down in price and the home isn’t getting any showings.

I can only list it, I cannot sell it, so there isn’t any reason for me to keep the contract. I cannot leverage a listing that has been on the market for nine months with no traffic. There are no phone calls or sign calls or inquiries. I never should have taken the listing.

There isn’t any reason to take on an unmotivated seller. Maybe you want to take the gamble that they will lower the price, but it is unlikely that they will unless they have a reason that gives them the motivation to sell.

There is an emotional component to commission breath, too. The only way to beat it is to remain emotionally unattached to the outcome. It is possible to do a good job without thinking about the check or counting on it.

The detachment evens out the emotional ups and downs. Life is easier, and it is easier to make good business decisions.

Bad clients are bad clients no matter what the market is doing, and lack of business is not a good reason for taking them on.

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