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Don’t ‘date’ the real estate ingrate

How to spot would-be clients you should drop like a hot potato

I recently heard a radio host reading a piece on the subject, "Who not to date — ever." It was so funny, and right on, that I tried to Google it for my husband to read.

Turns out there are millions of results for that search term. I never did find the right one. But after reading through the first 10 or so entries, I concluded that trillions of people the world over hate a nag, a know-it-all, and a money-grubber.

The stereotypes were spot-on, and it got me thinking about our real estate clientele. Because, you have to admit, courting a client is a lot like dating — minus the butterflies, romance and tequila shots.

We dedicate weekends to these people, buy them steak dinners and have their number on speed dial. We practice making small talk in the rearview mirror on the way to pick them up. We dress to impress. We wash the car. And we never pass gas or burp in front of them (I hope!).

Well, there are a few types of clients we should drop like hot potatoes. Dating — err, working with them — just isn’t worth the pain and eventual post-breakup stress. Here’s my top three guys/girls to avoid working with:

1. The Insecurely Independent

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"My dad really thinks I should buy a house. What do you think?"

What do I think? I think I’ll run for the hills.

This person doesn’t know what she wants. "Do you like the kitchen?" "What do you think of this paint color?" "Buying a house is a good idea, isn’t it?"

These questions will never end and, frankly, there is no "right" answer. The Insecurely Independent may have adequate credit and a sizable downpayment, but she is lacking a very important part of the home-buying equation: a mind of her own.

It’s the equivalent of dating the hot girl who doesn’t know who our secretary of state is, or how often we vote for a new president — and when you ask her where she wants to go to dinner she says, "Whatever you want. I don’t care!"

When you clearly know that your client is not purchasing for herself, but only to please someone else, this is a good time to say goodbye and wish her well.

2. The Ungrateful Ingrate

"I’m an attorney."

Unbelievable but true, this sentence apparently qualified as an introduction in this guy’s mind. And he said so much in three little words!

He wanted to look at a condo unit in a high-class, gated community. Though I should have known better, I took the arrogant guy over to the neighborhood and checked us through the gates. After touring the first unit he brusquely told me, "Just pretend you lost me in here. I’ll show myself out."

Uh-uh. No you didn’t!

Clients who use and abuse should be avoided at all costs. The Ungrateful Ingrate assumes that because he is a big-shot with money we will desperately do his bidding to get the sale. He expects us to salivate over his checkbook and thus, step aside and take abuse.

Well, no commission is worth lowering your own standards of professional behavior and ethics to please some idiot’s ego. So what if he or she is an attorney? I, and only I, have the lockbox code and the moral compass to use it appropriately. Boot to the butt, Mr. Ungrateful Ingrate. You are history.

3. The Casual Dater

You’ve spent three weekends wining and dining him, but he still can’t quite decide if you guys have chemistry. You’ve even got up the nerve to have a little "DTR" talk (define the relationship, for those of you not in middle school), but he is resolute. He will not sign any exclusive buyer services agreement. That’s just not the way he works!

Well, well, well. These buyers remind me of "The Bachelor" — or "The Bachelorette"! Kissin’ all over 20 Realtors, actin’ all cute, sharing "deep and personal" secrets — and ultimately dumping every single one of their suitors. Even the winner gets dumped eventually!

The Casual Dater wants all the action without the commitment. It really doesn’t matter how many calls you return promptly or listings you send him. Make no mistake: He will date other people, and often.

The Casual Dater’s ultimate goal is to find a FSBO in which he can negotiate his own sale and cut out all Realtors. If he can’t find what he’s looking for in the FSBO market, he targets foreclosures and short sales. From my experience, these folks have no qualms about writing multiple deals with multiple Realtors, playing the game until one bank signs off, and then — yep, you guessed it — the rest of the deals and Realtors are dumped.

Don’t waste your time on the Casual Dater. He doesn’t love you. He just loves what you do.

This business is tough. For sure, there are lonely times; everyone has them.

The memory of that last great sale has started to fade and the days on the calendar are clicking by at a break-neck pace. The desperation mounts as the telephone refuses to ring and no one is clicking on your online profile! But wait! Don’t make out with the first person to walk through that door. Respect yourself, your time, and your own efforts.

Don’t date the ingrate.

Alisha Alway Braatz is a buyer’s broker for Coldwell Banker Advantage One Properties in Eugene, Ore., and a real estate humorist.

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