• When you hear those words -- "But I have to do what my client wants" -- the agent is saying the clients are bullying him or her; the agent is not leading the clients.
  • The agent is admitting they know what they are doing is wrong, and you have to deal with their lack of ability to educate their clients.
  • You have to honor the clients' goals, but they do not know the way through the real estate maze, so agents need to lead -- not follow.

“But I have to do what my client wants.”

When you hear those words, the agent is saying that clients are bullying him or her; the agent isn’t leading the clients.

The agent is admitting he or she knows that what’s being done is wrong, and you will just have to deal with his or her lack of ability to educate clients.

Of course you have to honor the clients’ goals, but they don’t know the way through the real estate maze, so agents need to lead, not follow.

A ridiculous offer

I received a ridiculous offer from an inexperienced agent, so I called to see what I could do to help. It had way too much time for inspections, too long a time before closing, low earnest money and a price that made me laugh.

We talked about collaborative negotiating. I was trying to figure out the most important factor for her clients. Was it the price, the long time to closing, the low earnest money or the ability to walk away using any of the contingencies?

I wanted to suggest that she revise the offer to concentrate on the most important issue and make the offer more appealing on the other issues. She had no idea which issue was the most important; she said that her clients wanted to buy the house.

I explained that my aging sellers were emotional about their home of many years, so if she wanted to present this offer, they would be so upset that it would poison the process.

In my area of the South, if you insult sellers, they will make you apologize by paying a much higher price for the property — if they sell to you at all.

What the phrase says about your skills

Then I heard the dreaded phrase: “But I have to do what my clients want.”

It’s one of the saddest sounds in real estate because it means that agents know what they are doing is wrong, and they aren’t good enough to persuade their clients to do the right thing.

You have to put your clients’ interest first — well ahead of your own. You have to get your clients what they need in a transaction and focus on their best interest.

However, you are the professional who should be the one driving them in the proper direction, not the lost soul who will let them drive you off a cliff.

Your clients do not know what they are doing. That is why they hired a professional agent. They don’t know how to get through the real estate maze. Hopefully, you do. You should be guiding them through — not following them.

I can just feel the trolls reading this, getting ready to make pious comments about how important it is that agents be guided by their clients’ wishes.

I have no problem with having my clients tell me where they want to end up. In fact, I always want to know what their goals are so I can be guided by them.

My problem is with agents who are so weak that they cannot school their clients in the best way to get their desired results.

Weak agents lose deals

When you get to this position in a negotiation, it’s tough to improve it because the other agent will probably misinterpret your offer of assistance.

In this case, I asked the agent to explain to her clients how my sellers would react to this offer and suggested that they start off on the right foot.

As usual, this was not well-received by the buyers, as they thought I was trying to trick them into doing something that was in my clients’ interest. I can understand the buyers’ suspicion; I work for the sellers.

However, I was trying to tell them something that was in their best interest.

The other problem with dealing with weak agents who are being bullied by their clients is that the clients want to continue to bully their agent.

No matter how good the idea, they want to dominate the agent, and I get to present the results of their effort.

I will fast forward to the end. We sold to other buyers. And I’m glad we did because the animosity created by this first offer would have lasted throughout the sale process.

You need to do what gets your clients to the destination they want, but you are the driver — not them.

If you have negotiating problems, please send them to tim@timburrell.com as you might get them answered on Inman.

Tim Burrell is a Realtor with RE/MAX United, and he solves agent’s negotiating problems at www.NegotiatingConsultant.com. You can follow him on Twitter @BurrellRealtor and Facebook.

Email Tim Burrell.

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