Real estate is a service industry. As agents, we spend lots of time and money attracting leads and trying to convert them into clients. But sometimes you’re going to attract buyers or sellers you don’t want to work with, and you’ll find yourself wondering if you should “fire” them. When you’re in that situation, here are a few things to think about before you lose your sanity.

  • Real estate professionals won't always work with dream clients, but they do have the ability to choose who they will -- and will not -- do business with.
  • Clients who make unreasonable demands or don't respect you will make your life stressful.
  • Don't back down from someone who bullies you into working with them under unfavorable terms.

Real estate is a service industry. As agents, we spend lots of time and money attracting leads and trying to convert them into clients.

But sometimes you’re going to attract buyers or sellers you don’t want to work with, and you’ll find yourself wondering if you should “fire” them. When you’re in that situation, here are a few things to think about before you lose your sanity.

Fire a client who makes unreasonable demands

“Unreasonable” is a subjective term. I get up early and frequently will pick up the phone for clients at 7 a.m., but unless I’m in the midst of hot and heavy negotiating on a deal, my phone is turned off at 9 p.m. Others might have no problem picking up for a client at midnight, if they are still awake.

You can avoid some of these problems if you set expectations up front, when first signing on a client. Ask them how they prefer to be contacted, and set your boundaries.

For example, I tell clients that I won’t pick up my phone if I am with another client. I answer my phone whenever possible during the day, but sometimes I am in a closing or with someone.

When clients get angry that it takes an hour for me to call them back because I was in a closing, I explain that I return calls promptly, certainly by the end of business each day, but they cannot expect instant 24/7 access to me. A buyer or seller who insists on operating outside your business guidelines will only stress you out.

Fire a client who does not respect you

Good clients will respect both your time and your knowledge. Buyers who demand you jump in the car on a moment’s notice because they just saw a new property go up for sale are not respecting your time or schedule.

Educate buyers by explaining how you have to look up MLS information and schedule the appointment (yes, even if it looks vacant). You have other clients and run on schedules, too.

Buyers who threaten to call another agent because you are unable to show them properties immediately are not worth sweating over.

“Oh, but I’ve already invested six months and 38 showings in this buyer!”

Yep. And what do you think showing 39 will bring you?

Similarly, a seller who doesn’t accept your advice and insists on listening to his best friend’s sister’s cousin who said the house is worth twice what you think it’s worth won’t be easier to handle six months from now when the house doesn’t sell.

Fire a client who fails to see your value

We’ve all been asked to reduce our commission or do something at a significant discount. Sometimes you hold firm, and sometimes you bend. It’s a matter of your choice, and your broker’s office rules regarding fee structures.

But when a client aggressively beats you up over money, it’s time to cut the cord. Real estate professionals bring value to a transaction, and if that was not true, your client would not be sitting in front of you right now.

Prove your value and explain what it is you offer for the price. Don’t be bullied into offering your services for less than you believe they are worth.

If you believe in your value and what you bring to the table, walk away from the client. I am not saying you cannot lower your fees, as of course, they are negotiable. But once you or your broker have set your fees, don’t let someone strong arm you into taking a client at a lower fee structure.

Agents who cannot prove their value will regularly be asked to discount their fees. Likewise, agents who don’t believe in their own value will cave in to the discount-seeking client, even if they walk away silently berating themselves for giving in.

Nobody wants to fire a client. But sometimes you must clean house to make way for individuals who might be a better fit for you. To attract better clients, start by creating room in your business by weeding out those who make your life more stressful than it needs to be.

Erica Ramus, MRE is the broker/owner of RAMUS Real Estate. You can follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Email Erica Ramus.

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