Like many of us, if I had a dollar for every time I engaged my mouth before consulting my brain, I would be a very rich woman! When reflecting on conversations past, there are plenty of things I wish I could take back.

Fortunately, most of the faux pas comments I made during showings or the transaction process left my relationships with clients undamaged. That, and an innate ability to tell a good joke at the right moment, has facilitated many a quick recovery.

But more importantly, I’ve developed a sense of no-fly zones when it comes to clients and colleagues over the years — sometimes learning the hard way that there are promises a real estate agent should never make, and opinions we should never share. This radar, which I am constantly refining through experience, serves me well.

Here are some things we should never say in the course of our real estate practice when talking with buyers or sellers — and how to think about these topics in the future.

‘Guaranteed, you will gain equity in the next few years!’

How can we adequately predict a future market? You’re right: we can’t. We never want to guarantee a future outcome for a client, especially when it involves events we have no control over.

The better practice is to rely on and share proven historical numbers and statistics with our clients. And don’t venture an opinion on the data — let your clients arrive at their own conclusions.

‘Don’t worry about it. It looks good to me.’ 

Remember your expertise. When buyers raise a concern about the condition of an element in the home they’re buying or planning to buy, encourage them to tap experts, be it home inspectors, contractors or other pros.

Unless you’re a specialist in the field of concern, don’t act like one.

‘Save yourself the money — an inspection shouldn’t be necessary on this home.’

I can’t think of a situation in which buyers should not have a home inspected by one or a number of experts. Their money will always be well spent, and your recommendation will be a reflection of your credibility, which will build trust between you and your buyers.

‘I know the price seems steep, but my sellers will take less.’ 

We’ve all heard similar statements at sales meetings, in the lunch room and often in the course of casual conversation.

But make no mistake — this type of a comment is anything but casual. It compromises your seller and your integrity, and it increases your liability.

No need to call an attorney.’ 

Knowing our contracts and being able to walk a client through the different clauses, contingencies and deadlines should be the lowest possible bar.

However, if and when your clients ask you a question that is solely of a legal nature, you should and must recommend that they seek the wise counsel of their attorney or other expert professionals.

Great business practices begin with smart communication, and smart communication begins with keeping your ears highly tuned to your clients’ needs and expectations.

Listen more and speak less. Keep in mind that your primary role is to always put your clients’ interests above your own. Do that, and you will build a business based on trust and integrity that is rich in friendships and referrals!

Debra Galliano-Nolen is the principal broker Better Homes and Gardens Realty Partners in the Portland tri-county area. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

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