There are many reasons a past client or current friend may not reach out to you as their real estate agent, and here are just 15 of them from broker Teresa Boardman, who says it’s best not to take it personally.

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This post was updated Feb. 22, 2024.

Keeping in touch with past clients is essential, and so is doing a great job. Repeat clients and referrals are the bread and butter of the real estate agent’s business.

I still remember losing my first client and that was at least 18 years ago. It felt like a slap and I assumed that it was about me — but it wasn’t, it was about the homebuyer who later married her agent. They have bought and sold at least four properties together, that I know of.

Here are 15 reasons why people who are happy with their agent may choose to work with someone else

1. Circumstances have changed for the client and they believe they need a new agent to meet their new needs. For example, they are going from a starter home to luxury real estate.

2. The client’s mother, brother, wife, uncle or best friend got a real estate license and needs the business.

3. The homebuyer or seller is being strategic. They wish to form a relationship with another agent for some reason that has nothing to do with performance. For example, the agent may be the wife of one of the buyer’s bosses or maybe someone who just joined the church.

4. There are people who buy and sell real estate often and work with several agents for reasons known only to them.

5. Sometimes homebuyers want to see a house on Tuesday, but their agent is out of town, so they choose another agent, and they end up working with that agent to buy the house.

6. The homeowner was impressed with another agent’s flyers. (That happened to me several years ago.)

7. The buyer never thought to bring his agent to an auction, new construction or sheriff’s sale, or to ask for help buying an investment property.

8. The buyer believed that if she worked with the listing agent, it would be easier to buy the house with less competition.

9. The buyer, who is now a seller, got married, and they use the wife’s agent because he is her cousin.

10. Homeowners have decided they want to sell it themselves, maybe because their agent made it look so easy.

11. Clients thought the agent might be too busy and didn’t want to bother him.

12. You did a great job, but the clients didn’t like you. They thought you were too _____ (fill in the blank).

13. They found out that you don’t vote the same as they do or that you go to a different church or that you don’t go to church at all.

14. You support a charity they are against and do not want any of their hard-earned money to go to that charity. (This happened to me once when a client saw me at a fundraising event.)

15. When there are many agents capable of doing a good job, the client may not see any advantage in working with the same agent again.

There are so many more reasons a past client who was happy with the job an agent did might not become a repeat client. Doing a great job does not entitle a person to repeat business.

Like the time a buyer told me at the closing that I did a wonderful job, but that I don’t need to keep in touch because her father is a Realtor and she will work with him next time.

Sometimes it comes down to being in the right place at the right time — and vice versa

I always asked new clients how they found me. When representing sellers, I was almost never their first agent. It often comes down to being in the right place at the right time. There is an element of luck, too, but we generally don’t acknowledge that.

I’ve even had some clients choose me over their former agent partly because of my car. It was not an elderly car, but it was by no means a symbol of wealth and success.

Real estate agents become the face of the transaction. If something goes wrong, even if it has nothing to do with the agent, it can taint the transaction, and the agent may end up losing any repeat business.

Real estate agents die, retire or move, leaving orphaned clients behind. People who bought a house 15 years ago may not have the option of using the same agent again. Those orphaned clients are an opportunity for agents to form new relationships.

We have all had the experience of seeing a for-sale sign in front of a friend’s house or in front of a past client’s house, and our signs have been planted on the properties of people who have family members who are real estate agents.

The worst

I’ll never forget the day I came home and found the for sale sign in front of my next-door neighbor’s house.

We had been close friends for decades. Her daughter-in-law chose the agent, and my neighbor went along with it. She did not tell me she was moving, nor did she say goodbye. It isn’t unusual for a close friend to want to work with an agent who isn’t a friend.

One of my closest friends is a past client who was selling her condo on her own because she didn’t believe in real estate agents. We first met when she was struggling to sell it and wasn’t able to keep up with her mortgage payments. I won her business, and we went on to do some volunteer work together. She has referred others to me, and I helped her family buy a vacation property.

Do a great job, and stay in touch. Some clients will be sources of repeat business and referrals, and others will not be. Remember that it isn’t always personal, and it isn’t always about you. Sometimes it helps to develop amnesia.

Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker/owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is also the founder of

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