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A Survival Guide for Realtors: How to Deal with Difficult Clients

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By : M Shane    99 or more times read
Any business that involves interaction with the public requires a certain amount of patience and understanding. In the real estate business, you come across people from all walks of life, so you need to be prepared to deal with clients who are demanding and fickle. While most clients are friendly and great to work with, there are those that can make the days drag on.

Below are profiles of some of the industry's most formidable clients to work with:

The Know-It-All

The know-it-all is a seller who has done a little bit of research on their own, perhaps by talking to friends and family about their real estate transactions, and then regurgitates this information as though it were the gospel truth.

While it's great when clients are proactive in terms of learning about the market, it can be tough to deal with when the client starts telling you (the realtor) how the industry works.

Know-it-alls often become a problem when it comes to setting the sale price of a home. He is adamant that he knows the market value of his house, and says that there's no chance that he'll lower the price. Besides, he says, he knows someone who recently got an offer for more than the asking price, so there!

When dealing with a know-it-all, you'll have to haggle with the client to get the property listed for a reasonable price. Otherwise the house won't sell, and both of you will end up wasting your time.

But how do you win over a know-it-all? Agree with him. The know-it-all wants to feel heard and respected. If you try to argue with him about his industry knowledge, he'll respond defensively, and you'll end up at an unpleasant stand-still. Egos will get involved, and it won't be pretty.

As the agent, you need to let your client know that you're impressed with his initiative and know-how. Make him feel like he's making a valuable contribution by sharing his knowledge with you and you'll find that he's suddenly more open to your suggestions. It's also important to show the know-it-all comparable properties in the area so that he can see for himself what other homes are selling for in the current market. By showing him the reality of the market, you can make great strides in getting him to trust you as the professional that you are.

The Entitled Buyer

An entitled buyer is a client who expects you to jump through hoops for her. She feels that it's her right to call you any time day or night, will ask for impromptu home tours, and has a never-satisfied attitude. Yes, everyone in the customer service industry has met this person.

As with the know-it-all, listening to an entitled client and appearing to agree with her is your best bet in terms of maintaining a cordial relationship. However, it's important to set boundaries early on.

Set parameters for your dealings, and tell her it's inappropriate to call you after 9pm or on holidays. If you aren't firm with your boundaries, you're giving the entitled buyer a green light to walk all over you. You have other clients, and family and friends who need your attention also, so don't give all your energy to this one person.

The Browser & the Indecisive Seller

The browser is a buyer with a "just looking" attitude. He attends open houses, gets information from multiple real estate agents, and then never contacts the realtors again.

The browser is a frustrating client to deal with because he isn't actually a client. You may spend time doing work for him, but the reality is that he has no intention of buying.

If a buyer gives you the impression that he or she is just mulling around the idea of purchasing real estate, give them your contact information and be friendly, but don't go out of your way to do work for them; they could be wasting your time. It's best to follow-up with a simple email or a telephone call so that you keep them as a potential client, but you're not utilizing a lot of your time and energy to do so.

A close cousin of the browser is the indecisive seller. This is a client who says that he wants to sell his home, but hasn't quite made up his mind yet. He may get a lot of information from you, only to decide that he'd prefer to go the FSBO route, or he decides not to sell after all.

Like the browser, the indecisive seller may see a real estate agent as a free resource; a person that he can tap for information, with no obligation to pay.

Indecisive sellers are a tricky bunch to deal with because you won't truly know if they're committed to the sale until after you've put in a lot of work. If you think you have an indecisive seller on your hands, give them a solid sales pitch, and be ready to follow up with them. You want to stay on their minds so that if they do decide to sell, they'll turn to you and not to somebody else.

Remember that all clients—including the difficult ones—deserve to be treated with respect and consideration. Communicate with them regularly, and always make sure that they feel like they've been heard. This simple act of attentive listening can turn even the most difficult client into a lifelong customer and a solid source for referrals.

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