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Dealing with the Real Estate Client from Hell

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By : Carolyn Capalbo    99 or more times read
Mrs. Snigglesworth is, no doubt, an estimable lady in some circles and you’re perfectly willing to help her find the right home. What you’re not willing to do is stand by while she makes comments about your weight, demands that you do ineffective marketing, complains about having to schedule walkthroughs and repeatedly tells you that she thinks that real estate agents are all crooks. How do you deal with Mrs. Snigglesworth without returning the compliment of remarking on her lack of hair, moronic ideas about real estate and dresses that do nothing to flatter her less-than-svelte figure?

The first thing that real estate agents need to realize is that there are a lot of Mrs. Snigglesworths in the world. Every agent – indeed every person on the planet – has a story about The Client from Hell to trot out at luncheons and over a can of beer. Although when Mrs. Sniggy (as you always think to yourself) makes another crack about “we large women” as she eyes your size 10 figure or mentions that she is sure that your fee is outrageous for driving around for a couple of hours, you really wonder whether your friends and colleagues have a real idea who the Client from Hell is, when you know that she owns a 3 bedroom ranch, wears large flowered patterns and has a fondness for fuchsia.

One thing you can do about Mrs. Snigglesworth is look at her thinning hair and fashion sense and consider the source. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that people who are unhappy with themselves like to find fault with others. Mrs. Snigglesworth is operating from her own reality; she is not capable of making a true assessment of your personal characteristics. She is only attacking from her poor platform, which will disappear as soon as your business relationship with you is concluded. Don’t take what she says as a genuine evaluation of your character.

If Mrs. Snigglesworth is the kind of client who likes to call you randomly throughout the day with spurious information, don’t feel that you have to answer her right away or outside of your stated calling hours. Answer her reasonably promptly, but don’t feel that you have to answer right away! She may never learn to respect your boundaries, but you will feel better about enforcing them. If you set out that you are only available from 8 AM to 5 PM Tuesday through Sunday, then don’t feel that you have to answer her three voice mails, 15 texts and 31 MSN messages sent between the hours of 3AM and 10PM Monday until your communication hours come around again. Exceptions can always be made in the event of an emergency, of course, but remember that you have a life too and your family time is important.

Boundaries also need to be established concerning what your expectations are. You have the right to expect a clear picture of what Mrs. Snigglesworth wants to accomplish with your help. If she needs assistance finding a new home, by all means give her your best. However it is her job to tell you that she wants only 3 or more bedrooms for her next home or that she does not want to live next to the warehouse district. If you find that she keeps adding criteria to her “ideal” home list and expecting you to exercise clairvoyance to find it out, you should have a talk with her to determine what she really wants.

You don’t have to take insults or rude behavior from your client; if Mrs. Snigglesworth does or says things that are objectionable, it is perfectly okay to tell her so in a professional manner. “I don’t appreciate that. Please do not speak that way to me again” is fine, as is “I realize that you’re very busy, but I’m very busy too and if you are more than 10 minutes late again, I will reschedule the walkthrough.” 

If all else fails, you can consider referring Mrs. Snigglesworth to another agent. You will lose out on the commission, but you could possibly get a referral fee and the sweet, sweet knowledge that you will never be at her beck and call again. Consider this step carefully before you commit yourself, but if the situation is truly intolerable, perhaps a referral is better than losing your temper and saying things you might regret later.

Dealing with the Mrs. Snigglesworths of the world can be extremely difficult, especially when you are doing your best and are not receiving any appreciation for it and your business relationship with your client seems to drag on with no end in sight. However, by setting boundaries, standing up for yourself and determining where your point-of-no-return is, you can feel better about dealing with her and her ilk.
Carolyn Capalbo is an expert military relocation specialist and real estate agent serving Prince William County real estate. Visit to find updated market information about areas in Prince William, including Leesburg real estate.

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