Table of Contents:
- The Indecisive Client
- The Unrealistic Client
- The Overly Involved Client
- The Under-Involved Client
- The Know-It-All Client
- The Abusive Client
As a real estate agent or broker, you interact with many different individuals. This can be one of the job’s many perks — meeting interesting people keeps your life exciting and variable. But certain clients may make your job more difficult. Learning how to handle challenging real estate clients can help you feel confident and successful, reduce your stress and help you close more deals. Here are some tips and tricks to help you manage different types of clients.
1. The Indecisive Client
Some homebuyers have little idea what they’re looking for. Whether they like a property or not can feel unpredictable. This makes finding listings a time-consuming process, and it might cause tension if the client blames you for not finding something they want. You can use a few strategies to curb indecisiveness and make your client happy:
Ask Specific Questions
Create a pre-written questionnaire that’s as specific as possible. Go through the prompts together, discussing each point in as much detail as necessary. Ask questions like:
- How many bedrooms do you need?
- Do you prefer carpet or hard surface floors?
- How important is having a yard?
Some clients may have preferences they did not realize they had. This will also show your dedication to making them happy, which can reduce the odds of resentment. You might also ask more general questions, including:
- Do you have any kids or pets?
- What do you like to do for fun?
These “getting to know you” questions can help you build a stronger relationship with your client and better gauge their needs. For example, if they say they have three children and a golden retriever, you can know to show them multi-bedroom homes with fenced-in yards. If they say they love to do yoga at home each evening, you can look for homes with potential yoga studio spaces.
Use Pictures to Cut Back on Tours
Show the indecisive client professional photographs of your listings. If the photographs do not impress the client, you need not visit the location together. This can save you a great deal of time and effort. You can also get a feel for their taste, even if they’re unsure how to articulate it. For instance, if they seem enthusiastic when you show them pictures of open floor plans, you can mark that down as a preference. Often, clients will have preferences but not know the real estate lingo to describe them. A picture is worth a thousand words in these cases.
2. The Unrealistic Client
Some homebuyers have expectations in the stratosphere, with down-to-Earth budgets. Alternatively, some home sellers think their home is more valuable than it is. These clients might seem impossible to please, but you can try to communicate with them clearly by writing out the numbers.
An unrealistic buyer may not believe you when you say their budget has no room for an infinity pool and five bedrooms. Instead of expecting them to take you at your word, collect the data. You can use online listing databases or statistics from the National Association of Realtors. Show them the average cost of a home with everything they want compared to their budget.
You can use the same tactic for unrealistic sellers. Show them the cost of other similar homes to help them understand what to expect. In either case, if a client will not believe the data, they may never believe you. If they insist on their unrealistic ideas, it may be time to end the relationship.
3. The Overly Involved Client
While some enthusiasm is a bonus, an overly involved client can be a major source of stress. They might contact you multiple times a day, wanting constant updates. They may get frustrated if you cannot respond right away or have nothing new to share. Here are some ways to deal with this situation:
Plan Updates in Advance
After each meeting with your client, let them know when you’ll contact them again. Be as specific as possible with the time you’ll reach out, and create a notification to remind yourself. Leaving your meeting times uncertain might cause this type of client anxiety, prompting them to pick up the phone. They’ll be less likely to contact you if they’re expecting a call in a few hours. Make sure to stick to your word and be realistic when planning meetings.
Share as Much Insight as Possible
An overly involved client is often desperate to be in the loop. It’s not enough to offer them vague or incomplete information. When they ask questions, share as much insight as you can. Instead of saying, “We have a few interested buyers, but none have made offers yet,” list out:
- How many interested buyers you have
- How enthusiastic they seem
- What hang-ups they might have
- As much other information as you can share
Even if you leave out some details, the client will feel you’ve told them everything you know and will be less likely to keep prompting you for more information.
Right away, make sure your client knows your boundaries. For instance, you might mention which hours you’re available to contact. Even in the real estate business, an unsolicited phone call at 2 a.m. is not OK. If a client disregards your boundaries, they may have little respect for you. You might consider ending the relationship. However, if you never established clear boundaries, the client may not realize they’re overstepping.
4. The Under-Involved Client
On the other end of the spectrum, some clients lack interest. They may ignore your calls and emails or only respond after several days. Clients like these can make the process take longer. You might use a couple of strategies to work with these clients:
- Excite them with new technology: One of the best innovations of modern real estate is the 3D virtual tour, which makes you feel like you’re touring a listing without leaving your own house. You might use 3D tours to excite and interest an indifferent client. Everyone likes playing with immersive new technology.
- Only show the best listings or best offers: If your client’s attention is tough to hold, only reach out to share the best listings or offers. This can save you time and lessen the client’s burden, which can contribute to a better relationship.
5. The Know-It-All Client
One of the most challenging clients is the know-it-all. They might be an avid Home and Garden Television (HGTV) fan. They might have been chatting with their friend who just bought a house. They might have even spent time researching before they called. Either way, a know-it-all is unlikely to listen to your expert insight. They may even question your status as an expert, despite your license and years of experience. When faced with a know-it-all client, here’s what you can do:
Set Aside Time for Education
Before you start trying to find a home or find buyers, set aside time to sit with the client and explain the current market. Explain what they should expect based on the data and your experience. Show them numbers and statistics, which are much harder to contest than generalizations.
Offer Validation and Be Patient
Sometimes, know-it-alls have underlying insecurities and act the way they do for validation. Arguing with them may make them defensive and combative. Instead, provide the recognition they seek. This can reduce their urge to show off, allowing you to present accurate information. Here are three ways you can progress into a productive conversation with a know-it-all client:
- Thank them for their input: Even if everything they’ve said is wrong, thank them for saying it. Tell them you appreciate their input and can see they’ve researched the topic. You might say, “Thank you for making that suggestion. I appreciate you taking the time to think about this.” Use a genuine, thoughtful tone. From there, you can offer your point of view.
- Point out what they got right: Find something correct in what they’ve said, even if their conclusion was off. Telling them they’re right about something supplies the validation they need, so you can then offer corrections. For instance, say, “You’re absolutely right — hardwood floors can increase the value of your home. However, these floors need re-staining, so the increase in value may be offset by maintenance expenses.”
- Speak from personal experience: When you need to correct one of these clients, speak from personal experience. Say, “In my experience, I’ve found most homes with those features cost about this much.” Using “I” statements is a great way to limit combativeness in any relationship.
When dealing with a know-it-all, it’s important to be patient. Though these people can be aggravating, losing control of your emotion might harm your professional reputation. Instead, do everything in your power to sustain your patience.
6. The Abusive Client
In this business, you have to deal with all kinds of people. However, you need not tolerate abusive real estate clients or feel guilty about ending a relationship with them. Here are a few signs your client is abusive and you should consider cutting ties:
- They’re often rude or curt: Sometimes, tensions can rise and clients might come across as rude. Buying or selling a home can spark emotion. With that said, if your client is often inconsiderate with their language or demeanor, you might want to end the relationship. You need not endure constant verbal abuse.
- They have no respect for your boundaries: If you’ve set clear boundaries but your client ignores them, it may be time to walk away. If you’ve said it’s only okay to call you between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., yet your client keeps calling you at 10 p.m., they are not respecting you as an individual. Set boundaries and allow yourself to enforce them.
- They belittle or insult you: A client who believes you’re incompetent may always be difficult. If your client belittles you, bosses you around or often makes insulting comments, you might need to break things off.
- They make you uncomfortable: You and your client should have a professional relationship. If the client oversteps, making flirtatious comments or otherwise breaching professionalism, you can and should end the relationship.
How to Avoid Difficult Clients
Even when you have all the right tools to handle tough clients, it’s best to avoid them if possible. They can drain your energy and make your job harder than it needs to be. Use these tips to avoid difficult real estate clients:
Most employers will only hire someone after at least one interview. The interview provides an opportunity to gauge someone’s background, objectives and personality. Even if a candidate has a great resume, an unsatisfactory interview can be a deal-breaker. It’s a good idea to plan interviews with potential clients before entering an agreement.
Plan a pre-screening interview with new clients. Ask about their goals and expectations and let them know what you need from them. This will help you determine if they’re a good match for you. If the client is dismissive or rude during this interview, let them know you will not be able to help them. If the client is stubborn about unrealistic goals, you can do the same.
Determine Your Own Limits
You likely know which types of clients you can handle and which cause you the most stress. Decide for yourself which characteristics you’re willing to tolerate and which are deal-breakers. Make this as straightforward as possible and set firm limits. You might write down red flags you’ve noticed in past clients and watch for them during the pre-screening process. Even if a commission is tempting, honor your own boundaries and turn down clients when necessary.
How to End a Client Relationship
If you have a difficult client, first try to mend the situation. Use the tactics listed above and ask your broker for possible solutions. If the circumstance is unresolvable, you may need to end the client relationship. Remember, time spent with an unproductive client is time that could be spent closing deals. If this is the case, follow these steps:
- Check your contract: Make sure you’re not breaching your contract when you break off the relationship.
- Plan a face-to-face meeting: To keep things professional, plan a face-to-face meeting with the client. Use clear, unemotional language.
- Explain from their point of view: Explain to your client why finding a different real estate agent will serve their needs better. Explain how ending your professional relationship will be beneficial for them. They may have a more positive reaction if you frame it from their point of view.
Build Stronger Client Relationships With Real Estate Exposures
As a real estate agent, you’ll have to know how to deal with a variety of different clients. Some might be more difficult than others. Clients might be indecisive or have unrealistic expectations. Their level of involvement might be overwhelming or too minimal. They might think they already know everything, dismissing your expert insight. In some cases, a client might even be abusive.
Before you cut ties with a challenging client, try the tactics above. These tips can make your client relationships stronger, alleviating stress and helping you close more deals. Another way to improve your client relationships is to use professional photography and virtual media. If you have professional-quality visuals on-hand, you can boost your credibility, reassure clients and sell homes faster. If you have any questions about professional home photography, contact Real Estate Exposures today.