What do you do with unreasonable clients?


I get a lot of questions on the chat widget. They tend to fall into the same dozen or so categories:

Where is a good place to buy?

How much is commission?

Which is the best brokerage to work for?


How do I fire my real estate agent?

I always answer questions as directly as possible, often directing the asker to ask their local agent or broker.

But what about when agents have a bad client? What can agents do?


Firing your clients is not easy.

I had to fire some clients. I didn’t want to. It was a last resort. They were making themselves (and me) crazy. They were doing everything wrong. I realized after one week that we were a bad fit and I told them that I could not work with them any more. I cancelled the Buyer’s Agency Agreement and bowed out as gracefully as I could.

The whole thing had been going on for months, I started working for them in January as a buyer’s agent. They are going to sell their current home as soon as they find the right one to buy.


We always think that people are just like us. We always think that people think the same way. When we see a certain logic in the way things happen, we expect others to see things the same way.

They don’t.


There is often a disconnect. The disconnect is between reality and both individuals’ versions of reality. Here’s what I mean:

The realtor has helped his clients buy and/or sell dozens of homes, maybe hundreds. The realtor knows what he’s doing and how things usually play out. The client gathers information that agrees with his goals and ignores information that does not.

The realtor works with historical information, experience and fact. The client works with emotional information, hearsay, conjecture and assumptions.

In short, the realtor understands the reality of real estate. The client wants real estate to conform with his version of reality.

A better realtor that I would have continued to nurture this client along the learning curve.


What do clients do wrong? Where can we go right?


Trust the data

When you spend time pouring over the historical data and that data tells you that no house like yours, in your neighbourhood has sold for more than $325,000, you should not insist on pricing your home at $359,000 or $379,000.


Trust the expert

Many years ago, when I was backpacking around Europe I was in France and really needed a haircut. My friend Danny did too. As backpackers on a tight budget we had heard of a hairdressing school that gave haircuts at a nominal fee.


We found the place and took two chairs.

Neither Danny nor I spoke French very well, (just enough to make fools of ourselves and get the necessities for daily life). When we sat in the barber chairs I said “I don’t speak French”, and let the student barber do her thing. Danny was much more outgoing than I was and started giving his student barber lots of direction.

It takes a student barber a long time to give a couple of shaggy backpackers haircuts but at the end I had a pretty good haircut. No complaints. Danny had lopsided pageboy cut. It looked ridiculous.

The moral. Get out of the way and let the professional do their job.


logicLogic, not emotion

Home sellers have a strong emotional connection to their homes. They have to get over that. A good question to ask is, “after seeing this historical real estate data about homes in your neighbourhood, would you pay $379,000 for your home?” If the answer is “yes” then emotion, not logic is happening.


Talking with another agent-friend

Real estate agents are not suppose to interfere with each other’s clients. But when a friend asks for free real estate advice and opinion, it is hard to say no. What agents do instead is tell their friend what they want to hear. That makes it really difficult for the agent-client relationship.


Offering too low

You should never base your offer on the listing price. Agents and their clients often get that wrong.

You should also never base your asking price on voodoo, hearsay and/or conjecture. Those are forms of using logic and/or emotion to justify a lowball offer. If you feel queazy about your offer, maybe you should rethink it.

The offer price should be based on what else similar has sold, what’s for sale and those sorts of facts.


Selling too high

Real estate isn’t really a sales game. (It is a communication business). If you price your house out of line with similar houses, everyone is going to know about it. There is no magic. Agents do not have a passel of buyers waiting for a chance to pay too much for your home. No one from Toronto, Vancouver or Calgary is going to pull up in front of your home with a trunk full of money and ask to buy your house.


Getting emotional

East to say. Hard not to do.


Trolling the house seller’s social media.  

Sure you’re looking for anything that will help you understand the seller’s motivation, but most sellers don’t have to sell, so their motivation isn’t really important.


Photo: source

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