The 8 Most Challenging Types of Real Estate Clients

Even if the ink on your real estate license is barely dry, you’ve probably experienced a challenging real estate client. If not, you will soon enough. Learn how to recognize these clients and, more importantly, how to handle them.

The most common types

Here are eight types of difficult real estate clients that you might encounter:

  • The historian. This client knows the real estate history of every home on the block — how long it was on the market and what it sold for, along with all of its faults. After a while, the constant “But three years ago my neighbor sold his house in a week!” references get tiresome.
  • The know-it-all. This client knows more about real estate than you ever will, and they aren’t afraid to let you and everyone around you know it. That license you have? Pfffffft, it means nothing. Fifteen years of selling real estate? So what? It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been selling real estate or what kind of team you surround yourself with. This client knows everything there is to know about real estate and they won’t let you forget it.
  • The over-analyzer. This client questions everything you do, say or even think. They want daily updates on showings, number of online views, and your marketing plan for the property. They call you six minutes after a showing wanting to hear the feedback. They overthink everything, from the placement of a sign rider to the font you use on your flyers.
  • The reality TV junkie. If a client starts a sentence with something like this, “But the agent on HGTV said…” then you’re probably dealing with a reality TV junkie. This client is similar to the know-it-all client, only worse. Their knowledge of real estate is gleaned from watching hours of HGTV. After only two episodes of “Income Property,” your client insists they can purchase a home with little down, then flip it and make a killing. Do you sell higher end homes? Is your client is a fan of “Million Dollar Listing”? Good luck with that.
  • The non-listener. You’re two weeks from closing. The appraisal is in and looks good. Inspection is over, repairs are negotiated and being completed. Title says everything looks good. This closing is in the bag. Then your client pulls up in a brand new shiny car. They exclaim, “Isn’t she a beauty? We got a ridiculous financing deal on this baby!” Don’t they remember the repeated conversations you had with them about not entering into any financial transactions prior to their mortgage being processed? Vaguely. “So buying this new car could screw up getting the house?” they ask.
  • The low baller. This is the client who says, “I know it’s listed for $350,000, but let’s offer $225,000!” Yeah, good luck with that.
  • The social animal. You arrive at the showing knowing that “this is the one!” You turn on all the lights, sweep some dead bugs out of the kitchen, and even pull a couple of weeds in the lawn. Then you see what appears to be a presidential motorcade coming down the street. Car after car turns the corner, only to stop in front of the home you’re showing. “I brought my parents, siblings, some friends and a couple of cousins to the showing. Hope that’s cool.” Mom, naturally, hates the place. Dad just grumbles about how overpriced the home is. The third cousin’s children are running wild throughout the house.
  • The delusional. Ninety seconds into the listing presentation you hear, “We have the nicest home on the block.” Run away.

How to handle them

So, how do you deal with these challenging clients? You have three options:

  1. Make the best of it.
  2. Talk it through.
  3. Fire the client.

The first option might be the simplest solution, but it’s also the most unhealthy. Selling real estate is a stressful job; you don’t need the additional baggage that comes with dealing with a difficult client. If closing is days away and you’ve tolerated the client so far, riding it out may be worth it. If you are early in the process though, consider talking it through.

Believe it or not, your client might not realize they are driving you mad. Ignoring the problem just contributes to it. Make an appointment in a neutral setting (a coffee shop works well) and be open and honest with your client. It won’t be an easy conversation, but laying out the ground rules and expectations for both sides can go a long way toward alleviating issues.

What if you’ve done everything you can to ensure a peaceful coexistence all to no avail? Firing a client is never fun, but sometimes you just don’t have a choice. It’s usually better for both you and the client to part ways at this point. Do it professionally, offer options, and make sure the client knows it’s not personal. Sometimes people just aren’t a good fit for each other.

Note: Consult with your broker before firing a client. The broker is liable for your actions and should always be informed before a situation gets to the point of terminating an agreement. There could be legal issues you aren’t aware of that impact how and when you can let a client go. Get your broker involved before it gets to that point. They probably have advice for how to deal with this type of situation. Take advantage of that advice; it’s part of why you pay them.

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