Real estate is a people business, and while there are plenty of rewards to working closely with clients, there are also some headaches. Once in a while, every real estate professional has to deal with a client who’s overly demanding, unrealistic, or just plain rude. Nevertheless, it’s only by working with difficult clients that agents truly earn the title of “professional.” Here are a few tips to help make the process easier.
Prescreen Your Clients
The best way to deal with difficult clients is not to take them on in the first place. By conducting a pre-screening meeting with every potential client, you can get a sense of what they’ll be like to work with and determine whether you’re the right agent for them. Think of the prescreening meeting as a job interview, with the potential client as your candidate. Are they on time for your meeting? Are they presentable? Are they courteous? These may seem like small details, but they’re often great predictors of how a client will behave once you’re working together.
Aside from general chemistry, the prescreening meeting also shows you what your client’s needs are, and gives you the opportunity to explain what you need in return to do your job effectively. This is important so that both parties go into the agreement without any misconceptions or misunderstandings.
Many difficult clients demand too much of their agents because they don’t understand the industry. As the expert, you can address this problem by taking your client through the real estate process and describing the current market in simple terms. Don’t be defensive or condescending. Instead, explain in a friendly and direct way. This will not only dispel your client’s unrealistic expectations, it will also provide proof of your knowledge and authority, leading to more trust.
Some difficult clients have unreasonable desires, others have the opposite problem: they don’t know what they want, or how to articulate it. For instance, “a lot of space” could refer to an open floorplan rather than a lot of square footage. By listening carefully, you help clients better understand their own needs. It’s also important to remember that buying or selling a home can be a very emotional process, whether it’s due to financial struggles, a divorce, or a death in the family. By giving your client an ear to vent their frustrations, you show that their concerns and reservations are being taken into account.
When all else fails, you need to remind clients why they hired you in the first place–namely, because you are a professional. By standing calmly but firmly behind your methods and decisions, you remind clients that you have the skills and experience they need, as well as a track record of proven success. If, after all of this, you still aren’t getting the trust and respect you deserve, you need to be willing to tell a difficult client to find another agent.
Unfortunately, difficult clients are a fact of life for real estate agents. Nevertheless, following these four guidelines will help you minimize bad experiences, improve your client relationships, and close more deals.
Have more tips for dealing with nightmare clients? Share your experiences in the comments!