Happy Halloween! In recognition of the season, it’s time to discuss spooky clients. They come in many varieties, as you shall see…
Vampires are common Spooky Clients
Vampires come out at night, and they expect you to come out with them.
These spooky clients are the buyers and sellers who could only meet with you or view homes in the evening. You understood that – some people have 9 to 5 jobs.
But now… they expect you to take calls every evening up until far past your bedtime. Sometimes they email or text you at 2 a.m. Then they get upset when you don’t reply until business hours in the morning. Don’t you CARE about them??
Once you’ve responded outside of what you have set as your working hours, you’ve opened the door to being sucked dry. If you try to call a halt, these spooky clients will complain that they just need a few minutes of your time – surely you can spare that. If you let guilt override self-preservation, you’ll soon be a worn-out shell of your former self.
Note* You really do need to set working hours and try to stay within them. There are times when you have to bend – like when you’re in the middle of hot and heavy negotiations – but don’t turn yourself into a door mat.
The Demon Clients
Demon clients are hell-bent on making you miserable. Just when you think you’ve figured out how to please these spooky clients, they change their minds.
They’re the buyers who MUST find a home in a specific neighborhood. Once you’ve done your research and lined up homes to see, they switch to another neighborhood. Or instead of 3 bedrooms, now they need 4. They might also be the ones who consistently write offers so low that you’re embarrassed to send them to the listing agents. They don’t ever buy a house – but they sure do waste your time.
Demons could also be sellers. They’re the ones who refuse to leave for showings and effectively chase buyers out of the house. They’re the ones who were too rushed in the morning to clean up last night’s dishes, empty the cat’s litter box, or make the beds. They’re also the ones who insist on listing too high and refuse to negotiate when sensible offers come in.
The Ghost Client
This is the client who simply disappears – sometimes for a week or two, and sometimes permanently.
It could be a buyer client who made an appointment to tour homes and simply doesn’t show. You try calling, texting, and emailing, and … nothing. Sometimes they come back days or weeks later, act like nothing is wrong, and expect you to pick up right where you left off.
Meanwhile, you’ve had the pleasure of letting agents and their clients know that no, you aren’t just late for the showings, you aren’t going to get there at all.
It could be a seller or a potential seller who stops responding to your efforts to reach them. They may have your listing contract in hand and fail to return it. They may have already signed the listing, but refuse to respond to showing requests, fail to complete property disclosures, or ignore your requests for other information.
Some spooky ghost clients never return…
I once did a courtesy showing on a river lot for another agent in our office. It was my listing and I knew the boundaries while she didn’t – so I agreed to take her buyers out. They loved it and thought the price was right. They said they were due at someone’s home for dinner, so couldn’t come back to the office right then, but they’d be in the next day to write the offer.
We never heard from them again. When I asked the other agent if she’d tried to contact them, she said “No, I didn’t get their names or phone number.” Sheesh! (Is there some kind of spook who steals brains?)
The Zombie Client
Zombies never die, and while you don’t wish these spooky clients to expire, it would be nice if they’d learn to be a little more self sufficient. Zombies are the clients who keep demanding a bit more of your attention long after the sale has closed. You do want to stay in touch with them, and you did offer to put them in touch with people they might need as they move into their new home, but…
Two years later they’re still calling, expecting you to drop everything to assist them. If you try to say you’re too busy, they’ll put you on a guilt trip.
Worse, if you say no, you’ll be sure that they’ll never refer anyone to you or use you when they’re ready to sell.
The Mummy Clients
These spooky clients will wrap you up, not in bandages, but in people. Soon they’ll have you wondering why on earth you took them on as clients.
If the Mummy is a buyer, parents, step-parents, siblings, children, and even friends will come along on showings – and have an opinion to voice.
He – or she, or they – will need approval from everyone before making an offer. Then all of those people will have opinions on how that offer should be written. Once you get that sorted out to everyone’s satisfaction, the Mummy just might decide that an attorney needs to review the offer.
If the Mummy is a seller, all of those people will be consulted about the listing price. They’ll also offer opinions about staging the house, which fix-up projects really need to be done, and whether it’s safe for the seller to vacate the house while it’s being shown.
He or she might also decide to have an attorney review the listing agreement before they can sign.
So, what do you do with a spooky real estate client?
In a perfect world, you recognize them at first glance and run fast in another direction.
But if you’re an eternal optimist, you might miss the early signs. It won’t be until you’ve invested some time and even money that you’ll start noticing the red flags. Don’t ignore them!
If you aren’t already obligated, back away quickly. Things will NOT get better once you’ve signed a listing or a buyer agency agreement. In fact, they’ll get worse – sometimes much worse.
If you already have signed an agreement with them, realize that there is no shame in firing a client. Any time someone is draining your energy and making you dread getting up in the morning, it’s time to say goodbye.
Spookiness is just one reason to turn down (or fire) real estate clients. For more good reasons, click here.
And, if you’re tempted to keep hanging in there even while your spooky clients are haunting you, read this post about Sunk Cost Fallacy.
Vampire Image courtesy of solargaria at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Mummy Image courtesy of solargaria at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Dave Lewis says
I enjoyed reading your Happy Halloween email. You put it all in a fun and interesting way. Keep’em coming.
Happy Halloween to you, too.
Thank you Dave Lewis.
Zippy Larson says
Marte, I’ve head the phrase “FIRE a client,” but never heard the words you use to do so.
Also, do you fire them in person, on the phone, via email — which one really works best?
What do they say after you fire them?
How do you handle their reply?
Have you ever heard back with an apology from one you fired?
Have you ever heard from another client who said to you: “I heard you fired so and so. Why did you do that?
Has anyone ever threatened you after you fired them?
DIo you explain why, or just vamoose?
I Don’t think I’ve read a blog on HOW to FIRE a CLIENT
Marte Cliff says
Thanks for your good comment. I let my license go so many years ago that I’m having a hard time remembering those times.
It didn’t happen often, because I was one of those chickens that I urge agents NOT to be. I thought I had to keep going, even when it made me a wreck and I ended up earning about $3 an hour.
There were times when I declined to take a listing, and I did so in person. I would say that I was sorry, I was just not the right person for whatever reason.
There were quite a few that I just crossed off my list. One was a “very important” attorney from California. He was so rude to me at the closing of his river lot that I went to my office and removed him from my database – even knowing that he had several other, more expensive, properties to sell.
There were a few buyers who made appointments and didn’t show – no excuse other than “I got busy.” For them I was just too busy myself the next time they wanted to see a house.
To better answer you – and perhaps create a blog on how to fire a client, I think I’ll create a new questionnaire – with all of your questions.
Thanks for the wonderful idea!
Michelle Carr Crowe says
Thanks Marte, I have had to fire clients-and this was a good humorous reminder of reasons why!