Some say you should never turn down real estate clients, but I disagree. The wrong clients can do you harm.
The wrong clients can eat up your time, preventing you from working with clients who are right for you. They can also cause you mental and emotional stress, which further impedes your productivity.
Before we get to the right reasons to turn down real estate clients, let’s begin with the wrong reasons.
You obviously know about the Fair Housing and ADA rules – and know you should never turn anyone away for reasons that fall under those rules.
What about financial reasons?
Those are valid. If a person wants to buy a house but has no money, no credit, and no job, you have to turn them away because you can’t help them. You CAN point them toward counselors who can help them work through those obstacles, and you probably should. If you were helpful when they couldn’t buy, they may come back to you when they can.
But don’t make assumptions…
Some people with money don’t advertise the fact.
For example: We have a friend in California who owns a sizeable vineyard. One day he was working outside when he decided he wanted a new truck, so he stopped work and drove to town to buy a truck. He was wearing an old t-shirt, shorts, and muck boots.
At the first dealership, the sales people barely spoke to him. He drove on to the next dealership, where he found someone who was glad to help him. They had what he wanted, so he wrote a check for the full amount.
Another agent told the tale of a man who came in shabbily dressed and asked if she would help, as he’d been brushed off by 3 other agents that day. He not only bought a house from her; he sent her several other clients and became a repeat buyer a few years later.
Sometimes you should turn down real estate clients while they’re still just prospects.
Which prospects should you turn down?
- Prospects who want to buy or sell a type of real estate that is clearly outside of your area of expertise
- Prospects who want to buy or sell far from your home base
- People whose needs are not a good fit for you
- People whose personalities clash with yours
- People who are personally offensive to you
- People who are rude, abrasive, or vocally bigoted
- People who want you to violate the Fair Housing or ADA regulations
- People who expect you to do anything you feel is ethically, morally, or legally wrong.
- People with unreasonable expectations
Turn down real estate clients who want to buy or sell a type of real estate that is clearly outside of your area of expertise:
It’s far better to refer your prospective client to a specialist if you can’t give them professional representation. For instance, when:
- You’re a residential specialist and your customer wants to buy or sell industrial or commercial property.
- You specialize in condos and your prospect wants you to help with farm and ranch land.
- You specialize in assisting first time buyers and a prospect wants you to handle a short sale.
You’ll earn a referral fee and your prospect will get the expert help and guidance they need. Meanwhile, you’ll gain their respect for knowing when to step away.
Say no to prospects who want to buy or sell too far from your home base…
Taking on a listing or showing properties far from home is generally a poor idea. You don’t know the territory, so don’t know pricing or even where to stop for lunch. You also don’t already know any of the community details such as taxation, cost of services, etc, so will spend extra time researching.
In addition, you’ll spend hours on the road and dollars on fuel. Take time to locate an excellent agent in the community that interests your prospect. Then collect that referral fee.
Turn down potential clients whose needs are not a good fit for you
Some real estate clients require more time and/or more hand-holding than others. If providing that time and hand-holding doesn’t fit with your personality, refer those clients to someone with more patience.
For instance, some elderly people who live alone like to talk a lot. They might enjoy telling you stories about the early days in their home, or telling you about their grand-kids. If you enjoy that, work with Senior Relocation. If you don’t, refer them to someone who does.
First time buyers might also require more time and more education. If you don’t enjoy providing that, refer them to a first time buyer specialist.
My own story about a client who talked too much:
One of my favorite long-time clients and business partners was a man who talked too much. He started coming in to our office to talk about a wreck of a house that he was about to repossess, and he became my client by default.
Any time someone looked out the window and saw him coming, they’d say “Oh oh, Bill is on his way in.” Then whoever else was there would disappear out the back door. He did talk too much – sometimes for hours. But he became a friend to me and to my family, and we missed him greatly when he passed away. My husband renovated that wreck of a house, then I sold it. Then we became partners in a few other houses that needed renovation. Any time he had to repossess a property, I was his listing agent.
Say no to prospects whose personalities clash with yours
It happens. Sometimes you meet someone and just don’t like them – or you can feel that they don’t like you. You’ll have a hard time pleasing them and you’ll dread spending time with them – so just don’t do it.
Remember that your time and your emotional well-being are important. Protect both.
Turn down real estate clients who are rude, abrasive, or vocally bigoted
You don’t need the aggravation, so don’t even begin the relationship. If they’re rude at first meeting, they’ll only get worse as time goes on. Just say no.
Run away from people who are personally offensive to you
If your first conversations tell you that this is a person you will not want to associate with, don’t do it.
I’m thinking of a client I once had that I could barely stand to look at after he told me about his “hobby.” He enjoyed shooting dogs. Had I known that before I took him on as a client, he wouldn’t have been a client.
Turn down real estate clients who want you to violate the Fair Housing or ADA regulations and People who expect you to do something you feel is ethically, morally, or legally wrong.
Some will tell you up front, so you can just say no and walk away. Others will bring it up later. At that point you can either educate them and gain their cooperation or fire them.
Turn down people with unreasonable expectations
I should have had this post to read years ago – before I took a listing that was 30 miles from the office, belonging to sellers who insisted that I had to accompany every showing.
The thirty miles weren’t unusual – that’s how it is when you sell in a rural community. But accompanying every showing that far from the office was a true burden.
What else is unreasonable?
- Insisting that you advertise somewhere that’s expensive and proven not to work.
- Insisting that you hold an open house every weekend, even though open houses are not well-received in your community.
- Expecting you to answer calls at 11 p.m. or 5 a.m.
- Expecting you to kennel their dog before every showing.
- Expecting you to provide baby-sitting services during showings.
- Expecting you to show them 15 homes when they refuse to get pre-approved for a loan.
- Expecting you to drop everything and talk with them for an hour or two any time they call.
- Insisting that you list their home for 20% over fair market value.
Remember that it is always unreasonable for a seller to expect you to find a buyer without a signed listing agreement. You do not want to spend what could be weeks or months of your time searching for a buyer, only to have the seller reward you with nothing more than “Thanks” at closing. (And yes, I’ve seen it happen.)
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
“When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself.”
“Saying no can be the ultimate self-care.”
Sometimes it is in your best interests to fire clients, even after you’ve spent time and money on them.
When it becomes clear that you are not likely to ever sit at a closing table with people, it’s time to cut your losses and let them go.
It could be buyers who find something wrong with every house in the MLS. It could be buyers who refuse to get pre-approved. It could be people who are really just using you as a tour guide – and have no intention of buying. It could be buyers who were pre-approved for a mortgage loan, but then went out and bought a new car or quit their jobs. It could be buyers who make a lot of offers – all so far below market value that there’s no chance they’ll ever see an accepted offer.
It could be sellers who won’t keep the house in showing condition – or reduce the price to make up for it. It could be sellers who refuse to negotiate when you bring offers. It could be sellers who ask you to cut corners or discriminate after the listing is signed. It could be sellers who insist on attending every showing – where they systematically chase buyers away.
Even if you think you might someday get to closing, fire those clients who become abusive.
Some people are on their best behavior at first, then revert to their true behavior later. You should never put up with clients who are rude and abusive or who treat you with disrespect.
Remember that you are the person with professional expertise. You’re providing a professional service. Unless you behave unprofessionally, you deserve to be treated with respect.
What if you have a very good reason for turning down a real estate client who might later claim discrimination?
If you’re turning down someone whose situation places them in a protected class, be sure to document your reason.
Keep notes on all of your conversations, keep copies of all emails or text messages, and tell your broker why you’ve chosen not to work with them.
Bag of money & danger gauge images courtesy of stuart miles @ freedigitalphotos.net
Highway Image courtesy of missisya at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
shouting man Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net