Real estate agents certainly stay busy. Each day is fulfilling but demanding, between staging homes for sellers, visiting open houses with buyers, and meeting with clients to determine their real estate needs.
Many real estate clients are gracious, considerate individuals looking to make the best decisions for their clients and their families. However, every real estate agent is bound to meet at least one difficult client during their lifetime. Even if you’re a real estate investor who enjoys the benefits of a real estate license, you might come across difficult people from time to time.
When you face difficult clients, it’s important that you understand how to best work with them. Use the tips below for more information on the best ways to work with and satisfy difficult clients.
Types of Difficult Clients
As a real estate agent, you’re likely to encounter many different types of clients. Here are some of the most common types of difficult clients:
- Negative clients adopt a pessimistic attitude and are sometimes prone to turn down your input or suggestions.
- Do-nothing clients are those who often expect you to discern their thoughts or expectations, despite their uncertainty or lack of feedback.
- Rant-and-rave clients dominate conversations with loud, overbearing attitudes and a demand for immediate action.
- Know-it-all clients believe they understand the local real estate market better than you do.
- People-pleasing clients say “yes” to almost anything but are slow to deliver results and answer questions honestly.
- Aggressive clients who believe their own needs should come before yours, and before the needs of any of your other clients.
Difficult client types can sometimes test your patience as a real estate agent, so it’s important to acknowledge and prepare for these potential conflicts.
1. Educate Your Clients and Set Expectations
If you’re helping a client find a home, it’s sometimes helpful to provide education on how homes are purchased and what your role as an agent is. If you’re helping a client sell a home, first consider sitting down with them and explaining the staging, offer, inspection, and closing processes. Once you educate your clients, you can help them develop more realistic expectations for project timelines, hours required, and steps to be fulfilled. They’ll grow to understand the parts of the journey you control and the parts that are entirely out of your hands.
Transparency is key, especially in real estate. Once you take the time to explain concepts to your real estate clients, they can grow to comprehend your strategies and even appreciate your efforts.
2. Stay Calm and You Will Prevail
Sometimes, a client will react in ways you cannot control. However, you can control your response to their actions. As a real estate agent, it’s important to stay calm under even the most difficult circumstances. If a transaction falls through or a client grows impatient, staying calm will demonstrate your professionalism and can even help your clients do the same.
When working with difficult clients, consider the following methods to help you stay calm:
- Take a five or 10-minute break from your work
- Practice deep breathing
- Listen to gentle music
- Exercise, even if it’s only a short jog or a walk around the neighborhood
- Visualize yourself responding appropriately to the situation
Even if you cannot physically walk away from a difficult situation, steady breathing and a short pause can help you collect your thoughts.
3. Be Patient
Real estate is an industry that requires periods of action and periods of waiting. As a result, you’ll regularly face situations as a real estate agent where you’ll need to exercise patience.
After showing a home, you’ll wait before other real estate agents call or email with their client’s offers. Even after accepting an offer on your client’s behalf, you’ll need to remain patient during the home inspection, and while the potential buyers examine the results. When a real estate transaction is closed successfully, the legal paperwork can sometimes take days, even weeks, to fully process.
When your client is waiting on a response or you’re expecting an important phone call, it can be easy to grow impatient. If you can manage to remain patient through difficult moments, you’ll have an easier time dealing with difficult clients.
Further communicating the need to be patient to clients is also helpful. For example, you can reaffirm the steps that are taking place during a particular phase of the transaction. You may have explained this in your educational introduction, but repetition is needed, especially for those who are new to buying or selling a home.
4. Active Listening
One of the best things you can do as a real estate agent, especially when dealing with difficult clients, is to listen. When you listen to your client express their needs, you’re showing them that you care about their thoughts and feelings. Even if you’re facing a difficult client, listening to their concerns helps improve the chances of their success and yours.
In other circumstances, failure to listen can result in miscommunication. You might show your client a home they aren’t interested in, or you may incorrectly convey a seller’s requests to a buyer.
If you fail to listen to your client as they communicate, you could be the cause of the issues to come. Your client may grow agitated when it becomes apparent that you’re not taking their concerns to heart. They may even decide they trust another real estate agent with their business more than you.
A good technique to practice is active listening. This is the process of relaying what you have understood either verbally or when writing a follow-up email.
5. Limit Buyer Options
Indecisive buyers can complicate the real estate process. Even a straightforward decision like choosing a home inspector can take days if your client cannot make a choice and stick with it.
Often, indecisive real estate clients are simply faced with too many options. When dealing with indecisive buyers, it’s best to limit options to an appropriate minimum. This helps to further the buying process and can offer clients the clarity that they need.
If you’re helping a client choose a home inspector or pre-inspector, offer three reputable options from which they can choose. If your client is deciding on neighborhoods or homes to tour for the day, offer suggestions that meet their price range and room number preferences.
6. Show Empathy
Real estate agents work for their clients, so it’s important that you stay mindful of their needs. Often, a client’s needs can change between the beginning and the end of the home buying process. Remember that your ultimate goal should be to connect your clients with their dream home, no matter how many tries it takes to get it right.
As a real estate agent, you’re likely to experience situations where your clients are outbid or don’t achieve the outcome they want. Even if you can’t solve your client's issues, empathizing is important. Empathy goes a long way toward showing your clients that you care and that you’re still committed to helping them reach their goals.
Empathy can be just as simple as agreeing with their experience or sharing a similar story. You can also help elevate the client by providing tips on how they uplift themselves, by simply just getting out there again or acknowledging that this was a great learning experience and that things can be done differently next time.
7. Practice Good Communication
Communication with clients can mean the difference between a closed sale and a frustrated buyer. Particularly when dealing with difficult clients, good communication can help you avoid headaches down the road.
Prioritize communication from the beginning to the end of client interactions. Before you begin the home buying process with a client, get to know them as a person. Determine what makes them excited, nervous, and even doubtful about obtaining a new home. From there, you can determine how best to communicate with clients in a way that keeps them confident and satisfied.
If you don't listen to your clients, communication breaks down. This can cause agitation, loss of trust, a possible loss of a sale, and will only make the client more difficult to interact with in the future.
Asking questions and checking in for feedback is a great way to make sure your communication strategy is A1.
8. Pre-Screen Your Clients
Some clients will not show signs of difficulty until later in their interactions. At the onset, every client can appear personable, friendly, and forgiving. It might not be until a bid is lost or a sale falls through that your clients become difficult to manage. For this reason, you may want to pre-screen clients before accepting them, based on their situational profile or their home’s characteristics.
Additionally, you may be able to conduct superior screening if you use a platform to find your own leads and access sales history, tax information, loan balances, and other home details. Some of these platforms also offer situational information like if the owner is deceased, divorced, retiring, or if they are in financial difficulty. Once you have filtered and selected a target market to develop a preliminary set of leads, you can use skip tracing to access these property owners’ telephone numbers and emails. This enables easy contact between real estate agents and owners, and can aid you in making initial contact to get to know prospective clients. From there you can conduct preliminary interviews to screen them and ensure their needs, priorities, and disposition are a good match.
To best serve difficult clients, stay up to date on real estate trends as they evolve and change. Familiarize yourself with developing tax laws, marketing trends, and popular data methods through free real estate courses that help you discover the best clients and bolster your listings. Register and pass courses for additional certifications that add to your credibility as a real estate agent.