I recently read an interesting blog, posted by an agent who was being asked by prospective clients to list their two homes. Their plan: to keep whichever did not sell first, un-list it, and live in it for the foreseeable future. The twist: one is a luxury home, the other significantly more modest. Furthermore, they expressed a general distrust for real estate agents, which is why they opted to try to sell “For Sale by Owner” initially. Though they sought this agent’s advice as to how best to proceed, their reaction when it was given was to take offense. The agent posted her experience in an effort to get some peer feedback as to what to do next. She closed by saying she thought these would be difficult clients to satisfy.
We all approach our client relationships differently. Some would advise her to continue providing counsel, earn their trust, take on the two listings and benefit from the market exposure. Make it a game. Embrace the challenge of winning them over. Others will say to follow instinct; that if your gut is telling you a bumpy road lies ahead, trust intuition and say “no”. I subscribe to the latter. Through the years, anytime I’ve had the sense an interaction with a particular client was going to be difficult, I’ve been right. Perhaps, in reality, my “Spidey Sense” is only a self-fulfilling prophecy; a product of my attitude yielding a predictable negative result. I think not. I believe that, if a particular business relationship doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Furthermore, the time spent managing expectations of difficult clients may be better spent engaging in activities necessary to secure those who are not.
Regardless one’s philosophy, there is a fundamental rule necessary in dealing with any client, the “QTIP” principle. Quit taking it personally! We cannot always control the tone of a transaction or quality of its elements. What we can do is control how we choose to contend with the matter. Years ago, when I first got into the business and had embarked on an ill-advised business partnership with a fellow agent, we had a contentious transaction made more difficult by our buyers’ lender appraisal which came in low. The agent representing the seller accused us of all sorts of misdeed, assuming we were trying to finagle a discounted sales price on our clients’ behalves. I recall the affront I felt of being wrongly accused; how that agent’s assault cut so close to the bone.
Today, I’m working on a contract for which the appraisal has come in low again, only the second time in my career. The tone this time, however, is entirely different. Seasoned by years of wrangling deals, I’ve learned to set a high bar with all parties regardless their demeanor. Doing so ensures continued professionalism, especially in the face of unanticipated road blocks. Furthermore, because I leave room in my business for only those clients with whom I really wish to work, the general tenor of my dealings remains upbeat.
I say concentrate on working with clients who serve to increase your chances of success. Leave the difficult, high maintenance ones to others who embrace that kind of challenge. If you can’t avoid them, then follow the QTIP principle and stay sane.