How To Take You And Your Client Off The Hook

 February 11, 2015

Sometimes real estate gets downright awkward.

You know what I mean:

  • You knock and ring the bell and convince yourself and your client the house is empty, unlock the door and step in only to find the owner standing there in her bathrobe or worse.
  • Your sure your client agreed to a meeting at a coffee shop at 9 AM. You’re there on time and she’s a no-show – that is until your cell phone rings and you discover you’re at the wrong coffee shop.
  • You’re showing the house with the seller is the buyer blurts loudly, “This house isn’t worth half that much!”
  • It’s obvious the wife loves the house. Your startled when the husband tells her it’s not right and she burst into tears.
  • You’ve shown your new client three homes and they really like like the last one. You ask a closing question and instead of answering the husband explains he’s licensed in another state and he wants a discount on your commission.
  • You suddenly realize you’re hearing the sound of the husband using the front bathroom.
  • You know the house is empty and when you open the front door with the lockbox key the alarm sounds loudly. The listing agent forgot to include alarm instructions in the listing.

These and a gillion other embarrassing and awkward stories can be found any time to real estate agents get together. They’re horrid when they happen and funny once you get past them.

You and your clients are only human

You know what in theory, you and your clients are human beings, and as such behave like human beings. Each of the scenarios above, and many more like them, are proof of our humanness.

When something weird and awkward happens, and it will, try not to panic. Take a deep breath and give yourself a moment to decide how to respond.

An apology may be needed

In fact when something awkward happens an apology is almost always needed. Obviously you want your apology to be heartfelt and to the point. You don’t want to go into long explanations.

In the first instance apologize for barging in, even though you didn’t, and offering to come back in 30 minutes or so is probably the right approach. You need to help your clients not being too embarrassed as well.

Missed signals for appointments are fairly common and not just in real estate. It doesn’t matter who was wrong, what matters is graciously figuring out where you really should meet and when.

When more than apologies called for

It’s more difficult to figure out what to say to the listing client if a potential buyer says something rude about the house. Obviously you need to decide if you want to work with aspire and if you do he’s going to need some education about the market in the area, and maybe even some cautions about speaking out to soon.

You’ll also have to call the listing client and reassure them that you think their price is fair and reasonable, assuming that’s true. If by some chance the prices way high, maybe after an apology, you can use the incident to help them understand they need to lower their price.

Bickering couples and crying wives are anything but ideal clients. My approach would be to suggest they you reschedule the showing, and that you get together before then and have a discussion about what they’re really looking for. In other words  I’d try to bring calm to the situation, setting a new meeting to give them time to do whatever they need to do without me.

The out-of-state agent is out of line. You’re under no obligation to share your commission with them, and they should’ve brought it up right at the beginning. You’ll have to decide on the fly if you’re willing to work with them or not. You can always buy yourself at least an hour and often 24 by saying you have to discuss it first with your broker.

If someone uses the bathroom it’s probably not the end of the world. Make sure it’s flushed before you leave, and if you know the waters turned off in a home spell it out for that client before you get there.

When an alarm goes off unexpectedly and you don’t have the code to silence it, it’s best to get out of the house onto the sidewalk. If the alarm happens to be hooked up with a security service or the local police department you don’t want to be inside when they arrive. Besides you’ll want to get away from the noise and you should. Standing on the sidewalk you can and try to contact the listing agent or the seller. If you can’t leave a message and if they don’t, in a reasonable amount of time leave a note explaining what happened.

Keep your sense of humor

By all means be willing to laugh at yourself when these things happen. There’s no need for you to be upset even if your clients are. One of the lines I like to use in a lot of awkward situations is something like “if this is the worst that ever happens to us, we’re in good shape.” Somehow that seems to defuse all sorts of things.

Tell us in comments and awkward thing that has happened to you while showing real estate.

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Anne Wayman

By Anne Wayman

Before Anne Wayman became a writer she sold real estate in Southern California. She worked with her father who learned the business from his father. Not surprisingly she learned a few things along the way. Since then, she has been freelance writing for over 30 years – she is a grandmother, loves cats and writes about a wide variety of topics including real estate.