Firing a client

Clients are great – most of the time. You know what we’re talking about. The homeowner who knows so much about real estate it’s a wonder they hired you… and they’re stuck on a price the market won’t pay. What happens? The house sits, loses traction, and after the stigma of multiple price reductions ends up selling a house for even less than it could have in the first place. 

So what do you do? If they simply won’t budge, you can do one of two things. You can list the house where they want it (to save the deal), or fire them.We decided to make a video on this subject because we’ve seen so many real estate agents go through it, and have picked up some wisdom along the way.

Because Discover agents tend to be at the top of the industry, we’ve learned from them how to best handle the situation: walk away. Agents who agree to the unrealistic demands of an irrational homeowner actually end up suffering more in the long run than if they had just let go. Yeah, in a few months they will probably get a commission when the home eventually sells, but it comes at a very steep price.

More experienced agents have learned this by having gone through it in their earlier, hungrier days. If you play the tape out, it goes something like this: You price the home 20% above market to please the client, knowing in the back of your head it isn’t going to sell and bracing yourself for a waiting game. You reassure yourself that the client will soon come to their senses. In the meantime, agents in the area aren’t showing the overpriced home to their clients. It’s making other correctly priced homes look like bargains, and those agents secretly appreciate the leg up. Time passes.

Finally, your client agrees to a price reduction to get it in line with the market. Now agents start wondering why such a nice looking, well-priced home has been sitting on the market for two months with low levels of activity and a price reduction. They ask if an inspection turned up something like asbestos or mold. Before long, your perfectly good listing is perceived as a rotten tomato.

Now what? Another price reduction. As your listing approaches expiration you finally get an offer below the already below-market asking price and your seller takes it out of desperation. After spinning wheels for months – eating away at your valuable time – you get your commission. And you also get your reputation knocked down a few notches. Your seller blames you for the low price and long time on the market, other agents in the community wonder if you’re trying to play games with the next home you list, too. Not. Worth. It.

By firing a client who won’t listen to reason, you are setting the tone for how you run your shop. Yes, you’ll lose the listing. And unlike in this video, you should not expect them to come crawling back (although, they might). But what you gain is the respect of the real estate community and what you protect is your track record. It is uncomfortable and hurts, but from what we’ve seen it really is the right thing to do.

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