5 Ways to Work With Toxic Buyer & Seller Clients

5 Ways to Work With Toxic Buyers and Sellers

We’ve all been there. A client comes prepared with a Pinterest board of what they want and insists you make their dream come true; even though their budget is 1/5 of what their dream home should be. Or it is a client that still views their house as their home and cannot see it from an outside point of view? They don’t want to remove a swing set or take down a political photo.

If you’re stuck in a similar situation and you are not able to get out of your contract, don’t sweat. We’ve all been there!

Here are 5 ways you can help to turn a toxic buyer or seller into a good relationship so that you can help them with their property and keep your sanity intact!

  1. Unrealistic Sellers (Who Think Their House is Worth More Than it Is)

    If your buyer is listening to their neighbor’s cousin who has a friend in real estate, and that person has never been to your actual neighborhood or has only seen it in a Google Map, then you’re in a tricky situation!

    No matter what designation you have, from Real Estate Agent and Realtor to top seller of the year at your brokerage, it can be tricky to get the actual value of your client’s home to resonate with them.

    Our tip here is to listen to what they are saying (even if they are wrong) and let them finish.  Maybe they just want to share their stories in their old home one more time.  You may also learn a couple of selling points that could resonate with potential buyers and close the deal at a higher price!

    Now have the following prepared to help bring your client back to reality:

    • A line graph showing the average house sale by month and by property size over the last 5 years.
    • Print outs (or if you’re eco-friendly a slide show on a tablet) that display the last 15 sales with similar property sizes directly in the neighborhood.  Each slide should be dedicated to the specific property and highlight the features that your client keeps mentioning.
    • A slide with sources that list each of the seller’s talking points and if these talking points do in fact increase or decrease the home’s value.
    • A wrap up slide listing each of the features which are important to the seller, as well as the comp’s from recent sales and a brief statement as to why you are recommending your sales price based on this data.

    This type of presentation might not be received well at first, but if the client takes the time to read it on their own schedule it will hopefully help make them more agreeable.

  2. The Buyer Who Demands Luxury at a Budget Price

    A similar presentation to the seller could be helpful here.  On this slide show we recommend making a few changes.

    • Show side-by-side prices for a house in their neighborhood with and without the feature.
      • i.e. a house with a pool went for $150K last month and the house without went for $100K.  A pool can cost you an additional 50K.
    • Now create a matrix or plot graph that shows the price differences based on features.
      • The dots on the chart should be labeled with the feature or feature combination (pool + game room) and show the price increase.
      • The bottom side can be the total actual sales costs.
      • The left side can be the budget needed to buy a home.
  3. Unrealistic Work & Research Expectations

    As a Real Estate Agent you are likely always going above and beyond for your clients and working around the clock.  But that is not going to be good enough for some clients.

    Whether your client wants you to look up zoning maps and price title companies to find a good deal, they might still have not made a decision and all this work would be for nothing.

    Instead of doing everything knowing it is a waste of time, outline a scope of work that lists the steps and when each step happens during the process.

    Now make sure your client has a copy of it, agrees to follow the order of operations, and remember to reference the document when your client tries to move outside of the workflow.

    This way when your client demands you look at zoning laws you can say “Once you have narrowed your choice to two properties we will do this.  Which are our final two?”.

    By doing this you save yourself a ton of time and can take back part of your personal life.

  4. Never Prepared & Gives Vague Answers

    Trying to help a client that only gives vague answers can be one of the most stressful situations.

    The client doesn’t do anything to stress you or make your life difficult, but in order for you to do your job you need them to give more than yes or no answer.

    Your best bet with these clients is to ask more specific questions and use visuals when needed.

    Instead of asking what they’re looking for in a property, create a series of questions with visual examples.  Have the client pick only one or two choices from each question.  Now you have the specifics of their style and taste rather than hoping they’ll share these details with you.

    • Which of these houses can you see yourself living in?
    • Out of these three master bedrooms, which one do you see yourself sleeping comfortably in?
    • Here are a few backyards, which one can you see yourself enjoying?
      • Include features like a swing set, a pool, a patio or plain grass.
    • Which of these houses speaks to you?
      • Show one with a porch, one with trees in front, and one with a plain front and no large front yard.
  5. When You Are Always at Fault

    One of the more frustrating types of toxic clients are the ones that blame you no matter what the situation is.

    Maybe a deal fell through because they did not pick up the phone or respond, or they got outbid and lost the home because they would not go higher. You did your job but to them it was your responsibility to make the deal happen.

    You could try bringing in emails and showing text messages with dates, but these clients never want to listen. It may also cause them to erupt into yelling or potentially worse. You could try changing your language and instead of saying “You did X, Y and Z” and say “We tried X, Y and Z”, but even that may not help with this type of client.

    When facts no longer matter your best bet is to walk away.  There is nothing you can do when the problem is psychological, and if the stress is too great then it isn’t worth your sanity.

Toxic clients can be one of the worst things for real estate agents. Toxic clients are sometimes inevitable, but there are almost always ways you can work with them.  For the few situations where there will be no solution, have an escape clause in your contract so you can move on.

If you have any tips you’d like to share for how to turn toxic clients into incredibly work experiences, share them below.


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