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December 9, 2010


Fire a Client? Yes!

by mark mclean

fire a client blogLast week, one of my agents called me to say that she was preparing the paperwork to terminate a listing she had because the client was simply unreasonable. The client had given my agent a bottom line on what she was prepared to accept and while the number was a little on the “high” side, it was not unreasonable. After 40 days on the market, multiple open houses, and countless money and time put into the listing, my agent negotiated an offer that was exactly what the client had required. Take a wild guess at what happened next; the client turned it down. By the way, my agent was the third in a series of listing agents the client had hired. The property had been on and off the market for many months. So, I thought it might be time to look at when you should consider severing ties with a client whether they are buying or selling. For straight forward answers to this question, I talked to several of our top agents in the company.  In no particular order, here is their list;

  1. Unrealistic expectations.  Client wants a house within a 10 minute drive of downtown Toronto. They  want  a 2 acre lot, pool and 2 car garage for under $375,000. Or how about the client who will never be satisfied with the offer you bring them.
  2. Clients who micromanage agents. They think they know more than you and are overly demanding of your time.
  3. Personality. Instinctively you know they are going to be hard to get along with. It could be language difficulties, philosophical or cultural differences, or maybe, after a few weeks of working together you realize the client is…. a real jerk.
  4. Buyers who won’t go into bidding wars. Well, let’s face it, in a seller’s market, you are going to get into bidding wars. A seasoned pro knows how to negotiate in a multiple offer situation. A buyer who doesn’t want to compete, simply believes they will be paying too much.
  5. Seller wants you to commit fraud. Trust me, this happens more than you think. Recently one of our agents went on a listing presentation on a house that had expired. Our agent knew of serious structural issues but the seller had covered them up. When questioned, the seller simply replied that the issues had been corrected but couldn’t recall how they had been remedied. Strange.
  6. The Grandma Syndrome. The little old widow who is looking for a condo, you drive them around for weeks. You always pick them up on the same day and time, you look at a few places but for the most part you are playing chauffeur while they pick up groceries or stop at the drug store.
  7. Looky-loos. Also referred to as Real estate junkies. They are just out to satisfy their curiosity. They probably will never buy unless they win the lottery.
  8. The horizon buy. The client is planning to buy in two years but wants to start looking now.

So how can you weed out the bad clients? Start with a structured and in depth client interview. This is an absolutely critical tool that we all should be adapting. Ask pertinent information. Set expectations early. Lastly, know when to walk away. If you feel that there is a glimmer of hope but something might happen, don’t be afraid to refer the client to someone else in your office. You could potentially pick up a small referral without doing any work.


mark mclean

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dec 9 2010

    How about…red flags are everywhere when you meet them. Against your better judgement, you agree to work with them. They proceed to yell/scream/curse at you, then fire you…only to apologize and re-hire you…then abuse some you more, try to fire and re-hire you again…and so on, and so on and so on….

  2. Dec 9 2010

    Always google a client before you agree to work with them. A quick internet search may reveal your new ‘client’ is a con man and is wanted all over the city for fraud. Sounds far-fetched, but it’s happened twice to me.

    • Dec 9 2010

      Tis true. I once had a guy contact me via snail mail. I knew right away he was a kook. He called himself King Larry, The People’s King. I may frame his letter someday.


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