7 Client Behaviors We All Hate!

I’ve been in the industry for a very long time, but only a broker for the last 30 +/- years.   We all develop thick skins, but there are a handful of behaviors, whether intentional or oblivious, I still find annoying.  You may have experience with similar behavior and, I hope, clients will consider the value of listening to an experienced agent and showing consideration to a professional.   Erasing the below behaviors would make my days much more pleasant and, in turn, lead to a higher level of service to each client.

  1. Initially a client looks at a listing with the listing agent or a selling side agent, but writes the contract with another agent, completely unfamiliar with the property.  This can happen in an industry as numbers increase, but paying attention to relationships makes a difference.  Personally, I think the intent of Article 16 of the
    Code of Ethics covers this for REALTORS® and I make every effort to avoid interfering in an ongoing relationship.   If an agent worked with a client months ago and there is an obvious interruption in relationship or if the client is obviously offended/unwilling to work with an agent, I feel comfortable moving forward with a relationship.  Interfering with an active interest and uninterrupted contact is something I would always avoid, but, from a broker’s view, it can be very annoying to complete all the work and showings, only to have someone else drop in to write the contract.  I’m overly aware of this, because it is a common issue and our responsibility to be sure we consider agency relationships, whether written or simply ongoing.  Think procuring cause.  

  2. A client sometimes talks to the list agent or owner, giving away the farm…. literally!  I think this is self-explanatory, but I would always hope to discuss terms, provide cost estimates and take the time to consider an offer “before” making intentions clear to the other party.
  3. Openly complimenting a property is polite, nice, considerate…. but hardly the thing you want to lead a conversation, if you plan to offer anything below the full list price.  I ask clients to think about questions, but to wait until we leave to share opinions on the property.   “I love this home!”, “This is the ONE!”, “I’m SOLD!”….is not the way to prepare a seller or list agent for negotiation.  I’m accustomed to thinking in terms of agency relationships and the limits of discussions I should have with a client or clients.   Walking back a statement can be difficult.
  4. Some Buyers love to write Low-Ball Offers in a “Seller’s Market”.   We all have aggressive clients.  I consider whether the creditworthiness and demeanor of the client is worth my time.  If someone is unrealistic, I do consider the value of my time and I’m pretty sure every good agent considers the same.  Agents have specialized knowledge and need sales to stay in business.  Most experienced agents pay attention to productive uses of time and will avoid wasting time….so it makes sense to never give an experienced agent the idea you’re wasting your time.
  5. I’m on time 99.99% of the time.  About once a year, I might run late or make a call to tell someone I’ve been detained.   Not showing up on time for appointments is far more common with clients.  I’d guess 10% to 30% of the time, a client shows up 5, 10 or even 30 minutes after the time scheduled.  The record, in the last 5 years, is 4 hours.  A client’s flight delayed, then they were lost, then needed to stop for lunch.  I understand delays, but it can be frustrating when your time is money.  One appointment can make it difficult to do anything else in the same day or half-day.   Showing consideration means a lot and I make a point of avoiding all habitually late clients.
  6. Some people have little loyalty, no matter how much you’ve been working together.  This moves back to the same theme.  Show consideration to an agent.   Loyalty, common courtesy and consideration makes a difference.
  7. Sometimes we work with a beer budget and champagne taste.   Asking to see homes in a price range a client can’t afford is not such an issue if the home is vacant and you aren’t inconveniencing anyone.  I avoid sightseeing tours and am very clear with curiosity seekers, if I’m sure.

Back in about 1988, I worked with a couple looking for a retirement home.  They gave me a price range and they were detailed in their story.  Prequalification was covered, they didn’t need to sell a home and they were visiting friends on a buying trip.  We had lunch at my expense, looked at every home in their price range.  After lunch, they took a break, only to go back to see homes for the rest of the day.  I think we spent around 8 hours together, diligently looking at everything.  I turned down another appointment to spend the second half of the day with this couple.  Several homes were on their favorite list and, based on their comments, I felt certain we were nearing an offer.   Oh….I didn’t mention the travel arrangements.  I picked them up at their friend’s home.   Anyway, the wife turned to me as we pulled into their driveway and said, “If we ever move to Florida, I’m sure Amelia Island will be on our list.  We’ve had so much fun today, you really were a pleasure!”.     I’d love to say this “lovely” couple, considering retirement, acted out of ignorance, but no one could possibly be oblivious enough to work an agent all day, in the Summer, let the agent pay for lunch and….well, basically show no consideration at all.   I began to think seriously about choosing clients carefully.  Time is valuable and picking clients can save a lot of time.

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