How to “Break Up” With a Difficult Client

real estate broker dealing with difficult clients

As a real estate broker, you spend a great deal of time soliciting to build your roster. The goal is generally to garner clients that will give you repeat business—and good word of mouth. As such, the thought of ending a client relationship may seem unfathomable. However, success—for both you and your clients—depends on a solid working relationship. Sometimes breaking up with difficult real estate clients is the best thing you can do for both parties.

Reasons to end a client relationship

There are a number of reasons why you would need to end a client relationship. The most common types of difficult real estate clients include individuals who are rude, dismissive, abusive or downright disrespectful. They aren’t considerate of your time or efforts and express that every chance they get.

Time wasters are another type of difficult real estate client you may encounter. These people are just testing the waters—effectively expecting you to do a lot of busywork with no intention of making a move anytime soon. Then, there are those with unrealistic expectations. Part of a broker’s job is to manage expectations, but only if the client is willing to accept the information. Difficult real estate clients are often unable or unwilling to understand and accept the realities of the market.

“It’s so important for sellers to understand that there are only three things in real estate you can control, and those things are marketing, property condition and price,” said Travis Gray, Associate Broker of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Annapolis, Maryland. “For that reason, if a broker finds themselves working with a seller who is unrealistic about the property’s condition or market value, it might be better in the long run for the agent to break ties with them.”

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Advice for breaking up with difficult real estate clients

Once you’ve surmised that you’ve got difficult real estate clients with whom you are not going to have success, the next step is to end the relationship. But how can you do so without burning bridges? In most instances, it’s best to be honest, concise and firm. Any conversations that you have verbally should be documented in writing as well, as a point of reference for both of you. The client has the right to know why you have opted out of continuing to work together. Ending the relationship not only gives them an opportunity to find an agent with whom they might be a better fit, but it also helps them recognize any bad behaviors that may hinder them from success with the next person.

“Ending a relationship that only one side is ready to end, or at least one in which only one side thinks they are ready to end, is hard whether with a significant other or a client,” said Broward County, Florida REALTOR® Reed Kellough. “Real estate is a long-term business where your word and reputation are vital in obtaining and maintaining success. Time is precious in this industry and not being able to differentiate between the qualified clients and those just testing the market can be the difference in making a $36,000 average income or breaking the six-figure mark.”

In the end, everyone wins

Ultimately, breaking up with difficult real estate clients can be a challenge. However, when handled efficiently, everyone wins. After the breakup, your clients are free to find another real estate agent who has a working style more like their own. You are able to keep your reputation intact and focus on those individuals with whom you’ve established a positive working relationship. Plus, you have more time to devote to advancing your real estate career.