How to Handle Toxic Clients as a Real Estate Professional
By Maggie Wilson @ Real Estate Daily
October 26, 2018

Real estate is one of the few professions in which clients will question your right to get paid. For whatever reason, consumers do not seem to understand the job of a real estate agent. Sometimes, that ignorance manifests itself in the form of a toxic client.

Every real estate agent has begrudgingly dealt with toxic clients. Toxic clients are incredibly unpleasant to handle, whether they are relentlessly demanding, act extremely disrespectful, or permeate negativity. Here’s how to identify and deal with different types of toxic clients:

Key Takeaways

  • Know-it-alls: provide extra education like statistics and include them in the process
  • Relentlessly demanding: set hard boundaries like time restrictions on communication and stay focused on relevant information
  • Disrespectful: Avoid them altogether because they are not likely to change their personality


Type One: They Know Best

These are clients who believe they simply know best how real estate works, and most assuredly don’t.

Some great examples of the “they know best” client is the seller who wants to set the price of their own home, or the low-balling buyer who thinks they’ll even get a response bidding so far below the asking price it’s embarrassing.

How To Deal with They Know Best Clients

Educate, give them stats, and include them in the process. These are people who want to score a great deal or somehow work the system, they just don’t know how negotiating, or other areas, truly work.

Be patient, and they’ll often come around. You might lose a couple of offers before they come around, but through education you’ll close the deal.

Type Two: The Impossible Negative

The-Impossible-Negative-How to Recognize and Deal with Toxic Clients

These clients are unreasonable, pessimistic, and resistant to consultation. They want a house on the beach in Miami for a price that would be a fixer upper in a flyover state, and complain that every listing you show them isn’t good enough.

How To Deal with The Impossible Negative Client

Avoid them. When you sense from your first meeting that they’re unreasonable, ask to set up an informal “expectations meeting” to get a better handle on what they’re looking for.

This is a great situation when, for the price of a cup of coffee and an hour of your time, you can save yourself unlimited hassle.

Type Three: Relentlessly Demanding

These are clients that have a feel to them. Unlike the impossible negatives, these individuals might have perfectly reasonable expectations.

They can be very nice people, but are terrible energy vampires who expect you to be on call to their every whim or idea.

They’re exhausting.

How To Deal with Relentlessly Demanding Clients

Set boundaries. I know, we all want to go above and beyond for clients, but there comes a time when you just can’t continue to spend unlimited time on something irrelevant to the search.

Politely redirect them.

For example, if they want you to research building codes because of “curiosity,” state that you simply don’t have the time to do things outside of the search right now, and give them a name so that they can look into it on their own.

Type Four: Disrespectful

Disrespectful-How to Recognize and Deal with Toxic Clients

These are the worst kind of toxic clients. Sure, it’s okay for clients to have some valid frustrations because emotions run high…but this is different. It goes too far.

It’s not about the process or their disappointment, it’s a personal attack on you. They are not just inappropriate, they can be downright verbally abusive, venting their anger in inappropriate ways, and then still continue to want to use you.

How to Deal with Disrespectful Clients

Avoid them. Meeting a new agent is like a first date, and it should be when clients are on their best behavior.

Yes, people can be unlikeable or have a personality you just don’t click with, but this is beyond that.

If you already see that a client is speaking disrespectfully, in a way that is demeaning or offensive to you, walk away.

Type Five: The Ghost Client

They might seem incredibly interested in a property yet don’t respond to emails/texts, they may be nice to you in person but send biting or mean emails.

These are tough clients because they are unpredictable, can give you mixed messages, and can ultimately spoil great deals.

How to Deal with The Ghost Client

Call them out.

A lot of times, we hold back saying things to avoid uncomfortable discussions, and in this case it will end up spoiling deals at the end.

People are usually pretty surprised when you call them out, but if done in a way that is professional and lays out the importance, you’ll find that often these clients will fall in line.

7 Red Flag Client Behaviors to Watch Out For:

  1. They’re Overly Demanding.
    They want urgent responses and they’re not even your client yet. While you might be an agent on your game, they are already attempting to manage you. Either you feel you can redirect these clients’ expectations, or let them go.
  2. They Lack Clarity.
    They don’t know what they need or want and are generally unclear. This can either be a process of discovery, or a pattern of indecisiveness you don’t want.
  3. They Expect Free Work.
    They expect you to work without a contract while they ‘test you out.’ You are not a car, don’t give test drives.
  4. They Lie.
    They may have mentioned earlier that they are selling due to a pending divorce, but now say they just want to downsize. Lying to someone who has no skin in the game is a bad sign.
  5. They’re Inconsistent Communicators.
    If they have difficulties even setting up or holding to initial appointments or calls, that isn’t a wonderful sign of things to come. Weigh whether they can be educated or if this is a persistent pattern.
  6. They Bad Mouth Several Previous Agents.
    While there are certainly some ineffective agents out there, a pattern of problems with previous agents usually reflects on a problem with the client.
  7. They are Belittling or Rude.
    Like a first date, this is when clients are usually on their best behavior. If they are rude now, just wait until they get comfortable.

View the original article at The Close