When Is the Right Time to Say NO to Real Estate Clients?

Without Closing the Door Long Term

Many of the most successful real estate agents will tell you this is a numbers game. You may often here things like "volume over value" or "become a 'yes' person.". While that methodology has been effective for agents new and seasoned, there are a few cases where pressing the pause button on that school of thought is a better option.

Regardless of the reason, there are ways to turn away unsavory clientele without damaging your reputation, prospects, confidence and dignity.  Our statewide and nationwide MLS members have often presented some of the most successful ways to walk away or turn down a client with minimal to no collateral damage. 

Reasons to Just Say No

Some of the most common reasons MLS members have had to rethink a prospective or existing client are:

The needs of the clients do not match the skills of the real estate agent they've chosen
Shady, sticky, or suspect situations
Time constraints, pressure, and unrealistic expectations
The client's residential or commercial ethics (or lack-there-of)

It's Not You It's Me 

If you specialize in rehab, bank owned or short sales, but the client referred to you by a family member or friend wants new condo construction. You hesitate, but they're a family friend, and the last thing you want to do is explain why you turned away an excellent opportunity to a relative. Could you handle this? Probably. Is there a higher percentage chance you may struggle through the process while more lucrative opportunities dry up? Definitely. So how do you cut bait and walk away? 

Kindly offer honesty: "Mr. or Ms. Client, while I am qualified, I want to be honest. I don't think I am the best match for your housing search. That said, I would love to introduce you to my college Mark; he has extensive experience in that area and would be a better fit for your needs specifically." If adequately presented (and handed off), you will better serve the client, preserve the relationship, and walk away with a referral fee to cash in sooner or later.

Pro Tip: MyStateMLS allows real estate agents and brokers to search for and list residential, and commercial properties outside of their traditional MLS territories. This may, in fact allow you to take on a larger region or client base. 

Something Doesn't Feel Kosher 

Trusting your gut is part of being a great real estate agent. You probably shouldn't be doing it if it doesn't feel good. Whether your client believes "they know it all" are perpetually late or even seem dishonest, it is ultimately up to you to decide if "the juice is worth the squeeze," so to say. Demanding clients are and always will be part of your work life. The best rule of thumb is to weigh the pros and cons of the opportunity. It may be worth more consideration if your potential financial gain outweighs the possible stress or strife. 

Draw a line in the sand pleasantly: If the client looks and feels like a problem, they almost always are. As challenging as it may be to say no to a client, real estate agents often gamble with their time as it is, and there's no reason to increase risk when it already occurs naturally. Your best option here is "I'm terribly sorry, but my schedule has recently filled up, and I like to be certain I have enough time to provide my clients with a premium service. I could put you back in touch with our office or suggest a few realtors interview." The only issue with the ladder portion of that approach is the 'who' part of who you'd suggest. Do you really want to toss a grenade like that toward a colleague? Probably not. Keep it short, be direct and pleasant, say it as you mean it, and exit.

Timing Is Everything, BUT It's Also Your Money 

When your real estate job turns into a legitimate 'career' the amount of time you have available for anything else will become less and less. If there ever were something to wish for, it would be more time. Ironically, many of your clients will feel the same about how much time they spend with you. In the current housing market, time is scarce. That doesn't change the expectations of your clients. As far as they are concerned, they're you're only (or at least number one) client and should be treated as such. If you don't have time, it is not worth the hassle. 

Let them down easy, and get a referral fee: "John, I would love to work with you but, I currently have a family and additional commitments I have to attend, and I don't believe it would be fair to you if I took you on as a client at this time. That said, I have a great agent I regularly work with that I know you'll love. I think they can help you with your research and get you exactly what you're looking for faster than I could. I will still be here for you when it comes time to decide, if you need me." 

Ethical Real Estate 

This isn't like the first time you bought a used car from your buddy down the street; This is a six or seven-figure investment that will attract prying eyes whether you want them or not. If you notice a client or someone employed in the home buying process adjusting an appraisal, any of the inspections, or even a loan application, don't let it slide, don't walk away, you run to the nearest exit as if your life depended on it. Your career certainly does. 

Pro Tip: MyStateMLS DOES NOT charge additional fees, regardless of agent commissions. Our focus has and will always be to provide agents and brokers with the ability to extend their search and reach without paying for multiple listing services! 

Could we lower our commission if requested by the client? 

Technically yes, some firms have been known to do that, but most are not. Approach every scenario with your best character and actions where you can because we often see a rising star diminish because of carelessness. No is not a dirty word, and it is more often the best shield you have in the real estate process.    

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