How to Avoid Getting Dropped as a Real Estate Client

In my office, we have a list of individuals and organizations we won’t do business with—most are vendors, others are past clients who behaved so poorly we won’t work with them again.

The reasons vendors get put on the list can include things like doing substandard work, having no liability insurance or workers’ comp insurance, or lacking the required contractor’s license. When it comes to individuals we won’t work with, my personal philosophy is this: if I can’t trust you, I won’t work with you. If you’ve lied to me, my staff or any of my Realtors about significant issues—or if I’m pretty sure you would lie to me—then you’re blacklisted.

As a rule, Realtors are a friendly bunch, but sometimes the chemistry between a Realtor and a client just isn’t there. If either party doesn’t have a reasonable amount of respect and trust, or if miscommunications seem to be the rule rather than the exception, the relationship probably won’t work. Call it off—quickly and amicably. If you’re the agent, refer the client to a better-suited agent. If you’re the client, find a new agent.

Realtors often invest hundreds of hours of their time into a successful purchase or sale, and they only get paid when they close a transaction; that is, when they find buyers their dream property for the right price or help sellers get top dollar for their property in a timely manner. For Realtors to be successful, clients must do their part. Clients need to communicate their needs and expectations, and respond to Realtors in a timely and decisive manner for everyone to get what they want—closed transactions.

The types of clients I recommend firing are those who do not allow Realtors to be successful, or who blame Realtors for their own shortcomings. I’ve seen plenty of prospective buyers who cannot make a decision quickly enough to take advantage of an opportunity and then blame the Realtor for losing the sale. I’ve also seen buyers who want a 2,500 square foot house in good condition on the Westside for $350,000 when the median price is closer to $450,000.

At some point, a good Realtor will conclude that the number of hours invested with a certain client probably won’t be worth it, given the likelihood of closing the sale. And it’s not just the financial toll, working with frustrating clients takes an emotional toll, too. It’s exhausting to work hard and do all the right things, only to have a client miss an opportunity because they couldn’t be bothered to return a call.

In a community as small as Ukiah, we have about 200 Realtors and most of us know more than one of them. This makes choosing tough. You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but the fact is, you can’t have more than one Realtor. Make a decision and stick with it, unless the Realtor doesn’t do a good job.

I once heard of a Realtor who was showing a property to a client when another Realtor showed up. The client ran to the other Realtor and hugged her and they talked for several minutes. When the client returned to the original Realtor, he asked, “If I find you a home, are you going to buy it through me or are you going to feel obligated to buy it through your friend, there?” The client hemmed and hawed, and admitted she’d probably buy through the other Realtor. Not cool. Don’t be that person. If you have a brother-in-law or cousin or family friend with a real estate license, hire them or don’t, but don’t waste a local Realtor’s time only to give the sale to someone else.

Successful Realtors know how to close transactions. If you’re serious about buying or selling, listen to your Realtor.

If you have questions about real estate or property management, please contact me at or call (707) 462-4000. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 40 years.

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