4 Ways to Deal with Difficult Clients

by Peter Thomas Ricci

Difficult clients are one of the necessary evils of working in real estate, though there are methods and strategies you can employ to deal with them.


We’re sure the above image is one many of you can relate to – becoming so exasperated with a difficult client that you want to don the punching gloves, rear back, and let the client have it.

Of course, it’s more beneficial to your career to be a bit more diplomatic in your approach, so we’ve collected four possible (and non-violent!) ways to deal with difficult clients:

1. Conduct a Thorough Pre-Screening Process – Before you even agree to take on a new client, you’ll want to be sure that he or she will be a good fit for your business, and the only way to ensure such a thing is through a thorough, honest pre-screening process, where you not only explain your business strategies and philosophies, but also discuss with the potential client what they expect of you in the buying and selling process.

2. Responding to a Negative with a Positive – It’s always tempting to respond to a negative with a negative and put the instigator in their place; personal satisfactions aside, though, such a response will likely not benefit your business. Instead, try responding to a negative with a positive, and transitioning from that positive to a softer approach. For instance, say a client insists they understand the market better than you, and that they, therefore, know how the home should be priced; rather than throw your experience in their face, tell them that you’re impressed with their grasp of real estate-related topics, and then suggest where you believe the home should price and why.

3. Stress Education – You’ll also want to make sure that your client’s expectations coincide with reality. For instance, though the market is miles ahead of where it was a year ago (and is actually performing quite swimmingly in some areas), there’s still a good chance that the client’s listing will not receive a dozen offers within its first hour of being listed; or that a bidding war will take place and push the listing’s sale price up by 25 percent; or that the listing will generate any interest without any marketing or TLC. The market is a profoundly different place from where it was five, 10 years ago, and your clients should realize that.

4. View Things From the Client’s Perspective – Finally, don’t always assume that you’re right. Yes, you’re the professional, and yes, you’ve been doing this for years, but there’s always the chance you could be viewing your client’s position from an incorrect vantage point; therefore, try stepping back for a moment and seeing things through their eyes, and why they may be viewing a selling strategy, or an buyer’s offer, in a certain way.

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  • Geneva Reed says:

    This was an excellent article! For years I have used all 4 ways and I tell you it works!

  • Karen Parent says:

    I agree with your #1 suggestion the most. We work better with people whom we are most alike. Detailed oriented clients like detail oriented Realtors, numbers clients like numbers Realtors, etc. It makes the trust and listening skills much easier.

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