Declining the Monkey without Being Snotty about it - Part II

Education & Training with Sell with Soul


Pre-vacation, I wrote a "to be continued" blog about avoiding burnout by refusing to accept responsibility for stuff that isn't your responsibility, specifically in a real estate transaction. I promised to share some ideas for putting this philosophy into place that don't alienate the other party, who in all likelihood isn't trying to be difficult. And could end up being a fantastic client with a workable deal.

The first trick to respectfully declining your clients' monkeys is to know which monkeys are appropriate to decline. And which are rightfully yours to carry.  Yes, when our clients hire us, they have a right to expect us to take on some of the burden of their real estate transaction. Entering into a real estate agent/client relationship creates responsibilities on each side. The clearer you are on whose responsibilities are whose, the easier it will be to assign them to the appropriate party.

Put another way, what factors of the transaction are within your control, which are within your client's control and which are out of either of your control?

You control:

•         the services you are willing to provide

•         the marketing you are willing and able to do

•         the price at which you are willing to take a listing

•         whether or not you will take a short-sale listing

•         the times you are available to your buyer

•         the expertise you have in advising a seller how to prepare for market

•         the resources you have in place to help a seller prepare for market

•         your willingness to show short sales, foreclosures, FSBO's or new construction

•         how often you will communicate with your client

•         how much you charge for your services

Your client controls:

•         the price he is willing to list and sell for

•         how much he is willing to "come to the table with" if he's upside down in his mortgage

•         whether or not he's willing to short-sell

•         the amount of work he is willing to do and the funds he has available to prepare for market

•         the times he is available to look at houses

•         what marketing services he will require from his agent

•         how much he is willing to offer on a home

•         whether or not to allow unrestricted showings

•         whether or not he wants to pursue short sales, foreclosures, FSBOs or new construction

•         whether or not he is happy with the inventory in his price range

•         how much he is willing to pay for real estate services

Neither of you controls:

•         changing lending requirements

•         overall market activity

•         the cost of home maintenance and repair

•         interest rates

•         closing costs

•         the underwriter

•         the agent on the other side of the deal

•         the buyer or seller on the other side of the deal

So, how are these "control" issues relevant to getting the various monkeys assigned properly? Any thoughts?

I'll share mine next time...


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Re-Blogged 3 times:

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  1. Jimmie Graham 09/21/2009 03:34 AM
  2. Renee Infinger- 09/21/2009 04:00 AM
  3. Tim Ludemann 09/22/2009 08:20 AM
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SarahGray Lamm
Allen Tate Realtors Chapel Hill, NC 919-819-8199 - Chapel Hill, NC
Realtor - 100K Hours of NC Real Estate Experience

Excellent post Jennifer...and I LOVE this analogy! Use it all the time! NOT MY MONKEY!

Sep 21, 2009 10:01 AM #23
Joel Weihe
Realty World Alliance - Wichita, KS
Helping you to use your VA home loan benefits

I'm imagining the weird looks I'll get when I tell a client that that is indeed "Their monkey."  LOL. Great list and great things to remember.  They have things to do too!

Sep 21, 2009 10:14 AM #24
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Sheree - Ahhh, no need to explain the Monkey to a client - tomorrow's blog will share a few tips for shrugging off the Monkey without alienating the other guy!

Sarah - It really is eye-opening to realize that not everything is your problem to solve, isn't it?

Christine - I do believe that when we're hired to manage a process, it's reasonable for our client to expect us to oversee that process... but we need to be clear in the beginning what sorts of things we can control and where we need others' participation..

Emily - As above, I don't really mind taking the blame when a deal goes sour - it IS my job to keep things running smoothly. But it's no one else's fault but mine if I agree to accept responsibility for things utterly beyond my control when I could have enlisted the support of my client upfront!

Gary - a builder client once told me "Jennifer, you CAN say no." Wow - what a concept.

Ricky - sounds as if you have a great system!

Russell - Funny, that really wasn't where I was trying to go with this blog, but it ended up there. Glad you enjoyed it!

Laurie - I do believe it's our job to monitor everyone else's monkeys! But that doesn't mean they're all our responsibility to put on our backs...

Sep 21, 2009 10:41 AM #25
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

I just noticed that there's a gold star on this post - thanks! As I commented above, my goal in writing this post wasn't to assign responsibility to various parties - therefore giving us permission to scream "It's NOT MY MONKEY!" which seems to me would be an effective rapport-killer. My point was to help us identify for ourselves which factors we can control, but more importantly, which ones our CLIENTS control, and are, therefore, our clients' monkeys.

More tomorrow!

Sep 21, 2009 10:47 AM #26
Kristi DeFazio
RE/MAX Advantage - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs Rea lEstate 719-459-5468


This is a great post for me as I am somewhat of a "control freak". It is good to take a step back sometimes.

Sep 21, 2009 12:10 PM #28
Sonja Patterson
Keller Williams - BV - College Station, TX
Texas Monthly 5-Star Realtor Recipient for the Hou

Excellent post and comments, too! Yes, I sometimes beat myself up over things that are beyond my control.  I need to "let it go" and realize that it is ok. Not every transaction is going to be "smooth sailing".

Sep 21, 2009 12:16 PM #29
Chris Olsen
Olsen Ziegler Realty - Cleveland, OH
Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate

Hi Jennifer -- Very good advice.  It helps to communicate all this in writing to clients so they know what to expect and not to.  I put everything in writing -- my service commitment, marketing plan, communication, etc., so nothing (well...almost :-)) is left to chance.  Expectation setting is key.

Sep 21, 2009 12:31 PM #30
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

Doing what we can do is the way to act in a professional manner. I've often done more than that, when I can. Having said that sometimes I have no control over things even tho i might try to.


Sep 21, 2009 12:40 PM #31
Lee & Carol Barbour, REALTORS
Murphy and Hayesville, NC; Hiawassee, Blairsville, Blue Ridge GA and Copperhill TN - Murphy, NC
Mountain Living Team in Murphy NC and North GA

Great advice Jennifer. There are things I tend to take too personally and I have no control over. Reality check.

Sep 21, 2009 03:36 PM #32
Rajeev Narula
iPRO REALTY LTD.,Brokerage - Mississauga, ON
My Services Are All About You!

This was reaaaaaly good.

Now waiting for the next part.

Sep 21, 2009 04:09 PM #33
Scott Miller
Best Connections Realty - Boca Raton, FL

The most important bit of advice my broker gave me in the past year is, "Once you've created the 'meeting of the minds' between the two parties, your job is over."  Everything you do from that point on is extra.  Just like your commission is earned when the-meeting-of-the-minds takes place, so is the bulk of your work finished.

Sep 21, 2009 09:00 PM #34
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate


Thanks for summarizing these control factors. I have gotten much better about who controls what but there are times I find need a reality check! I always say "it is what it is!"

Sep 21, 2009 11:32 PM #35
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul
Sep 21, 2009 11:44 PM #36
Tom Larkin - Lexington, KY

Thank for your great insights. Not taking responsibility for market conditions is a consstant challange. Everybody plays on that

Sep 22, 2009 01:26 AM #37
Jeani Codrey
The Learning Jeani - New Braunfels, TX
If you're not learning, you're not living!

I love it!!!  I heard a speaker a couple of months ago who kept saying don't take on other people's monkeys!!!  He said "Just say, that's NOT my monkey!!!"  This is so true, why waste precious time freaking out over things we cannot control???  Great advice.

Sep 22, 2009 02:55 AM #38
Dora & Vincent Kwok
HomeSmart Real Estate - Chandler, AZ
CNE - Chandler, Arizona Real Estate

great list of areas of responsibility/control.

Sep 22, 2009 05:25 AM #40
Chad McBain

I was taught early in life not to worry about things I cannot control, still is relevant today. Great post.

Sep 22, 2009 01:27 PM #41
Blake Farley
Real Living Hacienda Realty - Silver City, NM

Yes, I want to print this list out and give it to my sellers.  Would that be appropriate ;)

Sep 23, 2010 04:55 AM #42
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Blake - I think you can use the list (you have my permission!), but don't just print it out - some people may not appreciate the whole "Monkey" reference. But I think it's a great idea to create your own list from this list - a "Here's what I Control" "Here's what You Control" "And here's what neither of us controls!"

If you put something like this together, please share!

Sep 23, 2010 05:06 AM #43
Unbelievable how well-written and ifnortmaive this was.
Jan 05, 2012 07:15 AM #44
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