How to Decline the Monkey, Part III

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

Monkey Free Zone


First, allow me to apologize for dragging this Monkey Series* on too long. I really didn't intend to write more than one or two posts on it, but I just keep thinking of things to say! I was hoping this would be the last one, but I suspect it's not. Hang in there with me, k? I really AM trying to get to my point.

Yesterday, I wrote about CONTROL. Specifically, which issues of a real estate transaction (i.e. Monkeys) YOU control; which ones your CLIENT controls and which ones neither of you has any say over. My point in spelling it all out wasn't to give anyone permission to be snotty with a buyer or seller when he tries to hand off his Monkey; no, I just wanted to clarify which Monkeys are appropriate to decline. ("Declining the Monkey" means to refuse to accept responsibility for problems that are not yours to solve.)

If you didn't read yesterday's blog, please do so here. The rest of this won't make much sense if you don't - sorry. And while you're at it, read this one, too.

Believe it or not, politely declining to take on your clients' monkeys has a lot to do with respect. Respecting your CLIENT'S intelligence, abilities and willingness to do his part. Acknowledging that your client has a brain and a checkbook, and that he can probably find some free time. A lot of us don't seem to give our clients the benefit of the doubt that they are willing or able to do their part, so we either offer to do it for them or walk away frustrated.Upside down monkey

Sure, an upside-down seller will be more than happy to dump his upside-down monkey on you, if you agree to take it. A frustrated buyer would be tickled to let YOU figure out where that extra 5% down is going to come from when the terms of his loan change. But you CAN gracefully hand that monkey back to the buyer or seller without his ever noticing the hand-off!

Let's use the example from my initial blog of the seller who owes $415,000 on a house that might be worth $399,000. To come out whole, he really needs to sell around $430,000. Oh, and he DOESN'T want to come to the table with money or short sell the house.

What do you do?

Of course, you can refuse to take the listing, and indeed, that's what you might end up doing. Or you might agree to take the listing at a too-high price, and regret it every day for the next six months. But are those the only two options?


There is another solution to this problem. One that may result in a sellable listing. What IS this magic solution?

I dunno.

It's your seller's solution to discover. And if you let him keep his monkey, he may very well come up with the solution on his own. Maybe he'll decide to kiss up to Aunt Lulu and ask her for a short-term loan to cover the spread. Maybe he'll decide a short-sale isn't out of the question. Maybe he'll agree to make the improvements you recommend to give him a better shot at a higher price.

Or maybe he'll come up with something brilliant none of us thought of.

But... but... but... how DO you show your prospect or client the respect of letting him keep his own monkeys? What do you say? Or not say?

You know the drill... stay tuned...


*I didn't make up the Monkey concept - Terry Watson did. You can purchase Monkey t-shirts at his website:


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Mike Jaquish
Realty Arts - Cary, NC
919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate

Respect for Clients' intellect and creativity can be very rewarding.  Folks DO find a way to get to where they want to be quite often when allowed to think and act.

But, they have to get past the "bunker mentality" that is so common with stressed sellers and buyers.  The patient agent who gives the client respect, i.e., a little breathing room, and waits for them to find their way while supporting them as appropriate can do well.

Sep 21, 2009 11:44 PM #1
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Mike- VERY well said!!! Excellent!

Sep 22, 2009 12:44 AM #2
Larry Bettag
Cherry Creek Mortgage Illinois Residential Mortgage License LMB #0005759 Cherry Creek Mortgage NMLS #: 3001 - Saint Charles, IL
Vice-President of National Production

I'm with Mike.  I refer all my clients to a top 10 realtor in Illnois.  She gives that breathing room.  Clients need a partner, not a full press realtor trying to make a sale.  A partner.

Sep 22, 2009 01:17 AM #3
christine foreman

In this stress filled market that we are in it is hard to remember that everyone is feeling it.  Pushing too hard and not allowing the clients to decide is a hard thing to avoid but if we can all step back, and as Mike said, give them some breathing room, all of the parties will usually come to an appropriate decision.  One of my favorite quotes comes from J. Dragon in the Enignatic Entrepreneur and it states "use your strengths and natural ability to build your business.  Whatever you do, focus on the customer benefits you provide".  Sometimes, just providing them with respect is a benefit that they deserve.

Sep 22, 2009 05:22 AM #4
Shana Haugen
Century 21 - Gold Key - Fargo, ND

Yes!!  We're not here to pressure or force people into doing things, we're here to assist them.  We can give them information, but they have the final say.  I do NOT want to read them a script to lead them, I want them to feel good about THEIR decisions. 

Sep 22, 2009 07:40 AM #5
Sherry Siegel, Managing Broker, EcoBroker, ABR
BrokersGroup, serving Sequim and Port Angeles - Sequim, WA

Coming from a "helper" background, I find it all too easy to try to take over certain aspects that, amazingly enough, do have Not MY Monkey written all over them. I like the answer you gave to your question: I DUNNO. So for this week I will pay attention by remaining silent when I feel the monkey enter the room.

Sep 22, 2009 08:19 AM #6
Barbara Heil-Sonneck
Design2Sell - Atlanta, GA
Home Staging Atlanta

Hi Jennifer, I continue to enjoy reading the Monkey series and this is very good advice, and I can translate it for my line of business, thank you!

Sep 22, 2009 12:54 PM #7
Chuck Capan
REMAX River Cities - Moline, IL
REALTOR Licensed In IL. - Moline Homes Quad Citie

I see a new book on the horizon.

Monkey Business: Life as a real estate agent.

Sep 22, 2009 05:03 PM #8
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Chuck - I love it! And if I keep writing about the Monkey, I might just have enough material...

Barbara - I'd love to hear an example or two!

Sherry - Perfect strategy - let me know how it goes. SILENCE CAN BE GOLDEN

Shana & Larry - CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP!!!

Sep 23, 2009 12:33 AM #9
Robin Rogers
Robin Rogers, Silverbridge Realty, San Antonio, Texas - San Antonio, TX
CRS, TRC, MRP - Real Estate Investment Adviser

Hi, Jennifer:

Great point. It is so difficult for me (and many other agents, I suspect) to not try to come up with the solution to our clients' problems. After all, we are the experts!



Sep 23, 2009 01:30 AM #10
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Hi Jennifer,

I love Chucks comment..there is no doubt you will have plenty of material to write that book! You make an excellent point. I refer to it as "team" effort. There has to be interaction on both sides to make it work. When a seller is really needs to get their $ out of the home it is no different than if they had to sell stock. It might not be a pretty picture but "it is what it is" and sometimes you have to cut your loses and get the monkey off your back!

Sep 23, 2009 04:53 AM #11
Florida Private Golf Communities
Golf Life Properties, LLC - Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Finding Home Never Felt Better!

Loving the series on "the Monkey".  Keep em comin!

Sep 23, 2009 12:38 PM #12
Stacie Colclasure
Gateway Holding and Referral Company - Bethalto, IL
Realtor, Bethalto, IL

very timely posts.  It seems I live in a society where people either don't want to or don't know how to take responsibility for themselves.  I, having a people pleaser personality, have had some tough lessons on setting boundaries.  But when you learn how to do that, it is so liberating!  And most of the time, I end up earning respect from the other person.

Sep 24, 2009 06:05 AM #13
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Stacie - you nailed it. It's incredibly liberating... and very respectful. I remember when I suddenly GOT IT and felt a tremendous sense of power over my life and my business.

Sep 24, 2009 06:49 AM #14
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