The flip side to being the voice of trust for our clients

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty - Lakeside Market Center

The other morning I read a wonderful article by Rich Jacobson.  He wrote about how we as real estate professionals need to the voice of reason and trust to our clients,as well as telling us about a real life situation in which this was conveyed professionally by him to his clients and vice verse.

As I read his article I found myself nodding my head in agreement with him, and also remembering the times that speaking honestly and at times, bluntly, with my clients has caused me to be fired over the years.

You see, I have this funny quirk of bluntness that leads my mouth to spill out the  words: 
"That won't work"  or  "It isn't a good idea" or  "I can't do that".

Recent examples of my quirky bluntess: 

  • The FHA buyer who wanted to look at condos in subdivisions that I knew wouldn't
    fly with HUD.

  • The home owner who wanted to put their home on the market for $30,000 more than
    the current value to "just give it a try."

  • The first time home buyer who insisted on viewing short sale homes with the Federal tax
    credit being the overwhelming factor in his buying a home this year.

I lost all 3 of those potential clients because of my bluntness when it became clear that no matter what I said or how I worded it that they were going to go full head on with their decisions.

On the flip side, I had a Rich Jacobson moment just a short while ago in which my buyer client said "This is why I hired you.  Thank you." when giving her advice and explaining why something wouldn't work out and wasn't in her best interest.   

Lose a few clients and sleep better at night?     I'll do that every time.


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Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate

Kris, we can only be honest, if they don't want to hear this, then what can we do. I know I tell people that all the time. Most listen and a few don't. If it is early in the relationship we count the cost of working together. If it doesn't start out with trust there is no place to go but down.

If a seller can't meet market conditions, or sell short best to work with someone else.

Oct 08, 2009 11:01 PM #1
Mike Jaquish
Realty Arts - Cary, NC
919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate

"The FHA buyer who wanted to look at condos in subdivisions that I knew wouldn't
fly with HUD."

That "buyer" was probably able to find an "agent" who would help them get into a contract, run up expenses like inspection fees, and put earnest money at risk, with no hope of closing a transaction.

Good job, Kris.

Oct 08, 2009 11:06 PM #2
Chip Jefferson
Gibbs Realty and Auction Company - Columbia, SC

I sleep like a baby. If the truth hurts then so be it. If it wasn't for honesty I would have to move on to career that I had no input.

Oct 08, 2009 11:13 PM #3
Richard Iarossi
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Crofton, MD
Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate


Been there, done that, got the tee shirt too. Some buyers just don't understand that you're being hired to "represent" them, and that carries with it a good deal of responsibility.

It's getting pretty close to the cutoff date for me to stop working with 1st time homebuyers who don't have a ratified contract.


Oct 08, 2009 11:23 PM #4
Kris Wales
Keller Williams Realty - Lakeside Market Center - Macomb, MI
Real Estate Blog & Homes for Sale search site, Macomb County MI

Missy,  The last time something like this happened I said "I'm not the agent for you." and meant it.  To go along with some of these things is like rubber stamping approval for it.  Just can't do it.  As you said, the cost of business also has to be weighed.

Mike,  I pointed out all of those things and it still went in one ear and out the other.  Even put it on paper so it would be in black and white what the risk was.  Couldn't do it.

Laura,  I'm with you.  If I had to put duct tape over my mouth I'd quit :-)

Rich,  It's so close to the deadline now that I'm telling buyers I cannot guarantee they will close in time.  I think I'm also going to put that in writing for a bit.

Oct 08, 2009 11:24 PM #5
Pat O'Reilly
RE/MAX..214-289-6176 Irving and all of Dallas Fort Worth - Irving, TX

In these times it is hard to pass on a client but time shows you again and again it is the right thing to do. Thanks for the truth...

Oct 09, 2009 12:00 AM #6
Mike Mitchell
Real Living Kee Realty - Saint Clair Shores, MI

I just had the tax credit / short sale conversation with a new client yesterday. Told them there is no way we can close a short sale in time (haven't even viewed home yet) for tax credit deadline, they understood and thanked me.

Oct 09, 2009 01:11 AM #7
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

The sad thing is when these folks leave you they find an agent that thinks it is possible!

Oct 09, 2009 02:18 AM #8
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Hi Kris,

Well said and well done. Sleeping better at night because you did the right thing wins out in my book every time. It's a shame some can't understand the truth when faced with it. Those that do are worth all the time you spend with them!!

Oct 09, 2009 10:35 AM #9
Terry & Bonnie Westbrook
Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner - Grand Rapids, MI
Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re

We are better for it. Too bad some customers don't want client advice.

Oct 09, 2009 11:22 AM #10
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Kris, It's far better to be honest then to make promises you may not be able to deliver on.  I always tell my clients the truth whether I believe they will stay with me or not...Wonderful post.

Oct 09, 2009 11:40 AM #11
Kris Wales
Keller Williams Realty - Lakeside Market Center - Macomb, MI
Real Estate Blog & Homes for Sale search site, Macomb County MI

Pat,  you're welcome :-)  It is hard to do, but oftentimes the best decision.

Mike,  I'm glad they listened to you.  Most do, but there are a few who still don't believe what we have to say.

Gary,  and then they have to say to themselves: "I should have listened.."

Dorie,   I showed homes all weekend, and slept well both days :-)  Realistic and fun buyer clients.  Thanks.

Terry and Bonnie,  Thankfully the "some" are few and far in between.

Carole,  Thank you.  I'm sure you've found it much the same in your line of work in this industry.  Good for you!

Oct 12, 2009 01:15 AM #12
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Kris, yeah!  I've lost a few that way myself.  I think we have to pick the people who will think of our advice as good and not quirky!

Oct 12, 2009 09:59 AM #13
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Kris Wales

Real Estate Blog & Homes for Sale search site, Macomb County MI
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