WHEN YOUR CLIENT SAYS "JUMP," DO YOU SAY "HOW HIGH?" Your Reaction to Unrealistic Expectations?

Real Estate Agent with Dean's Team - Keller Williams Realty Partners Chicago IL

Here in Chicago, we're enjoying - or, perhaps, enduring - a White (Weekend After) Christmas!  Anyone know a teen aged kid with a shovel?  Send 'em here!

This post keeps Real Estate Practitioners looking for Listing Inventory in mind . . . but I would imagine the same principals would apply to virtually anyone in a sales, consulting, or advisory business.

Here are the questions for this chilly Sunday -

When your client makes unreasonable demands about their work relationship with you, do you comply?  Do you compromise?  Or, do you simply walk away, and not do business with them?

This time of year, as a Chicago Real Estate Broker looking to add listings to my inventory, I often contact sellers whose listings expired with another Realtor.   The one common thread to these listings, and the sellers - they spent many weeks, usually months on the market without selling their home.

The other common factor has a couple of possible branches to it.

Were the sellers reasonable and respectful of their Listing Agents advice relative to property marketing and pricing?  Or, did they simply list their desires and expectations?

Even worse - did the Listing Agent simply COMPLY with what they felt to be unrealistic demands and expectations, simply to placate their client, only later to let their clients down when their property did not sell?

My concern here is those agents who simply nod their head and comply, and work for a client knowing they will not likely sell their home in the time allowed.  They fear losing a listing if they do not acquiesce.  And, after all, they need the business!

It is these weaker agents - weaker sales professionals - that concern me.  They give other, more professional, candid professionals, and the business of Real Estate Sales and Marketing as a whole,  a black eye.

You might have seen examples of the weak professionals shoddy work -

1.  The seller insists on a too high price for their home - one which is unlikely to result in a sale.  BUT THE WEAK PROFESSIONAL AGREES TO TAKE THE LISTING ANYWAY!

2.  The seller insists on frequent Public Open Houses.  According to statistics, it is extremely rare for Open Houses to actually result in a sale of the subject home.  BUT THE WEAK PROFESSIONAL AGREES TO TAKE THE LISTING ANYWAY!

3.  The seller poo-poos the idea of de-cluttering, or common-sense housekeeping, or simple staging,  BUT THE WEAK PROFESSIONAL AGREES TO TAKE THE LISTING ANYWAY!

4.  The seller demands expensive, extensive print advertising, despite the fact the latest market stats indicate such advertising is unlikely to be effective.  BUT THE WEAK PROFESSIONAL AGREES TO TAKE THE LISTING ANYWAY!

5.  The seller requires every showing be personally accompanied, in an area where such listing-agent- accompanied showings are not the norm.  BUT THE WEAK PROFESSIONAL AGREES TO TAKE THE LISTING ANYWAY!

I think I have made my point . . . yes?

When calling on Expired Listings, I first examine their old, unsalable Listing Price.  When I ask the dismayed unsuccessful seller if this was the price the agent counseled them to list at, I often hear, "No, this is the price I said we need to sell for!"  The agent simply complied, often without much protest.

Now, weeks or months later, the seller is upset.  "No agent can sell my home!"  When the real problem is - one agent was weak, and now the good ones must now pay the price of the seller's poor initial selection.

Listing Agents, how would you prevent such a thing from happening to you and your clients?  Compromising?  Being flexible?  Telling your clients to "Go Climb a Tree?"

I have often contended that much of the unsold inventory on the market today is a direct result of a weaker listing agent simply agreeing to "make the client happy." 

This problem is especially acute in this day and age, when it really is tough to predict what the final sales price is likely to be, as prices, in many Real Estate Markets across the U.S., are still falling.

Several times in 2009, our Real Estate Team has taken listings from what seem to be reasonable clients - right priced, nicely staged, motivated to sell, house always available for showings - only to have the sellers turn on us when the market turned more unreasonable than we originally predicted.

These unsold listings cost us time, money, mental anxiety - and, likely, no future referrals from a disappointed client.

We have walked away this past year from clients with unreasonable price and market expectations - only to see those listings remain unsold with another, more agreeable Real Estate Practitioner.  Other times, we see the same listings with multiple price reductions finally selling - often the original price we suggested when, way back when, at the time we refused their business.

But, still, every single day, other Real Estate Agents take high-priced, poorly-motivated, poorly-staged listings anyway, simply to build their inventory!

What are the rest of us supposed to do about this?  Please share your thoughts!



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Gerry Michaels
Glasswork Media Arts - Gettysburg, PA
GettysburgGerry Social Meida

I don't a believe a Realtor has reached the experienced stage of real estate until they have fired a client. I have learned through the years that it is okay to walk away, and alot of times had I taken that advice sooner I would have alleviated of frustration in my life.

Dec 27, 2009 06:55 AM #1
Michael J. Gallo
Florida Luxury Realty - New Port Richey, FL
Florida Luxury Realty - Gulf Home Sales Team

Dean, You Definitly Made Your Point...I wonder if these are the same "Professionals" who don't answer their phone or email.  Listing an UnSellable is poor business practice even for a newbie.

Dec 27, 2009 06:55 AM #2
Kate Talarico
Kates Home Staging and Interior Design - Goshen, NY
RESA, Top Orange County Home Decorator & Stager

Dean ~ Great post!  I always say there are three things that sell a home - price, location, and presentation.  Also, included in price is a great marketing campaign to attract all potential buyers.  If a home is not priced right, it will not sell even if it is staged beautifully. You can hold an Open House every weekend, but if the home is priced to high with clutter on every counter - it will not sell.  Listing a home that will not sell is not a good business strategy.  Kate

Dec 27, 2009 07:28 AM #3
Gerald Mayo
Prudential Team Realty - Estes Park, CO
Mr. Estes Park


We are all often frustrated by some of the things we see in the marketplace.  I have walked away from listings where the Seller(s) had unreasonable expectations only to see them sell the following week.  I have taken listings at a "great" price only to wonder eight months later why they didn't sell the first week.

That aside, we just have to be professionals, and part of being a professional is setting the expectations.  Let the customer/client know what we are willing to, and are going to do early on.  Once the parameters of those expectations have been set they know what to expect.

If we actually under promise and over deliver and exceed those expectations we will not only have extremely happy customers/clients, as professionals we will also sell their home.

Dec 27, 2009 07:31 AM #4
Betty Knowles
Southwest Missouri Realty - www.teamknowles.com - Springfield, MO
TeamKnowles REALTORS® - Springfield MO Real Estate

Dean, when sellers are being unrealistic its our job to educate them to the real world. We aren't doing ourselves or them a favor taking an overpriced listing or letting them dictate how we will market and sell the home.

Dec 27, 2009 10:46 AM #5
Dean Moss
Dean's Team - Keller Williams Realty Partners Chicago IL - Chicago, IL
Dean's Team Chicago IL Real Estate Team

Thanks for the comments, folks - so true!

In practice, however - sometimes, despite our best efforts, we miss the mark (Gerald). 

The true test of our professionalism comes in our response to how the market reacts, how we communicate these facts to the seller, and how WE react if they will not now be reasonable.

In this market, being professional, candid, and action-oriented is required in order to sell almost every listing.   To serve the client, first, but also to build a good business based on salable inventory.

Apprectiate your shares!



Dec 27, 2009 11:39 AM #6
Roy Paeth
Keller Williams Inspire - Geneva, IL
Just a regular guy helping real people!

Great post Dean. I have worked with some of the clients you mention above. As a mortgage broker i sometimes am asked, "Why do you think our house is not selling?" My response is always that this is something to discuss with your realtor. Some clients will contact me because they are trying to sell their home on their own and want to know what it is worth. After having one of the realtors i work with put together some information on what homes are selling for i am amazed at the response from my client. Many times i will hear "My home is worth more than that because so and so sold their house for more." It baffles me how home owners think the realtor is wrong even though they have access to all of the data needed. Sorry for the rant.

Dec 27, 2009 12:35 PM #7
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Dean's Team Chicago IL Real Estate Team
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