Are you looking to do business, or do you want a free lunch? Part 2

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker

I received a call from an ad I had placed in the Chinese version of Home and Land. The lady sounded older and had broken english and said she was interviewing agents to sell her 3 unit building and purchase a high end condo in the $1M range.

When I followed up from our first call, I had the comps for her building and a list of nice condos in San Francisco. She said we would meet at 10:30 AM on Sunday, which happened to be Valentines Day and also Chinese New Year to talk about business, and then we could go have brunch.

When I pulled up in front of her building, I called to let her know I was down stairs and the first thing she did when she got in the car was to show me she had $1.7M in her bank account. When I told her it wasn't neccessary to show me, she said I just don't want you to ask if I am pre-approved for a loan. Note: ( I have sold hundreds of properties and dealt with many Asian investors and no one has every showed me proof of funds, at least not at first.)

When we got to brunch, I got a very funny feeling that this potential seller really wanted a lunch date. or a free meal. I got an odd look from the young gal who seated us.

Right then and there I wanted to ask her, are you looking to do business or are you looking for a free lunch? I thought to myself to just play it cool. During lunch, she showed me pictures of a Jack in the Box she owns along with it's lease and asked if I do commercial real estate as well. Yes I told her.

To make a long story short, I met with her again and once again all we did was have lunch. I even told my wife the first time that I had a funny feeling about this lady, but this time she showed me her owners unit and also a vacant unit in her triplex. She also told me she no longer wanted a condo, and that she would move into a rental she owned when her tenant moved out at the end of March.

Well, I must be a glutten for punishment because I met her a 3rd time, but explained to her that when we met, we needed to go over the comps and sign the listing for the 3 units. We met, but she wouldn't sign the listing agreement until she took it home and read it first.

I'm waiting to meet with her again so we can move forward with the listing, but my instincts tell me this is a scam. If we do meet, it will not be for lunch. Trust me!


Last week my client and I spoke and she informed me that she no longer wanted to sell her triplex, but wanted me to meet her the following day and write an offer for an Applebee's she was interested in.

When I informed her that I would change my schedule and come over and write the offer, but I wouldn't have time for lunch, she hung up.

Next time I will follow my instincts.



Has anything like this ever happened to you?



Comments (57)

John Howard
Century 21 LeMac Realty - Mountain Home, AR
GRI, Mountain Home, Arkansas 870-404-3614

David,  I am with Missy....I meet clients at my office whenever possible.  I have a very nice copy machine that I love to make copies of signed documents with.  I think You will end up doing a lot of business with this new client,  I hope so anyway!  Have A Great Week!

Mar 02, 2010 02:10 AM
Jo Olson
HOMEFRONT Realty - Kettle Falls, WA
Retired - HOMEFRONT Realty @ LAKE Roosevelt

How long has she had the documents?  You should know in about two days whether she is for real or not. Don't count it over just yet. My lack of trust of a potential client almost cost me a nice transaction. Call her today to set the next appointment - and you invite her to lunch but ask her to bring the signed documents signed with her.

Mar 02, 2010 02:13 AM
Jason Jakus
Platinum Elite Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Service You Deserve. Negotiations You Need

I have not had the fortune of this happening to me, but I have worked with some investors that wasted time even after signing a buyers agent agreement. They were just checking out what is out there and probably wanted to have a vacation in SWFL - they are from NY. A tax write off for them and 50 gallons of gas for me.

Mar 02, 2010 02:19 AM
Candice A. Donofrio
Next Wave RE Investments LLC Bullhead City AZ Commercial RE Broker - Fort Mohave, AZ
928-201-4BHC (4242) call/text

David, I've told a story a few times of a broker I know locally who got burned by a 'so called whale'...a week's worth of elaborate  lunches, dinners and drinks and then poof!

I'm a cyberoffice and know every wi-fi COFFEEHOUSE in town. 

I tell clients that the first time we go for lunch or dinner will be to celebrate our successful CLOSING. So let's get busy.

This lady might be feeling you out and there may be a trust issue there, but she can be doing this during a quick coffee.

You should go read my 'Flake Flambe' post. If the flake doesn't perform, don't engage them till they do. Feet to fire!


Mar 02, 2010 02:20 AM
Lana Robbins Realtor ® Licensed Real Estate Broker
Aloha Kai Real Estate - Clearwater, FL
Licensed in Florida, Washington, and Hawai'i

Hi David. It depends on so many factors so it's difficult to say. Some people like to do business over a meal while some do not. It's also a part of doing business.

Mar 02, 2010 02:26 AM
Phil Caulfield
Cardinal Financial Company, Limited Partnership - Burlingame, CA
I Get The Loans Done That The Big Banks Don't!


Congrats on the feature! I haven't had anything this strange, but I have driven down to San Jose at 8 at night to fill out a loan application, only to find out that the wife had not told the husband and he did not want to apply! Sometimes I learn things the hard way.

Mar 02, 2010 02:33 AM
David Northup
David Northup - Aim RE Group Inc, Temecula Realtors® (AIM) - Murrieta, CA

Hope it works out. Keep us posted!

Maybe suggest her Jack in the Box next time.

Mar 02, 2010 03:24 AM
Christine O'Shea
Christine E O'Shea Broker - Naples, FL

I know of some agents this has happened to.  I NEVER socalize or meet them until the deal is done and have still gotten "burnt" by ex clients.

Mar 02, 2010 03:28 AM
Clark Hitchcock
Re/Max Nyda Realty Inc - Chilliwack, BC
Realtor - Fraser Valley

It seems like it is just a free lunch she is looking for but you never know. Are you turning down other potential clients to meet with her? If not then she likely has family or people she knows that may be looking for a kind patient realtor some time soon. i worked with a client for almost a year we went from townhouse to single family house and back many times, in the end the client bought and moved in very recently. I felt like giving up on this client a few times but realized that if I did not have another appointment scheduled I had an opportunity to view homes this way. Good Luck with her.

Mar 02, 2010 05:22 AM
Tori Stamps
Stamps Realty - Franklin, TN
MA JD - Broker/Owner Franklin TN Homes for Sale

I'm with Brian.  Pull up the tax records to see if she's for real.  You never know!

Mar 02, 2010 05:23 AM
Pat, Ben and Martin Mullikin
M3 Realty - Brookfield, WI

Maybe the host of the restaurant gave you the "funny look" because your prospect had been there many times before with many other escorts.

Mar 02, 2010 06:34 AM
Andrea Merriott
PalmerHouse Properties - Smyrna, GA

Wow this has happened to me too many times.  At this point, I no longer extend that courtesy to customers. People can be so ridiculous at times. And we get the bad wrap, go figure!

Mar 02, 2010 07:12 AM
Tom Ikonomou Vancouver
RE/MAX City - Vancouver, BC
Pro-active Real Estate Marketing

What a wonderfull business we are in. We, just like our clients have say over who we want to work with. To answer your question, it's your call. If you start out thinking this person is trying to pull a fast one then mabey this person is not for you. You can refer her out or you can wait to see if she truly is serious in doing business with you. Before you decide remember one thing.... the secret to this business is this; It's all about giving.

Mar 02, 2010 08:41 AM
Jenna Dixon
Momentum Real Estate Group LLC - Marietta, GA
55 & Over | New Constructions | Horse Farms

I have to say, "if you don't sign on the line, NO FREE LUNCH".  Maybe at closing I will spring for some snacks!

Mar 02, 2010 09:11 AM
Brian Burke
Coldwell Banker - South Windsor, CT
Your Realtor & Foreclosure Expert

I wish I lived in San Francisco because I'm hungry.  ;)  Just kidding....good luck with her.  Hey, if she doesn't work out....your kind gestures will with someone else. 

Mar 02, 2010 10:08 AM
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

I like the post and the comments.  I agree to the "sign up" this is after all some loyalty if you will.


Mar 02, 2010 10:09 AM
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

I like the post and the comments.  I agree to the "sign up" this is after all some loyalty if you will.


Mar 02, 2010 10:09 AM
David Tapper
Coldwell Banker - Burlingame, CA

Thank you all for responding. It's not that I don't think she is real, we have discussed family, business.... IT's just a bad feeling I get. My office is 30 minutes from her place and her place is almost emtpy, so lunch just makes sense.

I have no trouble taking clients, whether they are past or potential ones out to lunch. Sometimes it's best so it's more personal.

I hope I'm wrong on this one and I get the listing. Thanks again.



Mar 02, 2010 11:41 AM
Amy Early Korte


Mar 03, 2010 12:40 PM
Corporate lunches San Francisco

Good information



Mar 03, 2010 05:44 PM