When the Buyer Disappears

Real Estate Agent with McGraw Realtors

James Taylor!

Winter, spring, summer or fall,
all you got to do is call
and I'll be there yeah yeah yeah.

Ain´t it good to know
that you´ve got a friend
people can be so cold
they'll hurt you and desert you
well they'll take your soul if you let them
oh yeah don't you let them.

James Taylor


If you've been in Real Estate very long you know what Mr. Taylor sang is true.  Clients can be cold.  They will hurt you and desert you and sometimes your clients will even take your soul if you're not careful.  Every now and then this discussion comes up among agents and I found myself having it again last week with a fairly new agent in our office.  He was having trouble getting hold of a client whom he had been working with.  They quit taking his calls and weren't calling him back.  His emails went unanswered.  Seems they vanished. 

What really happened is that they probably dumped him.  They are probably hooked up with another agent that they met at an open house.  Or they may have called the listing agent because they felt he wasn't getting them what they wanted or he wasn't moving fast enough for them.  My bet is that they are already hooked up with another agent who promised them the world.  Surely not!  Yep, I'm afraid clients will walk away and never look back these days.  And when it happens it hurts.

It seems like clients dump their agents more readily these days.  I'm not sure if this is unique to just our industry, but it seems to be happening in increasing numbers and frequency.  I believe this is partly due to the housing information explosion via the internet and partly due to the current national attitude towards the economy, the oil spill in the Gulf, the political environment, unemployment and on and on and on.I Miss You...I REALLY Miss You!

So what can be done?  What do you do when a client dumps you?  I recommend, after the week of non-returned phone calls and emails, to back off.  You might call once a week and send an email every so often, but sometimes backing off can be a good approach.  If the client is shopping with another agent, they're not going to talk to you at the moment.  After a few weeks, you might re-establish contact.  Sometimes, even after a month or two, this works.  And the reason it works is because the buyer has usually worked the new agent out of their system.  They've looked at houses and seen that that other agent, who promised them so much really wasn't any better than you were.  It is at that point they're open to taking your calls again.  That is, of course, if they didn't buy something! 

James Taylor photo from Flickr Creative commons:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/allie-in-wonderland/2664198505/
Finger photo from Flickr Creative commons:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/doug88888/3538414354/ 

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Bob Haywood
Bob Haywood
Owasso, Oklahoma REALTOR®

(918) 272-7272

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Comments (85)

Mary Ann Daniell Realtor
Coldwell Banker United, Realtors - Subsidiary of NRT LLC - Killeen, TX
Delivering Successful Results Since 1999

I call them three times and email twice.   If I get no response, it's time to move on to more productive activities.  Agents have to have a thick skin and not take things personally.   Keep your positive energy going!   

Jul 30, 2010 10:04 AM
Lori Gilmore
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Joliet, IL
Realtor - Will County Illinois

At least the buyer disappeared before writing an offer. . .  an agent in my office had the buyer disappear after an offer was accepted!  She called and called. . .finally the buyer left a message that she would be dropping off earnest money, then. . .nothing!  Very strange!

Jul 30, 2010 11:42 AM
Vince McEveety
Gilleran Griffin Realty - Sherman Oaks, CA

great points... it's up to us as agents to present ourselves a a value to our clients or why would they commit to us... did we ask for a commitment from them?  do we explain why that commitment benefits them?


best practices etc.

Jul 30, 2010 11:51 AM
Pippa Mac
Chevaux Group Realtor, The Woodlands and Spring - The Woodlands, TX
The Woodlands TX Real Estate

Several times I have had buyers to disappear ... and then several months later show up - NO explanation given ...

Jul 30, 2010 01:27 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good evening Bob,

I'm with Richard on this one..get a buyers agency signed and you won't be wondering where they went!

Jul 30, 2010 01:52 PM
Lori Cain
eXp Realty - Tulsa, OK
Midtown Tulsa Real Estate Top Producer

Bob, darn good blog post. Congrats on the feature. I had some Buyers "disappear" and re-appear almost six months later. I set them up to receive my monthly electronic newsletter and never bothered them - they came back on their own. However, it hurts when time is invested and they never return, indeed. Great graphics!


Jul 30, 2010 02:33 PM
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Bob, it has happened to me too. I send emails and call every few days. If no response, I back off, send something once a week, then nothing, then touch base when something that meets their criteria comes on the market. After awhile, NEXT!

Jul 30, 2010 03:09 PM
Connie Johns
Transaction Realty - Toledo, OH
Toledo, Ohio Area Real Estate

At the end of second time out I ask that the Buyer Agency Agreement be signed. If that is uncomfortable for them (it never has been to date) I would cut them loose.  We are far too busy to be chasing a phantom buyer...that time could be more wisely used in prospecting.

As Jenna #64 said, the tax database can be searched by owner name.  I have had cause to use that only once.  I sent a "congratulations on your new home" note to the buyer with a copy of the buyer agency contract they signed.  They called immediately with 2 HOT leads, that begot 2 more.  Perhaps it was fear of having to pay up, maybe guilt, either way it all worked out in my favor and their referrals got a really good agent, from the testimonials I received.

Jul 30, 2010 05:08 PM
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

This is a good reason to have a broker buyer agreement, but until that point, I think you handle it well.

Jul 30, 2010 05:12 PM
Lisa Bosques
Burien, WA

I thought I was dumped by a buyer a few weeks ago.  I hadn't heard from him in some time despite my calls and e-mails. I was a bit surprised because we were looking in full force, and I didn't think I had done anything wrong.

Today when I got to the office I received a letter with a Starbucks card from the buyer.  In the letter he said that he had decided to quit his job and pursue a different path, and thanked me for my time in helping him.  He said nice things about my service and said he wouldn't hesitate to refer me to others.  I felt that it was very nice and thoughtful.  Sometimes people's lives just take a turn.  I'm still taking a break from buyers for a while though.:)

Jul 30, 2010 05:49 PM
Steven Beam
RE/MAX Alliance - Parker Colorado Real Estate. - Parker, CO
Parker Colorado Real Estate

Yep happens all the time. I've had this a few times over the years. I sometimes take a different approach and try to educate the buyer. I have written letters explaining the process and usually want to know if I was the problem. If so what could I have changed. Every time I have received a response and always a positive one.

There will always be the people that abuse your time. These are the ones I don't want to work with anyway.

Jul 30, 2010 06:58 PM
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

This happened in our office too.  I don't know why buyers don't just tell the agent that it's not going to work out instead of just not returning calls and e-mails.

Jul 30, 2010 07:10 PM
Mike Mayer
Mike Mayer, Broker/Owner - i List For Less Realty, LLC - Lafayette, LA

Reading the post I was initially experiencing remorse for the agent. However, that became tempered to empathy reading further. From your statement in #13 these were prospects, not clients. Gail addresses this #18.

Your post indicates there were an abundance of calls (communication) exchanged so I'm not sure why there had been no face-to-face meeting. Perhaps having the essential Agency chat, setting expectations, sharing the BRA "might" have helped with a physical meeting. As Lisa #75 points out, there's no real way of knowing of what happened to these folks.

I'm sure you've already had the 'heart-to-heart' with the agent involved. Best to simply leaving a voice or email message acknowledging their absence and a willingness to rekindle things when/if they're ready.

Tim #50 - No there isn't any easy way; best to simply let 'sleeping dogs lie' as it's seldom worth the extra effort proving 'procuring cause'.

Marilyn, #51 I kept calling but your voice mail wasn't set up.

Jul 30, 2010 09:54 PM
Michael Cantwell
Clear Path Mortgage - NMLS ID #2079870 - Jupiter, FL
Helping you manage your largest asset.



We get this on the lending side as well.  I think maybe to a lesser degree once we pull credit.  Maybe if you have them pre qualified with a lender partner it will allow you to work together as a team.  This might make them less likely to switch to another agent.

Just a thought.



Jul 31, 2010 12:01 AM
Kathryn Maguire
GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881 - Chesapeake, VA
Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach

I hate it when that happens!  But there are lots of people out there who will value your services.  Just move on and keep them on a slower schedule for contact. They may come back..you never know!

Jul 31, 2010 02:29 AM
Linda Lohman
Fonville Morisey Realty - Cary, NC
Former Teacher/Broker

Its part of the business....

Jul 31, 2010 03:17 AM
Christa Ross
RE/MAX Select Realty - REALTOR and Green Homes Specialist - Pittsburgh, PA
Helping you buy and sell Pittsburgh's Best Homes

I hate when that happens but it just means you should move on to the next person.

Jul 31, 2010 04:06 AM
zeta cross
Smart Green Realty - Philadelphia, PA
Getting Greener Makes Your home worth more!

I wonder if they understand that they seriously hurt our feelings?

Jul 31, 2010 10:01 AM
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

I wonder if they understand that we work for free until we have a closing!

Jul 31, 2010 04:57 PM
Bill Travis
Captain Bill Realty, LLC - Gilbert, AZ

I"m not going to spend any time on disappearing clients.

Aug 02, 2010 12:40 PM