Does It Really Matter Why the Client Chose Another Agent?

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Gold DRE #00697006

An agent emailed me yesterday to say a buyer she had been working with suddenly dropped her in favor of another agent. She wanted to know why. In fact, she went so far as to email the client and ask -- in the interest of improving her communication skills and learning from her mistakes -- but the client did not respond. She wondered if I would be willing to call the client and find out why the client had hired a different agent.

It's human nature to wonder and to sometimes feel slapped in the face. Some agents might wonder what is wrong with themselves -- what can they fix? Others might wonder what is wrong with the client. Why is the client so stupid? Then, there are agents like me who don't care because it's not important.

Why isn't it important to know? Because it doesn't matter. Because every client is different. I'd say 90% of the time, when a client drops an agent or chooses to work with a different agent than the first agent called, it's because of circumstances outside of that agent's control. Here are some of the reasons clients might not call back or may choose to list with some other agent:

  • Co-Buyer or Co-Seller had already made contact with a different agent
  • Client was at the grocery store and ran into an old friend who just got her real estate license
  • Client stopped at a real estate office and met a very eager agent
  • Client called a listing agent who ran over to show a home and wrote the offer
  • Client wandered into a new subdivision and builder's agent sold the home
  • Client talked to co-worker who suggested client call a discount broker
  • Client was interviewing agents and chose the cheaper agent
  • Client's mother / father / cousin had used a different agent in the past and asked that agent to call
  • Client spotted a photo online and decided agent reminded her of her mother
  • Client read a blog by an agent who likes the same kind of books
  • Client lives on the same street as the new agent
  • Client goes to the same church as the new agent
  • Client's lawyer recommended a different agent
  • Client fell out of bed and on top of a newspaper advertisement touting another agent
  • Client went to YouTube and watched a video of an agent driving around town and liked her car

You see, I can go on and on with reasons, none of which has anything to do with the agent who was dumped or passed over. The truth is clients often work with the first agent they come into contact with. They use very little criteria when choosing an agent. Which is a shame, especially since many of us spend years gaining experience, taking continuing education classes, and developing our specialties to ensure superior service. But clients don't see any of that nor understand it.

I've had clients choose me because my last name is Jewish. Sole reason. No joke.

A few days ago I noticed a new listing that the wife had promised to me show up in MLS listed by another agent. Her reason for calling me in the first place was because the bank had suggested it, plus I am a certified HAFA short sale specialist. She had a HAFA short sale that was preapproved. The listing read: "approved short sale," which is unfortunately not the same thing as a preapproved HAFA and told me the agent they hired is not a Sacramento short sale agent much less a certified HAFA specialist. Too bad for those people. They made the wrong decision. I let it go.

I'm assertive but I don't pressure clients. I tell clients when they call that when they are ready to go on the market to call me back. I work at the client's convenience. Do I lose a few listings this way? Sure. I do. I leave the door wide open for another agent to slip through. But that's how I prefer to do business.

It matters not why a buyer or seller choose another agent. Don't waste valuable time focusing on that. Crap happens. Fix what you can fix and let go of what you can't. There is really nothing to be gained from the knowledge, unless it's why don't you take a daily shower, and in that case, maybe the agent should stop sleeping under the freeway. What matters is that an agent keeps clients happy and new business continues to arrive.

See: Switching Agents -- How Do I Change Agents?

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elizabeth weintraub



Weintraub and Wallace Realtors



Elizabeth Weintraub reviews




Elizabeth Weintraub is co-partner of Weintraub & Wallace Team of Top Producing Realtors, an author, home buying expert at The Balance, a Land Park resident, and a veteran real estate agent who specializes in older, classic homes in Land Park, Curtis Park, Midtown, Carmichael and East Sacramento, as well as tract homes in Elk Grove, Natomas, Roseville and Lincoln. Call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759. Put our combined 80 years of real estate experience to work for you. Broker-Associate at RE/MAX Gold. DRE License # 00697006.

Photo: Unless otherwise noted in this blog, the photo is copyrighted by Big Stock Photo and used with permission.The views expressed herein are Weintraub's personal views and do not reflect the views of RE/MAX Gold. Disclaimer: If this post contains a listing, information is deemed reliable as of the date it was written. After that date, the listing may be sold, listed by another brokerage, canceled, pending or taken temporarily off the market, and the price could change without notice; it could blow up, explode or vanish. To find out the present status of any listing, please go to


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Debbie J. Webb
Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, Inc. - Destin, FL
Broker Associate


Great blog, very interesting and so true! 

I work the same way, assertive, but no pressure, and 99.9% of the time it's at the customers's convenience.


Mar 27, 2011 01:04 AM #61
Teresa Tedder
Carolina Realty of Wilkes Inc - Wilkesboro, NC

I completely agree.  I have wondered a few times why a client chose another agent but in the end Id rather spend my time helping the clients that did choose me by making their experience as smooth and pleasant as possible.  I cant have ALL the listings and sometimes I have to remind myself of that.  I have asked in a few circumstances why another agent was chosen and was told "because she doesnt have many listings and I felt she would give me more attention" and "she is related to my family so I felt obligated" and other things of the like. 

I give all attempts 100% and give complete honesty......if it doesnt work out then I wish the "chosen" agent the best and keep on truckin!!



Mar 27, 2011 01:12 AM #62
Coral Gundlach
Compass - Arlington, VA
Real Lives. Not Just Real Estate.

Elizabeth - this is such a great perspecitve on this subject.  I am one who always wants to know how to improve.  I recently asked sellers who picked another agent over me and it was because I did not have enough experience in their neighborhood/niche.  I had an active listing in their community and a sold on in the fall and 3-4 more in preceding years.  Who did they hire?  The local giant who does 100 transactions a year.  That's not me, never will be.  Knowing they'd hired Mr. Giant, didn't really help me improve at all!

Mar 27, 2011 01:57 AM #63
Dawn Maloney
RE/MAX Trinity Northeast Ohio Real Estate Specialist - Hudson, OH
330-990-4236 Hudson & Northeastern Ohio

LOVE the list of how can a seller ever be honest and tell you one of those reasons? They know it will sound silly and irrational, but it truly is their reason, even it it is not reasonable. I try not to second guess, but truthfully, I do love to know. Sometimes I ask, and sometimes I am told...but when it comes down to brass is up to the seller, and they have that right, regardless of the rationale.

Mar 27, 2011 02:20 AM #64
Melissa Zavala
Broadpoint Properties - Escondido, CA
Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County

I am raising a glass to this post which is all about leaving gloom and doom at the front door and moving forward. Awesome!

Mar 27, 2011 03:05 AM #65
Kevin Kueneke
Caliber Home Loans - Encinitas, CA
San Diego Mortgage Banker

I admit that I always want to know why I didn't get the deal, sometimes harder than others to let go.  Great post!

Mar 27, 2011 03:27 AM #66
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

If we spend too much time on "why I didn't get the listing or buyer,"  we are taking time away from marketing and our loyal clients!

Mar 27, 2011 03:38 AM #67
Tni LeBlanc, Realtor®, J.D.
Mint Properties, Lic. #01871795 - Santa Maria, CA
Tenacious Tni (805) 878-9879
Thanks for writing this Elizabeth I really needed to read it today. We've all seen, heard about, or experienced any one of those things if we've been in the business long enough. Although I will never understand the buyer who thinks it's alright to drop an agent who they've been working with for months right before they write a decent offer -- I do understand it is a part of our business. Use BBAs if it's just too difficult for you to deal with.
Mar 27, 2011 04:36 AM #68
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

Hey Tammy #54: You don't always have to agree with me, you know. We're all different, and that's OK. I love you anyway, girlfriend!

Hi Tni: BBAs -- I don't write an offer without a BBA.

I think the thing is buyers don't know that dropping us takes away our paycheck. That's how agents look at it, if you're being 100% honest. It's like they helped themselves to a big pile of cash sitting in our checking account. And then they throw a whipped-cream pie at our head.

But it's part of the price we pay for putting ourselves out there as agents. Sometimes we get rejected. Big hairy deal. Spittooey.

Mar 27, 2011 04:49 AM #69
Joyce Herr
Prudential Lancaster Real Estate - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster County & Beyond

Thank you for the post. It really doesn't matter and time to move on.

Mar 27, 2011 06:42 AM #71
Rita Fong
RE/MAX REAL ESTATE TODAY, Executive Broker 901-488-9590 - Marion, AR
Realtor - Marion Arkansas Homes for Sale

Elizabeth, I used to let it bother me when I first started, I didn't know any better.  I eventually learn that as long as I have done all my best, also understand sometimes it is a blessing in disguise.  I focus my energy in getting new business instead, and it works much better that way.  New agents should read this post, it will help many of them.

Mar 27, 2011 07:17 AM #72
Leslie Ebersole
Swanepoel T3 Group - Saint Charles, IL
I help brokers build businesses they love.

I had a new one this week: after what I thought was a tentative "yes" and was scheduled to bring in the stager, the seller called to say "All things being equal between you and Agent Who is a Neighbor we have decided to go with her. It was a really hard decision but (a) she said I watched enough hgtv to stage my house myself and (b) she will take the dogs out for showings."

Laugh or cry? What a business!

Mar 27, 2011 08:18 AM #73
Mike Cooper, GRI
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro

Thanks, Elizabeth.  This was a nice reminder not to take things personally.   I haven't had this happen, but if you're in the business long enough it is likely to happen.  Good stuff!  Thanks for posting.

Mar 27, 2011 08:37 AM #74
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

It may or may not matter. However, it stings like a jellyfish that has been around for a while and doesn't like to be touched. It is an major oweee

Mar 27, 2011 09:31 AM #75
Maria Couto
RE/MAX Premier - Berkeley Heights, NJ
Realtor with "Results That "MOVE" You'

I so agree with you. And you're absolutely right. It happens to all of us at one time or another. If I know I've done what I am suppose to, I don't worry. They just may not have liked my hair color. I've been in long enough not to take it personally, or think that I'm automatically at fault. Good Post.

Mar 27, 2011 10:11 AM #76
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

You can say it does not matter why you did or did not but it does. Sure there are the flukes you get and ones that you were certain of that you don't for listings. But on the majority of them that you do, or don't, if you see a pattern, you need to know about it. If 50% of the time you lost out because "you did not get back to us in time" then you can change that. If you don't know you could get bitter or not care. I just want more market share than others in my market get and to do that I need to know how I lost one. No emotion of anger, just shot I missed. I want to improve my real estate handicap. It is a sport, passion, affliction from wearing the "R" so long. As for buyer rep, we do both sides on 95% of our deals so never have that you start and then dismissed situations. If you have the listings, you are dominating the real estate game.

Mar 27, 2011 11:44 AM #77
Vicki Workman
Keller Williams Consultants Realty - Marysville, OH

IMHO it goes with the territory. We are in a competitive business. Have thick skin, do not burn bridges, hold grudges or take it personally. From time to time there will be sting, it is the risk we take in this industry. Let it go.  Spend your time thinking about how you can do better, not worrying about what your competition is doing.  Opportunity is knocking elsewhere, answer the door!

Mar 27, 2011 11:54 PM #78
Carla Wade
Charlotte, NC

I say if you don't want to work with me I don't want to work with you! 

Chances are if they left you for another agent they will leave that agent too or they already have several agents.

Choose your battles wisely.

Mar 28, 2011 04:43 AM #79
Morris Massre
Pembroke Pines, FL
Real Estate Instructor Broward County Florida

I hear you, but I think it's important to know so that you can correct what you might have done wrong or not done at all.

Mar 28, 2011 05:52 AM #80
Fred Carver Personal Real Estate Corporation
RE/MAX Camosun Victoria BC Real Estate - Victoria, BC
Accredited Real Estate Consultant

Hi Elizabeth..Congratulations on your feature post. Just to add to your list Sometimes people change their mind about Buying and make up a story..Like you say move on.


Apr 01, 2011 04:35 PM #81
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