The importance of setting realistic expectations

Real Estate Broker/Owner

It is very important to set realistic expectations for your clients.

There’s a saying, “You know what you know, you know what you don’t know, and you don’t know what you don’t know.”  It’s basic really, I know that I know how to ride a motorcycle, I also know that I don’t know how to fly an airplane, and then there are things that I don’t know that I don’t know, but will learn when the situation presents itself.  I’m also not perfect, don’t tell my wife, and in this post I admit to making mistakes in the past, but the important thing is learning from our mistakes and the mistakes of others so that we can all be better in the future. 

When I first started working in the real estate business I learned on the fly, I had a great management team with decades of combined experience who brought in outside training specialists and I got a very fast education.  Because of this training and the experienced professionals around me I was able to anticipate problems before they arose, saving me and my client’s potential heart ache. 

It is very important to set realistic expectations for your clients.  I’ve been helping people get loans for over 7 years and I’ve seen qualifying and underwriting standards go from very lax to extremely tight and over the top.  Back in the beginning of my career it was very easy to anticipate any problems that might arise during the loan process and I was happy to prepare my clients for these problems, but as standards changed it became more difficult to see ahead.  I can remember one specific instance where I dropped the ball and failed to prepare my client for what lay ahead.  We were able to work around the problem and closed the loan, however, at the end of the process my client didn’t go away with the upbeat and happy feeling I strive to convey, and as a result I lost any future business from this person.  I’ve also had things come up that were impossible to predict like a lender changing program guidelines in the middle of the process, killing the deal as a result.  Here again, the client wasn’t happy, but understood that it wasn’t my fault and the relationship is still strong today.  What did I learn from these experiences?  I learned that it’s important to set realistic expectations for the client from the very beginning.    

We have problems that can be foreseen based on our experiences and the experiences of others that we can draw upon.  We also have problems that we can’t anticipate because we don’t know what we don’t know.  What I tell prospective clients now is that there are things which I can anticipate with their particular situation, laying these out in detail for the client up front so that we’re all on the same page.  I also tell my clients that as a result of the ever changing environment in real estate lending they should be prepared to go through things that they’ve never had to do in the past in order to get the loan done.  Everything may go smoothly, but it may not, it may go sideways very quickly.  Since I began preparing my clients and setting realistic expectations up from the very beginning I’ve never had anybody going away feeling like I underserved them.  My clients are grateful and appreciative that I speak with candor, and if everything goes well then I’ve under promised and over performed, and this is what every good broker should strive to do.  In summary, we can’t predict everything that will happen in a transaction, but we can do is learn from our experiences and the experiences of others.  We can draw upon this knowledge base and set realistic expectations for our clients from the beginning.  I guarantee that if you do this you’ll turn more clients into closed business and future referrals.  Thanks for reading.


Some links that will help with managing, and setting realistic expectations for clients:

Posted by

Jesse Gonzalez, Broker



Comments (2)

Rick Irving
My Texas Home Real Estate - Fort Worth, TX
Rick Irving Knows Real Estate

Some good thoughts! It is always good to have someone in your corner that is ready to head off problems at the pass.


Nov 15, 2011 03:51 AM
Jennifer Moran Foland
Keller Williams Realty Las Vegas - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Homes, For Sale Summerlin NV

I agree, setting expectations is so important especially in today's market.

Nov 15, 2011 04:06 AM