The Day My Seller Taught Me A Lesson

Real Estate Agent with Las Cruces Homes and Land

(Rather fitting for a Thankful Thursday)

We sit in our real estate world 24/7. We live and breathe (and sometimes dream) contracts and inspections and home warranties and walk thrus and...and...and...

How often do we sit back and think about that person on the other side of the table? You know - the one we just dumped ten thousand pieces of paper on? We do our absolute best to explain every paragraph, timeline, legal statement and concept. And, once we do that, we move onto our marketing and everything else we need to do to get that house SOLD.

Yesterday, I learned a very valuable lesson and I'm sharing so that maybe it might be a teaching moment from one of you.

I have a home listed for sale. The owner is a sweet woman who is very particular about how she learns new information. She likes to have things in her hands so that she can go over every line, make her notes and ask questions. Our listing contract and seller disclosure was covered pretty good with sticky notes. That's fine with me. Id much rather have someone ask questions than just go with the flow and not understand something.

We went over a lot of the forms in depth. We talked about offering a home warranty which she decided to do because of the seller's coverage. Our lines of communication got a little mixed up and I had to say mea culpa. I "ASSUMED" that she understood that we needed to order the warranty before getting a contract. She did not. Getting that seller coverage was very important to her. Thankfully, we were able to get it in place while we are under contract with the company that the buyers chose.

Suffice to say we had a tense conversation yesterday morning about that. I was convinced that I had explained it thoroughly to her. I remembered sitting at her table, explaining things. She had the brochures in her hands!! We talked about the different packages!! I told you!! I know I did!!!


I had to take a step back. OK, so we did sit at her table and we did go over it all. Big deal. If she didn't understand how it worked, it wasn't her fault. IT.WAS.MINE. 

I didn't do my job correctly. That's all there was to it. I called, apologized and told her, "You know, there are times that I get so caught up in my little real estate world that I just assume my clients understand things the first time around and for that, I'm sorry."

Lesson learned. I will be, from now on, double and triple checking to make sure my clients understand from the get go and confirming along the way that they are still clear on topics. I had to eat a little of my pride yesterday but it was worth it.

Comments (19)

Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

We are always learning...and well done, you, that you stepped to the plate, owned it, and moved on to better days.

Jul 09, 2015 06:11 AM
Cindy Jones
Integrity Real Estate Group - Woodbridge, VA
Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News

Had a conversation with a buyer's agent today where I thought we were all on the same page about something in the home.  Turns out we weren't.  The world won't end but a reminder to make sure we document everything we agree to.

Jul 09, 2015 06:17 AM
Jane Peters
Home Jane Realty - Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles real estate concierge services

We learn something new with every deal. Every other client of yours will be sure to understand this part of the contract and others. 

Jul 09, 2015 07:58 AM
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

Emmary, this is the stuff great agents are made of.  when you can take an experience and learn to be a better agent for future clients you are a great agent. It's so easy for those of us in the business to forget that the language we use and things we know we have to simplify to make sure our clients know. Exactly like you said we eat, sleep, breathe real estate... our clients do not.

Jul 09, 2015 09:55 AM
Bill Reddington
Re/max By The Sea - Destin, FL
Destin Florida Real Estate

Used to be owner coverage was free for first 6 months. Don't sell that many warrantys. Might be different now. You just explain the best you can.

Jul 09, 2015 09:59 AM
Fred Griffin Tallahassee Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

     The paperwork, the clauses, the documentation is second-nature to us.  But the Buyers and Sellers often glaze over while looking at it... or maybe they appear to understand (like your sweet lady), but they don't.

     Good job of recovering, and getting the Warranty.

Jul 09, 2015 11:00 AM
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

Glad that you realized the seller needed a bit more information.  

Jul 09, 2015 01:14 PM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

When I first got into this business I had a mentor who taught me that it is my fault if someone does not hear or understand me. We may not always think that is true but if we take responsibility for reaching a clear understanding with our conversational partners – whether in business or in our personal lives – we will be better off.

Jul 09, 2015 01:25 PM
Claude Labbe
Real Living | At Home - Washington, DC
Realty for Your Busy Life

Exactly.  It's happened to all of us, and if we don't acknowledge that, then we are being fools.

Surely, it will happen to me again, the only thing I can do it try my best to ensure it doesn't happen for a long time.  But yes, at some point, I will miss a connection and fail to realize my people, my colleagues, my vendors aren't right along with me.

Jul 09, 2015 01:34 PM
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Emmary Simpson - now that's one reason why I'd like to have everything in writing!

Jul 09, 2015 02:16 PM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

It is interesting to note that when I sometimes have to repeat something because I believe it didn't land, some find it condescending. Bottom is the responsibility of the communicator to be it

Jul 09, 2015 11:23 PM
Thomas F. Scanlon
Borgida & Company P. C., CPA's - Manchester, CT

Emmary Simpson - Well done. We all know what happens when we assume something. Excellent job of stepping up and admitting there was miscommunication. People communicate in different ways. Hearing, seeing and 'hands on.' We need to adapt our presentation to their primary method.



Jul 09, 2015 11:42 PM
Carol Lynn Johnson
Re/Max Elite Realty - Franklin, NC
Residential Specialist

Years ago I too learned a valuable lesson.  If you make a mistake, admit it.  99% of the time, the other person involved is understanding - knowing that everyone occasionally makes a mistake.  I feel that over the years my clients respect me more, because they trust me.  If I make a mistake I admit it and do everything I can to fix it. 

Jul 10, 2015 12:53 AM
Lynn B. Friedman CRS Atlanta GA 404-939-2727
Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty - Buckhead - Midtown - Westside ... Love our City - Love our Clients! - Atlanta, GA
Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers

What a great idea --- taking responsibility for what we explain to our Clients. I really enjoyed your post. Thanks -  Lynn

Jul 10, 2015 02:43 AM
Richard Arnold
Keller Williams Realty East Valley - Tempe, AZ
Realtor - Tempe, Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert, Phoenix

Beyond all the meetings, explanations, brochures, and paperwork ... we must open our EARS and MINDS to what the client is telling us.

"I do not understand"  vs. "You did not tell me."

Just as for each contract there is Offer AND Acceptance, between agents and clients there are Explanations AND Understanding.

Jul 10, 2015 03:23 AM
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation

A few years back, I noticed how nervous a young couple was at our first meeting and I asked them right up front what their concerns were about the new adventure we were about to start. After I heard their concerns, I realized that they were not unlike my concerns sitting in the waiting room of a dentist. From that day forward, I've begun most "first" appointments with that question. It really does help me know what reassurances and focus need to be part of every subsequent meeting.

Jul 10, 2015 04:16 AM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

Allow time for questions especially new comers....That works with cocky realtors wanting to put down inexperienced agents.


Sam Shueh

Jul 10, 2015 08:54 AM
James (Jim) Lawson, DBA LLC - Bonita Springs, FL
Broker Associate, RSPS, BPOR, HI & PE

Your points are well taken Emmary. It's not just paperwork and certainly not theater.

After reviewing each paragraph I ask if there is anything in the paragraph that is not understood. Any misunderstandings are cleared up before moving on. This approach makes the initials at the bottom of each page meaningful. 

Jul 10, 2015 02:04 PM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate

It takes a big person to own what you did. I always take responsibility when things go not according to plan and/or if things are misunderstood. Blame and fault finding gets us nowhere. We need to be the solution.  You became the solution. You lost nothing and hopefully gained her respect.

Jul 11, 2015 06:41 AM

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