Have You Ever Fired A Client?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with KEAP Real Estate BRE# 01912137

In any type of business, it is not recommended to fire your clients.  Mixing personal feelings with business practices is not an indication of a professionalism, but does this mean that you have to take anything your client gives you?


My answer to that is a strong "NO!"  I would highly advise that you do your best to keep your personal feelings apart from your business practices and to give your clients a reasonable doubt. However, some clients might take advantage of your kindness, patience, and professionalism by continuously showing bully-like attitude and personality.  Do your best to communicate with your clients in the most respectful manner informing them about how you feel regarding their behavior and attitude.  But when ALL else fails, I highly suggest firing them.


There are 5 main reasons why you should consider firing your client:


1. Lack of Respect: Although you might work very hard to show respect and to keep your client's best interest in mind, sometimes the respect might not be mutual.  Some clients who disrespect their professionals and get away with it take it as a sign of weakness and their bully-like behavior continues to become worse and worse on daily bases.  In any professional setting, respect should be given and received; otherwise, it becomes a hostile environment to work in.  So what you do is you communicate with your client, respectfully, letting them know that you would be glad to cancel your agreement with them and that you wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors. 


2. Unreasonable Demands: Some clients think that just because they hired a REALTOR, they can get EVERYTHING they want.  Well, let me break the news to you.  We don't always get what we want.  Sometimes your clients might want to sell their home 15%-20% above market value and will demand that you help them with it.  When you fail to sell their home, they might start complaining about how bad of a REALTOR you are for not being able to sell their home in this "hot"market. 


If it is a buyer client, sometimes they might demand "credit towards repairs" way higher than a "reasonable" amount.  When you don't deliver, they start complaining about how bad of a negotiator you are.

And other times, you might have clients who demand from you to pick up your phone at late night hours or super early morning hours.  Yes! Customer service is a very highly regarded skill to have as a REALTOR and we should all do our best to respond to emails and phone calls within "reasonable" time, but this doesn't mean that we don't have a life and that we are sitting and waiting for our clients' calls 24/7.

Another example of an unreasonable demand from clients is when they demand from you to find them their dream home with lots of living space, cosmetic improvements, pool, spa, in a great neighborhood but only want to pay the price of a 1 bedroom condo in a not-so-attractive neighborhood.


3. Abusive Behavior: You might not realize this, but some clients can get very abusive during the duration of your representation.  Some people just don't know how to control their anger and their emotions.  Clients are mainly verbally abusive.  I know that it is important to do our best to work things out with our clients, but we have a to draw a line somewhere.  What do you do when your clients start calling you names?  Do you smile at their faces and then go find a shoulder to cry on? Or do you stand up for yourself in the most respectful way?

When you feel as though your clients are abusive, it should be an indication that you should fire them and move on. 


4. Lack of Integrity/Violation of Code of Ethics: This one is my favorite only because I am approached by many who think it is okay to do unethical and illegal things to reach their goals.  Your clients might ask you to do things that are unethical or even illegal.  Trust me when I say this.  The commission you are going to make out of that sale is not worth the risk associated with unethical conduct.  When clients approach me with such unethical requests, I tell them two things: 1) As a REALTOR, I am bound by Code of Ethics and cannot practice real estate in a way that you are asking me to do so.  As a human being, I am bound by the laws of the universe and refuse to cloud my conscious. 2) Perhaps it is best that we part ways.  


5. Demand to Act as An Attorney, Accountant, etc: Some clients might come to you with questions about title, real estate law, taxes, and even will start sharing their family related personal issues. 

I had a client recently who would call me for EVERY question she had related to real estate sales process AND would demand that I give her my professional advice on matters such as saving money on profit taxes, trust vs. trustee legal issues, Power of Attorney questions, remodeling advice, etc... Even though I am knowledgeable with these topics, I am not an expert nor am I licensed to give professional advice.  As a matter of fact, in the state of CA (I am assuming that similar laws are intact in other states as well), it is illegal to do so. When I told this to my client, she became very frustrated with me and started showing "Bully-like" behavior towards me.  I didn't fire her, but I did communicate with her how her behavior made me feel AND I referred her to plenty of professionals who are licensed in those areas.  If she continued with her demands, I would probably fire her.


In a nut shell, as REALTORS, we should do our best to keep our clients, to assist them, to keep their best interests in mind, and to keep personality separate from professionalism, but when push comes to shove, we HAVE to fire our clients whether it be to keep us away from facing legal consequences or to keep our sanity.  After all, we are human beings too and we deserve to be treated as such.  Yes, our clients are our inventories and this is how we make money, but money should NEVER dictate us how we should live our lives.  If we lose ourselves in our careers because of money or material gain, then what purpose will we have? Who will we become? And can we look at ourselves in the mirror and feel good about who we have become?


In my 14 years of property management and 3 years of real estate sales experience, I had to fire only one client.  He was abusive, very demanding, and very unethical.  After I fired him, it felt great! 



Photo credit goes to: http://blog.obiefernandez.com

Comments (1)

Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

The last client I fired was a mean old lady who was disrespectiful, abusive - basically all of the above.  I found out a few months later that she'd be diagnosed with Alzheimers, and her actions were totally consistent with the not all that early stages of the disease.  I felt pretty crummy because I'd known and liked her for years.  Somethimes it's not all that simple.

May 18, 2016 07:26 AM
Amy Palian

Yes, I agree.  It is unfortunate that there are such horrible diseases out there.  My mother is suffering from dementia now and her personality has shifted 180 degrees due to it.  But when you think about it, any contract signed by an individual who is not in their right state of mind is considered null and void.  You are correct, it is not that simple and there is definitely no black and white in our line of work.  There are many gray areas which we need to use our best judgment to make decisions on, but it needs to be done.  And when firing a client, we don't necessarily need to be mean or rude.  The only client I fired, I showed respect even though he was very rude, abusive, and always found ways to take advantage of my patience. 

May 18, 2016 07:34 AM

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