Recognizing A Losing Battle

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 SAL.2002007747

checkmateWhen I was a new real estate agent, I'd pursue any potential client as far as I could.  Hours invested in the hope that SOMETHING good would come out of it.  I didn't always ask the right questions up front, nor recognize the subtle clues that would have warned me that I was entering a pit of wasted time and effort.

Flash forward years later and I'm not the same agent I was then.  I've come to recognize that my primary offering to every client is twofold:

1. My time/effort

2. My expertise.

Now a home buyer or seller can always find an agent to give them time.  There are thousands of us in my market.  I recognize the warning signs when someone just wants a door opener and not an agent, and I know it's time to move on.  Another agent will happily open doors and roll the dice that something good will happen.  That's just the nature of our business.

But that second part I offer.  My expertise?  Especially when it comes to what I know about patio homes and other low maintenance living options in Greater Cincinnati?  That's not easily replaced.  I've spent years learning the details of where they are, how much they cost, who is building them, the pros and cons of each community.  That's priceless stuff if you're a buyer wanting to get the best fit and the best deal for a huge financial investment.

But sometimes I can't win the perception battle.  A buyer might find a patio home community blog post from 2013 and be interested in the community.  That buyer might have the belief that they'll get a better deal WITHOUT an agent if they go straight to the builder.  And that buyer might refuse to believe anything I tell them about how that's not the case.  I'll push back a bit, attempt to educate, but it's usually easy to tell if there's a prayer of getting that buyer to see the light...or not.

And if it's a "not", it's checkmate and I'll cease the effort.  Time to work on finding the next client, the one that actually values both my time AND my expertise.  And if the buyer that didn't listen initially sees the light later, they know where to find me.  I'll still be happy to help.



Serving Greater Cincinnati patio home buyers and sellers,

Bill of Liz and Bill aka BLiz



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Serving Warren County Ohio & Adjacent Areas


The Liz Spear Team of RE/MAX Elite
Elizabeth Spear, ABR, CRS, Ohio License SAL.2002007747

William (Bill) Spear, CRS, Ohio License SAL.2004011109  Kentucky 77938
Ask for us by name if you visit the office!

EHO Two locations: Lebanon & Mason, OH
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Liz Direct: 513-265-3004     
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Bruce Kunz
C21 Solid Gold Realty, Brick, NJ, 732-920-2100 - Howell, NJ
REALTOR®, Brick & Howell NJ Homes for Sale

Thanks for sharing, Liz and Bill Spear. I definitely can relate to this and have to admit I still sometimes fall into 'the trap'. Although it can be hard to know when to end, it usually feels right when the time does come . As you mentioned, they can always come  back when they realize our value.


Mar 22, 2018 06:47 PM #21
Lisa Von Domek
Lisa Von Domek Team - Dallas, TX
....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless!

Expertise and wisdom always win the day Liz and Bill Spear like the old saying goes "work smarter, not harder"'ve got that down pat!

Mar 22, 2018 06:48 PM #22
Jeanne Gregory
RE/MAX Southwest - Sugar Land, TX
The most important home I sell is YOURS!

Some will, some won't, so what? Next! 

Mar 22, 2018 07:02 PM #23
Corey Martin
Martin Presence Group - Ruston, LA
Real Estate and Management Solutions

This is another great post. Fantastic. Do not waste your time and do not let others waste your time. Time is a finite resource for everyone and we much optimise our use of it, just like with every other resource. Thank you for sharing!

Mar 22, 2018 07:53 PM #24
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

Sometimes they do come back after "seeing the light".  Feels really good when you make that transition to know when to cut and move on.  Took me years to get there.

Mar 22, 2018 08:09 PM #25
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

We learn from our mistakes and it's all good. But it sure is a time saver to know when to quit.

Mar 22, 2018 10:38 PM #26
Charles Vasels
Corona, CA

Im going to wedge in a whole different angle.

Notwithstanding that real estate is a numbers game in which X percentage of transactions will be gained and lost due to forces you know or dont know, is the gaining of business the main priority? On MY first day, I thought it was. It wasnt.

I became a broker in 1978. A year later, having felt the pains of trying to learn the business of an industry I had only studied the rules about, I met a broker who forever changed everything for my approach. You might think im about to make comments about systems or altruism but im more down to earth than heady things we are always taught to aspire to. He said, you have to suffer hard at the beginning, not to gain customers but to learn what real estate and the way of land is really about so that you use the knowledge to go do it for yourself.

I overlayed that comment with something my father, a land developer in the ski business, said to discourage me from my plans, that the only money an agent has is whats left over from his last commission.

Honestly, I didnt take kindly to either statement. Forty years ago, as a kid, I had no history or perspective from which to derive satisfaction from either one but, as a kid, I only knew I didnt like being told what to do or having someone plan or lay out my life for me.

But they stuck with me anyway. Down the road, I saw that the first statement created the potential for wealth while the second one created the potential for poverty, and I'll tell you that anytime in my career that i veered towards one, things got better; when I veered towards the other, things got worse.

I positioned the statements to mix in with what we learned in our book studies: Under all is the land, and, what is the land's highest and best use? Now I had some useful tools but I needed one thing to get them to do work. I had to look in the mirror and ask, if im going to make a career in this, whats my highest and best use?

If you can look at blank dirt or a structure and see the kind of  blossoms growing out of it that others cant see, and are willing to do something about it, you are getting closer to your highest best use and the money you seek will all take care of itself.

Why should simply earning a commission on a transaction therefore not be enough? I think, its just my opinion, people in this industry have a duty, not to churn a bad property over and over again, but to use knowledge to advance what is good, useful, beautiful and valuable on the landscape. Realtors are at the front of this to educate and help others see it, but also and mainly to get a hold of this and lead. Lead by doing, by building, what is going to be left behind them.

Thinking back forty years, I think thats what the statements meant. What they didnt mean was a plan to get more or higher quality customers, and it was never said because to the men making the statements that wasnt the part that mattered.

Thank you for reading and for your time. That part does matter.

Mar 22, 2018 10:39 PM #27
Eva B. Liland with Century 21 Doug Anderson
Century 21 Doug Anderson - Lancaster, CA
Glad to be of Service

Anybody that calls me have some kind of interest to buy and I can usually within the first 5 minutes find out if they qualify or not. Every day I try to do my best and there is only so many minutes in a day. When I need to let them know, I let them figure it out by themselves that they can still buy in the future if they follow my advise.

Mar 22, 2018 11:23 PM #28
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I went through that "newbie" nonsense twice. First when I started in real estate and again when I started in copywriting. Every now and then someone still "fools me," but thankfully not often.

Mar 22, 2018 11:53 PM #29
Dee davey

Buyers have remarkable opportunities to get trained experienced advice For FREE! I am amazed they don’t recognize that. But for me I do sometimes fail in being very direct

Mar 23, 2018 04:06 AM #30
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Being vigilant is the way to go. Those animals who all have to visit with the local watering hold do so but with all their senses on high alert. 

Mar 23, 2018 06:36 AM #31
Bruce Minter
James & Lee Realty - Virginia Beach, VA
One on one - Every step of the way!

Highest and best use. A lot more to that statement than meets the eye.

I received a referral from a financial institution that handles bridge loans for seniors moving to assisted living. I went out on the listing and it was almost heartbreaking their personal status and the condition of the home. These folks needed help and should have gotten it years ago. The home was a tear down and their living conditions inside deplorable. 

The property had a second lot alogside. I listed the property and advertised it as a tear down and build new on the lot and possibly two new homes on the lot. A local builder who does spot building in town called and said the lot would support two homes about 4' total shy of meeting the minimum lot width for two. He said he couldn't make a go of doing just one at the listed price. We talked several times over the next couple weeks and he learned of the conditions of the home which were obvious but also learned of the medical issues facing the sellers and their desperate need to get into assisted living with a safe, clean living environment. Fortunately this developer had a heart and a concern for these folks that he put above the $. He made an offer on the property and said he would attempt to get a variance for two but if he couldn't he'd just do the one. We countered for an additional 5K and he accepted because he really had developed a heart for the plight of these folks. Again he put them ahead of his need for personal gain.

Fast forward, he got the variance to build two. The couple are thriving in assisted living and the community now has two new homes instead of an unsafe eyesore. I'd say that's the highest and best use of the land.  


Mar 23, 2018 08:20 AM #32
Bill Dean
Haggerty Team St. Louis, Mo. - Fenton, MO
William Dean - Broker, Salesperson

It took me years to stop being the "nice guy" who would work with anyone.

The strangest one and probably the first client I turned down was a lady who stated "But you have to list my house---IT"S YOUR JOB! "   It took about 10 minutes of explaining to her, before I walked away not sure if she ever understood it.


Mar 23, 2018 09:17 AM #33
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Bliz, when I read this post I had a picture come to mind.

It was a coon dog that got a scent of a coon and went barking form miles chasing a coon. Finally, the dog stops and just barks up the tree.

I have seen agents just like that coon dog. Chase after the cent of a deal only to end up barking up a tree.

I think you are so right, we need to choose better.


Mar 23, 2018 11:45 AM #34
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Unfortunately, I've also experienced, " That buyer might have the belief that they'll get a better deal WITHOUT an agent if they go straight to the builder."

Mar 23, 2018 02:32 PM #35
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of Manchester NH's Leading Agents

I used to work with anyone and everyone and it did take learning the hard way that it was not a good business choice and certainly not for morale. I have a set a questions i use and embedded in my head follow up questions. I do find many buyers who are not pre qualifed yet, who have an agent and say no but really do they are just unable to show them right then and there. 

Mar 23, 2018 03:42 PM #36
Brenda Mullen
RE/MAX Access - Schertz, TX
Your San Antonio TX Real Estate Agent!!

Hard lessons learned in my early days about when I found out when someone I pursued was NOT a buyer.  Lots of wasted time and effort.   Now, almost 11 years into it, I drop those quickly and move on to those who I know will appreciate my time and expertise.  

Mar 24, 2018 04:31 PM #37
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Knowing when to cut ties is the key. Especially whe you have opened too many doors and made a lowball offer or two which shows who the buyer really is. I understand why agents want to wait it out and roll the dice, after all, eventually they might buy a home. But I have learned to ask myself the true “cost”. If I am spending too much time and energy on a “dead end”, I don’t have time for the buyers that really are ready to buy and value my expertise. Great post

Mar 24, 2018 06:56 PM #38
Cathy Starkweather
La Rosa Realty, LLC. - Celebration, FL

Sometimes you just have to cut the ties or refer them to someone else.

Mar 25, 2018 01:29 PM #39
Anne Corbin
Long and Foster - Lake Anna - Spotsylvania, VA
Serving Lake Anna & Central Virginia

Hmm....loving this banter. If only we could charge like attorneys do with a retainer fee and an hourly rate. Who ever came up with a commission based system where we only get paid at closing? Make him walk the plank...ARGH!

Mar 26, 2018 06:54 AM #40
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