Five Toxic Customer Types

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Providence Group Realty TREC# 0608931

In sales, the name of the game is volume. When you're starting out, it's difficult to say no to anyone; however, experience teaches us the opportunity cost of working with folks that suck our time, energy and resources away from productive activity. Here are five types of customers to decline. 

It is a mistake to… 

  • try to help someone who thinks they are doing you a favor by hiring you. They will take you for granted, lack appreciation for your knowledge, and treat your relationship as disposable. The worst part is that they will mess around and make you a spectator to poor results, by either being slow to implement or failing to follow your professional advice altogether -- up until the point they replace you, attributing credit for your original ideas to either themselves or your replacement.  Also, know you cannot "win" with this type of consumer by serving them on a referral basis either. When a customer has you painted in the favor category, everything you offer them will be devalued, minimized, and ultimately fruitless. 
  • work with someone who doesn't respect you, whether by statement against your profession in general or by something against you personally (i.e., your political beliefs, your educational background, your ethnicity, your level of experience, your gender, your faith, your family status, etc…). Don't betray yourself for money. You're worth more than that. 

  • represent someone who thinks the rules don't apply to them. Folks who have built a life by getting over on others don't care about the damage they cause along the way. They only care about themselves and getting what they want. You can't be willing to compromise your business reputation by letting your good name shield someone else's shady character, laziness, and poor decisions. 

  • maintain a business relationship with someone who constantly thinks the worst of you. When what seems like simple miscommunication at first turns into repeated misunderstandings about intent or message, recognize that there is a larger battle being waged in the background. The misalignment isn't easily adjusted through clarification or relationship building because the disconnect is rooted in ego & emotional dysfunction, which is something you are not going to be able to fix. Part company before the relationship completely degrades.

  • engage someone who constantly asks for advice or a second opinion, but won't give you their business. Their loyalties reside elsewhere, and their "use" of your services is limited to your willingness to dish for free. This is an abuse of your time, talents and resources. Redirect them instead to the professional(s) they patronize, or let your free advice be to consider making a change if they lack confidence in their relationship of choice.

Remember, time is your most precious resource. Spend it wisely.


Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Ginger Harper 05/31/2018 05:01 AM
  2. Michelle Carr Crowe,Altas Just Call...408-252-8900! 06/05/2018 12:56 PM
Real Estate Sales and Marketing
Texas Collin County Plano
Bartender, Make it a Double
What's Got Your Goat?
Texas Independent Broker Network
best practices
opportunity cost
toxic customer types
declining client relationships

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Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Hi Amanda - congratulations on the feature - and the wealth of interesting comments your post has earned.  Our designated Broker talked us into taking a very prestigious listing from a local who has a reputation for being highly leveraged - and very egotistical. We reluctantly agreed - but recently severed the relationship.  Being around this individual was horrible - and the energy he attracts is quite negative. Once we said enough, it's as if the sky opened up again. D  

May 31, 2018 11:17 AM #48
Chris Lima
Atlantic Shores Realty Expertise - Port St Lucie, FL
Local or Global-Allow me to open doors for you.

Very good advice, Amanda. I enjoyed reading the comments as well as the post. I am glad that this was featured.

May 31, 2018 11:28 AM #49
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

This is simply a brilliant post and shows incredible insight into toxic personalities. I know we've all been there and it seems almost to be a right of passage to learn to distinguish the one who is doing you a "favor" from the one who respects your business acumen. And, of course, the longer you're in the field, the easier it gets.

May 31, 2018 01:53 PM #50
Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886
Phoenix Property Shoppe - Phoenix, AZ
Arizona's Top Banana!

Amanda well done! And it's good to get the toxic side of the stories out there for agents or others that are needing some advice either right now, or to think about when they pop up against a toxic situation. I was referred a client that I chose to walk away from due to her being so toxic even her brother walked away.  There is simply no reason to work with people that are toxic, unrealistic and know it all. I honestly felt like I was on a Jerry Springer type show and that's when I closed my computer and said adios folks.

May 31, 2018 03:15 PM #51
Dick Stoner
Reist Corporation - Rockville, MD
Land Use specialist

Jeff Dowler,  CRS  you make a very strong point.  Other Realtors can exhibit these same traits - in our area commercial agents with a " Washington DC" attitude often act entitled to a commision before the work even starts. I have learned to spot the agent who is good at wrecking their own clients plans by forcing their egos in front of the transaction. These things are very different than missing skill sets, which we often run into.   We all have something to learn but be honest about what you know and don't know and the transaction will generally be much better than one filled with confusion over details that are misconstrued or misrepresented.   Amanda Thomas, thanks for this great summary.  It's a reminder that can't be repeated too often

May 31, 2018 05:15 PM #52
Jill Murty, Realtor - Orange County, CA
PREA Realty - Laguna Niguel, CA

Boy, are you right Amanda Thomas! Bad people will treat you poorly if you allow it.

May 31, 2018 07:20 PM #53
John Henry
John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. - Orlando, FL
Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design

THE SIXTH TOXIC SIN: Recognize the person who has read every book on negotiation and exhibits traits of playing the art of the deal.  The very wealthy tend to try to run over you using all sorts of negotiation tactics including stalling, going for the jugular when they sense pain or blood, demanding more than your contract states, waking up each day and revising previous decisions, wearing you down in general until you pretty much agree to everything they throw at you, spend endless time revising contract terms and fees, etc.  These people have read the Art of War (maybe I should) and every book written on how to beat (not win-win strategies) everybody they do business with.  It is appalling, degrading, and you may not realize it is even happening to you until too late.  The first negotiation needs to be as complete and thorough as possible.  If there are holes in it or if you allow 'creep' then you are doomed.  ha

Jun 01, 2018 05:08 AM #54
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

The seventh toxic type is someone who trusts in others who think they know everything about real estate because they have sold a FSBO.

Jun 01, 2018 05:34 AM #55
Robert Vegas Bob Swetz
Realty ONE Group - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Henderson Homes for Sale

Hello Amanda and very well said post and thanks for the read!

Jun 01, 2018 09:51 AM #56
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

I have definitely met some of these people, and could not agree more. We really do need to figure out how to weed out certain people.

Jun 02, 2018 04:19 AM #57
Ricardo Mello
Manhattan Miami Real Estate - Manhattan, NY
Manhattan & Miami Real Estate Agent

Excellent post Amanda! I often stumble onto the first and last types...

Jun 02, 2018 11:09 AM #58
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

I'm going to share this blog with a new agent in my office.  Good advice for a newbie, and a reminder for all of us old timers to watch for this type of customer.

Jun 02, 2018 01:11 PM #59
Matthew Klinowski, PA
Downing-Frye - Naples, FL
Golf Community Real Estate Specialist

So true!  It's more challenging when you're new to say "no" and turn down potential business.  In the end, you will find you wasted valuable time you could have spent with clients who were qualified and motivated.  It's unfortunate our industry isn't respected like it should be and there can be a lack of loyalty.  Setting expectations upfront is key. Keep in mind, foreign markets operate much differently than we do in many cases, so you often times it's educating the buyer on the process. 

Jun 03, 2018 07:16 PM #60
Irina Tibbits
Panhandle Real Estate, Inc - Panama City, FL
Investment, Sellers, Buyers,Relocation

Great post ! Its so true , but can be not easy to recognize this kind customer rigth away  and I did have expepience to work with those customers...It was very difficult and feel they completely drink my blood with 1000 questions all over again and not being ready to make any decision. Even after  we finally close on deal , not the same feeling when you make your customer happy with purchase

Jun 03, 2018 08:11 PM #61
Adam Feinberg
NYC Condo, Co-op, and Townhouse specialist

I laughed at a couple of points in your article because it's true. You hit the nail on the head- well done.

Jun 05, 2018 07:32 AM #62
Michelle Carr Crowe,Altas Just Call...408-252-8900!
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

Clients and customers need to respect and value our help. I agree, "never try to help someone who thinks they are doing you a favor by hiring you."

Jun 05, 2018 12:54 PM #63
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

So true. Had this happen about 6 months ago with a builder.  That type of relationship from the get-go will not work.  

Jun 05, 2018 08:33 PM #64
James (Jim) Lawson, DBA LLC - Bonita Springs, FL
Broker Associate, RSPS, BPOR, HI & PE

There's lots of wisdom in your blog post Amanda. Determining just how  much free information to provide comes with experience. That's why I differentiate between consultation, project and property transfer representation fees by asking a lot of questions and "vetting" prospective clients early on. Indirectly, I let prospects know ultimately I must agree to serve them.  

Jun 05, 2018 10:52 PM #65
William Gary, MBA, MIM
MacLaurin Williams, LLC - Denver, CO
Be Represented. Not brokered.™ Worldwide.

Amanda - I would say this former Client, an Office Tenant, was more in the Low to No Respect Category. They still suffer from the Disease of Denial and Wishful Thinking. They ignored my recommendations and did the opposite last time, but then wondered why things went badly on several occasions over the next five years. Not only did they pick the wrong Landlord, they could have gotten more space, with a better Landlord, for $250,000 less. Go figure. Somehow they thought they knew better than the Professional. It’s very unrewarding to work hard, smart and with integrity, only to watch the Client make precisely the wrong choice, which I knew upfront. They could have made a terrible decision without my guidanve

Jul 17, 2018 06:58 PM #66
Terry Kraemer
Exceed Realty - Houston, TX
Houston Realtor

How about the want to be attorney who thinks they have to draw lines out of the contract to protect themselves.

Aug 06, 2018 09:24 PM #67
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Amanda Thomas

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