In my 37 years as a Realtor, I've known few real estate professionals, who at one time or another haven’t occasionally had a difficult or nearly impossible client to work with. The methods which agents have handled these situations have varied.
(1) Some agents simply fire the client. With a seller, they either forego listing the home, or cancel and give back the listing. With buyers, they say something in the realm of "Hasta la vista, Baby," or "Don't let the door hit you on the A#% on the way out."
(2) Other real estate professionals will coddle, or try reasoning with an unreasonable client. I remember a particular agent continually saying, "I think we are just having a communication problem."
(3) A few agents will choose the avoidance method. They delay following up with the client, or avoid having more contact than they hope is necessary, thinking they may duck and cover much of the flak. Unfortunately, this is likely the worst avenue to navigate, and there is a cost to the agent's professionalism.
There are a number of things that real estate professionals can do to insure a better experience with clients. These methods will likely keep buyers and sellers more content in working relationships and transactions. No matter how demanding or intolerant, each consumer appears, a uniform level of personal service should be provided.
The Knowledge and Skill of the real estate professional must be paramount. Real Estate clients seem to have a radar for when agents are "winging it," if these two components are absent.
A good real estate professional will discuss expectations early on. Better yet, they provide a reasonable set of expectations - and then surpass them. They tell clients how often they can expect to receive communication. For example, when listing a home, they may tell the seller, they will call or email once a week. Once the seller's property has entered escrow, communication can become more frequent. Knowing when communication is likely to occur will assist in providing reasonable expectations at the beginning of the client relationship.
While the vast majority of clients are delightful and easy to deal with, there will always be those who will wish to attach an umbilical cord, as a security measure between the two of you.
In today's real estate marketplace, timeframes have a life of their own. This is especially true in the realm of bank owned properties. And, it was especially true when the market was inundated with short-sales. Banks can be woefully slow in communicating back, and then when they do, they often fire a volley of demands, which seems unreasonably short for response from your client. Allow for the world of HURRY UP AND WAIT with today's transactions. Or WAIT AND HURRY UP!
It is beneficial to attempt to ascertain the "rhythm" of the client, and to mirror it. What time are they usually up in the morning, or when do they retire to bed for the night. You do not want to call during their "off" hours.
Are there times of the day when they seem cranky? I had a memorable client who always seemed especially difficult and cantankerous to communicate with at certain times of the day. His wife explained that he was on medication that he took at 10:00 - 2:00 and 6:00 each day. And that if I avoided communicating with him 20 minutes before those times until 20 minutes after, I'd probably catch him in a more amenable spirit. That vital tidbit of information changed the experience of the transaction tremendously.
Real Estate Professionals need to remember the importance of understanding that buying or selling a home is one of the more important and often stressful, events in client's lives. However, we can significantly diminish the stress with methods, which will also translate to sanity for ourselves as well.
There has been a little pattern I have noticed. It is often the high maintenance clients who seem to send the most referrals.
If you can go the extra measure to keep them content and happy, they will tell their friends and family and help you grow your business. And, that is what it is all about!