Ask An Ambassador: Know When To Cut Your Losses

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

Whether it's age telling me time is more important than ever, or just learning some hard lessons over the years of real estate, I'm more selective now than years past when it comes to deciding which potential clients become actual clients, and which ones STAY clients.

In my early days I'd take on just about any client, just to have a client because there was always POTENTIAL that it might turn into something.

But the reality is some people are just like a lottery ticket, there's a possibility that something could happen, but 1 in 292 million chance isn't a likely event.

Blogging and IDX pages provide us the opportunity to have those interactions, but blogging doesn't by itself tell us if the potential is real or just an illusion.  For that, we have to apply our experience, ask the right questions, and determine whether we proceed or not.  And no, we don't HAVE to work with everyone that contacts us.

I'm looking to stack the deck at the start with some key criteria.

Do they already have an agent?

When coming from our IDX page, we can see a history of the homes they viewed.  What's their price point and location?  

Are they actually looking for help or just looking for information?

The initial screening process isn't fool proof (oh, they REALLY do have an agent after all???), so the evaluation continues.

Do they try to reach into our pockets?  There are times a buyer rebate (if allowed in your state) is a business tool you'll want to use, but it's also often a warning sign that success to them is more about getting $$$ from you and whoever else they can extract it from.

Do they actually consider your advice when making decisions?  Or do they have a half-dozen friends and family providing advice that rarely applies to the situation?

Can they actually MAKE a decision?  In a heated market, sleeping on it is a short path to missing another opportunity.

Do they create drama?

Anyone can have an off day, but when the dots keep connecting, it's time to decide if it's better to refer out to another agent (been there, done that) or decline to pursue the business further (not every listing is worth keeping).

Focus on the clients that WANT to work with you and don't drive your blood pressure up.  Cut your losses when you need to.

Until next Tuesday, just Ask An Ambassador if you need help,

Bill & Liz aka BLiz

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Serving Warren County Ohio & Adjacent Areas


The Liz Spear Team of RE/MAX Alliance
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!

Bill Direct:  513-520-5305
Liz Direct: 513-265-3004     
Fax: 866-302-8418


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Comments (16)

Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Unfortunately not all clients are actually solid prospects! These are good questions to ask 

Nov 22, 2022 09:27 AM
Liz and Bill Spear

Some are even conmen (another been there, done that moment).

Nov 22, 2022 12:04 PM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Bill (and Liz too) - past experience, a gut feeling, time on this planet and lots of other things seem to combine.   Cutting out superfluous stuff from our routines can lead to a better life.  Or better living.  Maybe they will return at some point or perhaps we have said buh-bye.  Things are constantly changing.  Including priorities.  

Nov 22, 2022 11:04 AM
Michael Jacobs

Bill Liz and Bill Spear - there can be a lot of power with NO.  Afterall, the NO acronym is truly "Next Opportunity".   

Nov 22, 2022 02:17 PM
Liz and Bill Spear

Sometimes an okay client turns into a bad client.  We just finished a purchase contract that had its hiccups, but ultimately turned out well.   Led to believe we were being hired to sell an existing home, then client went off the rails when we did exactly as instructed.  Time to call it a day and move on to the NEXT. 

Nov 22, 2022 12:06 PM
Liz and Bill Spear

I could have provided a very factual "here's what you told me to do, here's what I did" case, but what would be the point once it became a client I knew I could no longer trust?

Nov 22, 2022 03:06 PM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

I totally agree. We get better at figuring out who will work well and who won't!

Nov 22, 2022 02:16 PM
Liz and Bill Spear

Every now and again one slips through the screens, but it's less likely and I know my options when the red flags wave.

Nov 22, 2022 03:06 PM
Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Not only do you not take on all "clients," but you don't have to refer all of them, either. 

Nov 22, 2022 03:23 PM
Liz and Bill Spear

True, some are best to just "catch and release"!

Nov 22, 2022 03:35 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Whenever you’re getting diminishing returns on whatever you doing life you have to either restore your supply of energy toward that then or cut your losses. It really applies to everything

Nov 22, 2022 08:23 PM
Liz and Bill Spear

Sometimes it's an evaluation and an adjustment, other times a total change of course.

Nov 23, 2022 05:43 AM
Stella Barbour
NoVa Brokers LLC - Vienna, VA
Principal Broker, Serving Virginia and Maryland

As I grew in this business, I have taken the approach of not chasing clients but working with clients that are excited to work with me. When you work with someone that you don't feel connected to, then they doubt your ability, talk to other people that are not in the business that know more than the agent, LOL, and question what you are doing and make your job difficult.  I interview my potential client before making a decision on whether or not I want to work with them.  I got into this business because it was exciting to help people fulfil their dreams of being a homeowner and I enjoy seeing this excitement with every closing. 

Nov 23, 2022 04:30 AM
Liz and Bill Spear

And the greater the proportion of those that WANT to work with us, the easier it is to take care of them.  Having to spend time correcting the advice of non-real estate agents isn't a great use of time and demonstrates the trust level isn't where it needs to be.

Nov 23, 2022 05:47 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Liz ad Bill. Leaning to cut ties before they become big losses is an art form requiring constant practice. Enjoy your day.

Nov 23, 2022 05:01 AM
Liz and Bill Spear

Sometimes we get so far in that it feels like we SHOULD keep going!  We've shown 50 houses so far, surely they'll buy number 51??  Tune in later at house 70 and counting :)

Nov 23, 2022 05:48 AM
Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

Real estate has definitely taught me that I have to cut my losses at some point and nowadays I cut them before I even lose anything, haha.

Nov 23, 2022 05:46 AM
Liz and Bill Spear

Sometimes a preemptive decision is the best kind.  When the red flags are there from the start, why press our luck?

Nov 23, 2022 05:54 AM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

It is a wonderful thing when you can become selective with clients for your business. There were some clients, when I first started my Home Staging business, that I really wish I could have avoided.

Nov 23, 2022 08:47 AM
Liz and Bill Spear

I've had some of those too over the years.  You live and learn :)

Nov 23, 2022 11:27 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much for sharing your experience and your advice.

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Nov 23, 2022 09:52 AM
Liz and Bill Spear

Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

Nov 23, 2022 11:27 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good afternoon Bill,

I always focus on the clients that WANT to work with me. 99% of my business is from sellers or buyers I have worked with in the past. I'd much rather spend time staying in touch with these gems than chasing after new business that often times exhibit no loyalty.

Nov 23, 2022 10:42 AM
Liz and Bill Spear

Dorie, that's a great business model to have!  The cold (or even lukewarm) internet leads need to arrive in quantity to get enough to sift out to the good clients.

Nov 23, 2022 11:28 AM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®
Carmel by the Sea, CA
Rothwell Realty Inc. CA#01968433 Carmel-by-the-Sea

It's the ones that call out of the blue, that have not been referred, and they normally are looking for something out of the norm that I am leery of and ask a lot of questions before I make a commitment to help them. In my area, it all comes down to money and I start that conversation right away--I need to know where it comes from to purchase here because nothing is under $1M and probably several.  I want to hear that they have just sold something, or they are looking for a second home, that they are downsizing, or just about anything that tells me they have existing equity. 

Nov 23, 2022 11:32 AM
Liz and Bill Spear

Money matters, and in your case significantly more than it does here where typical home prices are a few hundred thousand rather than a few million.  My entire real estate career I have one sale over 1 million (and that just happened this year thanks to an old blog post!).

Nov 23, 2022 12:33 PM
Emily Medvec
eXp Realty LLC - Santa Fe, NM
Broker | Realtor | Serving Santa Fe & Northern NM

Good solid advice!  There should always be a way to filter customers and change them into clients if they are fit for your business model. Early on, I learned the value of the word NEXT!

Nov 23, 2022 02:22 PM
Liz and Bill Spear

And I know there are a lot of categories (e.g. investor) that are not a good fit for what I do best.

Nov 25, 2022 05:20 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Bill:

Lots of good advice here. I was not fussy about prospects when I first started, as I expect many new agents aren't, but I learned some good lessons. Not every prospect becomes a client who buys or sells, and one must pay attention to the red flags, some of which are less obvious.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and Liz.


Nov 23, 2022 05:42 PM
Liz and Bill Spear

Over the years we've certainly had some clients that were less than optimum and turned out to be a time pull without reward.

Nov 25, 2022 05:21 AM
Steffy Hristova
HomeSmart Elite Group Tempe AZ Tel: 602.710.8161 - Tempe, AZ
Tempe AZ Realtor - Your Home Close to Your Work!

Hi Bill and Liz,

I always enjoy reading your insights. Your content is so relevant to questions that I ask myself and reflect on often. 

Nov 24, 2022 07:55 AM
Liz and Bill Spear

Always glad to provide some food for thought!

Nov 25, 2022 05:21 AM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

Your advice is spot on. One or two warning signs is enough for me to take pause. Once the decision has been made to cut ties, do it and don't look back.

Nov 29, 2022 03:19 PM
Liz and Bill Spear

Some people I'm happy to get to the closing table with and look forward to a continuing relationship.  Others, I just want to move on and let someone else have that particular headache.

Nov 29, 2022 03:50 PM