Why We Work With Shitty Real Estate Clients
I was on a Facebook group for new real estate agents the other day and I was trying to comment on as many posts as I could to be helpful to new agents in the business. One of the agents asked a question, “I have a client with a 500 credit score, does anyone know how I can help get them approved for a loan?”
To which I responded, “We only work with shitty clients if we are being too lazy to go find better ones.” In hindsight maybe she just needed some support and wasn’t looking to be challenged but the advice is excellent. I remember the first time Mike Ferry said it from the stage and I think I wrote it down, circled it, underlined it three times, and put a star next to it.
“WE ONLY WORK WITH SHITTY CLIENTS IF WE ARE BEING TOO LAZY TO GO FIND BETTER ONES”
I’ll tell you a quick story from early on in my career. This was around 2007 and the market was crazy good still at this point. Deals were flying off the shelves and any good listing would get multiple offers right away. A buddy of mine told me that his girlfriend wanted to buy a place in a specific townhome project and that was the only place she wanted to live. I decided to go to work for her, and since none of the units were for sale I started cold calling all of the owners.
By a miracle I found a seller whose daughter had actually gone to high school with me and he told me he would sell. Even better, he threw out the price $20,000 below what the last comp had sold for. I called my client and within 24 hours we were under contract. She was ecstatic. The process was fast and easy and I showed up at the closing table with a huge smile on my face. The boyfriend had called me earlier in the day telling me how amazing it was that I had actually cold called and found a great unit well below market value.
Much to my surprise, the closing was not a pleasant experience. Her mom decided to show up and lets just say she probably doesn’t have many true friends. Her hair was one of those poofy Grease looking deals and her wedding ring needed a wheelbarrow to carry it around. She was going through the closing docs and demanding that everything be lowered by the title company. One item on there was an HOA transfer fee that any new buyer has to pay when they move in. The title company and loan officer had run through all this with the daughter already but the mom turned to me and said, “You didn’t tell us about this, you need to pay this!”
The fee was only $400 but I was more worried about the principle of the whole thing. I calmly explained that the daughter knew about it, it had to be paid, and it had nothing to do with me or my commission. The mom flipped out and told us she wouldn’t sign if I didn’t. I could tell the daughter and boyfriend were both mortified but I told her there was nothing I could do. Finally, she called her husband who apparently is a big developer in town and she told me to talk to him. I actually liked him, he was a reasonable man and besides his taste in women he seemed like a sharp guy. He ultimately said, “Look man, it’s $400 and if you don’t pay it you won’t ever represent anyone in my family again.” This was a defining moment for me as an agent. I knew I’d worked hard, I’d gone above and beyond on this deal, and I decided to hold my ground. I said, “Look man, I did my job and honestly do you really think I want to deal with you guys again?” Then I hung up the phone.
I went back to the closing table and told her I wasn’t going to budge. The mom looked at me, leaned in, and said, “If you don’t pay for that we walk and you lose all your commission!” And this is the point of the whole story… We work with bad clients only if we are too lazy to go out and find new ones. I had something like 14-15 deals closing that month. I was completely unattached to the outcome in that moment and I already knew in my heart there was no chance she was walking from that deal. On top of that, even if she did walk I would feel better about myself for walking away with my integrity and not giving in to a bully who had probably been beating up people with much less money than her for her entire life.
I leaned right back into the table and I said, “If you walk I will call the seller and have this resold within an hour. Meanwhile you can explain to your daughter how you cost her $20,000 in equity and why she doesn’t have a home. Lady, I’d rather lose my entire commission then give $1 to a bully like you! Sign it or don’t, I don’t give a damn!” Then I looked at my client, said “I’m leaving, Im sorry this turned out this way, hope you get your house.” She signed.
In real estate and life, people will treat you with the respect you demand. The daughter and boyfriend both called and thanked me. The loan officer, who was friends with the mom texted me later that it was the greatest thing she’d ever seen. The title rep told me that 99 out of 100 agents cut their commission $400 to get a deal done and he was never happier in his 25 year career to see an agent take a stand.
In the past week I have sold 7 properties and all 7 were friends of mine that literally called or texted me and immediately either had a property they wanted to see or were ready to get looking. We attract what we are so if you want better clients, become an amazing agent, work hard for every deal, and eventually you will get to a point where you can say, “Thankfully in my business I have enough clients that I don’t have to work with people like you! You’re Fired!”
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