AgentIndustry Voices

Strategies for working with difficult clients in real estate

When clients are stressing, it’s your job to guide them through the buying or selling process

Chances are that you’ll work with your share of difficult clients throughout your career as a real estate agent. The good news, though, is that you can usually pinpoint the stressful challenges they’re facing and provide solutions that leave all parties feeling satisfied.

Whether the clients are stressing about current market conditions, making personal sacrifices, or experiencing a major life change as part of their move, it’s your job to guide your clients through the buying or selling process. Here are five ways to work with challenging real estate clients in 2023.

1. Understand current economic conditions.

As an agent, it’s your job to have a keen understanding of your local real estate market and the impact it has on buyers and sellers. When you know the market, you’ll understand one of the biggest pain points for your clients.

It’s important to know available inventory and how much competition buyers and sellers may encounter. In 2023, your clients may feel the pain of an inflated economy and soaring interest rates. That can make affording a home challenging for buyers, which, in turn, may cause sellers’ homes to sit on the market, eventually prompting them to accept a lower offer.

Be honest with customers about the real pitfalls they may face in today’s economic climate. Use your connections to help buyers get the best interest rate possible on their mortgage. With sellers, help them set a price that will give them a solid profit while also attracting cash-strapped buyers in their market.

2. Know today’s market.

The pandemic has left a lasting impression on home buyers — and what they want today differs from what they wanted in 2019.

With many Americans working from home full-time or in a hybrid arrangement, buyers are looking for housing that provides ample workspace, in addition to room for day-to-day living. Clients working from home won’t be lured by close proximity to the office.

In turn, competition can be fierce for homes in quiet neighborhoods, where employees won’t be disturbed while on conference calls.

Other clients may want more space to accommodate hobbies they picked up during the
pandemic. You can win over a client with a green thumb by identifying properties with ample
room in the yard for a garden, or one with plenty of windows to nurture houseplants.

Energy-efficient homes are no longer a premium amenity. After experiencing inflated energy
costs, many of today’s buyers are looking for homes that reduce their expenses. Buyers are
also looking for homes with smart features that allow them to access their home’s security and energy settings from a mobile device.

3. Screen your clients.

As you grow your customer base, it’s tempting to say yes to anyone who contacts you. But
taking on every client isn’t always the best strategy for you or your business.

Do your research before meeting with a client. By asking a few smart questions, you can understand their situation and learn whether you are the right agent for the job.

If your area of expertise is working with empty-nesters and retirees in the suburbs, you may find it challenging to meet the needs of young professionals who want to buy a condo downtown.

In these cases, you may benefit from referring the client to another agent who can meet their
needs. With luck, that agent could send you future clients who need your expertise in return.

4. Pay attention to subtle hints.

When talking to your clients, listen to what they say, what they don’t say, and how they say it.
By staying tuned in to clients’ comments and mannerisms, you can understand their greatest
concerns and identity solutions that put them at ease.

Perhaps your client is a first-time buyer who wants more room. That could mean they’re looking for a house with multiple bedrooms to accommodate their growing family. It could also mean they want an open concept home with plenty of space for entertaining.

When you understand exactly what your client is looking for, you can identify homes that are
more likely to meet their needs. This can save you the time, hassle, and frustration of touring
properties that your client won’t like.

Buyers value their time. When they’re ready to make a purchase, use digital signature software to make the process of signing a mountain of paperwork fast and efficient.

5. Be prepared for emotions.

Buying and selling a home is one of the largest transactions most people will participate in during their lifetimes. It’s understandable that your clients may be emotional throughout the process.

A first-time buyer may have anxiety about parting with the money they’ve saved for a down payment while also signing a mortgage they’ll pay off over the next 30 years. You can reduce that stress by respecting their home-buying budget during the search. You can also educate them on home values and the benefits of building equity over time.

Your clients may also be emotional for more personal reasons. Empty-nesters preparing to sell their longtime family home may experience emotions ranging from sadness to excitement. Be patient and supportive as they go through this major life change.

You may also work with clients who are buying or selling a friend or family member’s home.
Tensions may be high, and you may find yourself balancing the needs of multiple clients. When possible, avoid taking sides, and be a source of unbiased facts that all parties can depend upon.

In many cases, a client simply needs to feel understood. By lending them an ear, you’ll earn their confidence, which you can use to guide them through their real estate transaction.

Luke Babich is the Co-Founder and COO at Clever Real Estate, a real estate education platform for home buyers, sellers and investors.