Real Stories from the Real Estate Trenches
Shocker! A person like me who survives on 100% commission sometimes fires clients. I am deeply devoted to providing the best possible service and will jump through rings of fire to make sure my clients get the best price and terms on their purchase or sale and are happy.
Every once in a while, I will stumble upon someone who has not earned this level of service. In sixteen years of selling real estate, there have only been a handful of such folks. While these situations were troubling to me at the time, I can now look back on them with some good natured humor. The stories you will read below are 100% true.
A real estate relationship is like a short-term marriage. If client and broker’s interests are aligned and they are mutually devoted, the relationship will be happy and successful. But what happens when one spouse cheats? Should the other spouse still provide the same unwavering devotion?. I worked with a prospective client who asked me to preview homes, do FaceTime tours, and search out off market properties that met his criteria. After investing a number of hours of my time, I asked him to sign a Buyer-Broker Agreement. It was then that he told me he was actually talking to several agents. I told him I was respectful of his desire to talk to many agents, but I would no longer be one of them. If a client won’t “commit” to working with me, then I wish them well. I can’t take time away from my committed clients to work with someone who is not interested in real estate monogamy.
I listed a home and the seller refused to leave for showings. I showed the home a few times while the seller was there and the buyers where extremely uncomfortable. When I told the seller he would need to leave for showings, he told me he had guns in his house. In my mind, this made the situation go from uncomfortable to a little crazy. I delicately extricated myself from the listing and the seller decided to keep his home after all.
I received a call from an out of town buyer who told me she was interested in purchasing a $2-3M home at Promontory. She would be a cash buyer. She then requested data of every home that sold in Promontory for the past 5 years. She had never even set foot in the development. I explained to her that taken out of context, the data would be meaningless. Second, sales from 5 years ago have no bearing on today’s prices. I would be glad to send her sales trends of median sales price, volume, etc. It was then that the red flag appeared. She told me she had looked at hundreds of homes in Lake Tahoe and had not purchased anything. And like Mr. Unfaithful above, she was not interested in an exclusive relationship. She would take all of my data and expertise and be perfectly comfortable using another broker to write an offer. She was shocked when I told her I didn’t think we would be a good fit.
A colleague and I listed a $2M home that belonged to a single man whose college-aged daughter would drop in periodically when she was on vacation. We always let the client know when showings were scheduled. I showed the house one time and it turned out his daughter was home and the house was messy. We told the client that he should inform his daughter of showings so she could make her bed and straighten things up. The second time I showed the house when the daughter was in town, I was literally repulsed. There were used tissues crumpled up on the couch. There were dirty plates in the kitchen sink. The bathroom was disgusting with personal items and trash strewn everywhere. On the unmade bed was a pile of dirty clothes. I told my colleague that I needed to remove myself from this listing. My listings are always show-ready and this house was embarrassing. I felt that it reflected poorly on me as a real estate professional. My colleague eventually sold the house—to a buyer who purchased it sight unseen!
Most of my clients become good friends, refer their friends and eventually become repeat clients. One of the joys of my business is getting to know some pretty amazing people. Helping someone with one of the largest purchases or sales they will make in their life is truly gratifying to me. Fortunately, the examples in this blog are the rare exceptions.