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Let Your Real Estate Clients Go If It's Not Working Out

Posted by Irina Jordan

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Nov 10, 2015 9:00:00 AM

In today's Agent Insights post, Patricia Kennedy - a Real Estate Agent at Evers & Company Real Estate in Washington DC - shares her take whether it's worthwhile to hold on to real estate clients if they want out.

Here's Patricia:


Does it ever make sense to try to hold sellers to an agreement when they want out?  

There are usually more than one of several factors that cause sellers to want out of a listing or buyer agency agreement:

  • The agent has been unsuccessful at finding a buyer.
  • The agent is not doing what he said he would do to market the home.
  • The home isn't getting showings.
  • The listing agreement was for an unusually long period of time - longer than the sellers want to wait to make a change.
  • The agent has made some mistake in their handling of the listing, and the sellers don't like the way the clean up operation got handled.
  • The agent has been generally incompetent or unethical, and the sellers want to start over.

You get the drift.  

But whatever the seller is thinking, you are thinking that you've been working your heart out to get their house sold and they don't appreciate you. They ignore your advice, then whine because the buyers are not lined up around the block, checkbooks in hand.  

They say they want out. You point out that they signed a contract that is legally binding.

Being right will cost you.

  • You've angered a client, and instead of focusing on how to make things work for him, you've put your energies into defending whatever you did. And that won't fix a client's problem.  
  • You could become the subject of scary real estate stories at every cocktail or dinner party your client attends for a long, long time, which could lose you listings in the future.  
  • If you are trying to force a seller to stay with a contract until it expires, that's exactly what it is very likely to do. That  client will not want to pay you a dime that they are likely to be completely uncooperative, no matter what you do.
  • You are likely to damage your reputation with colleagues who may be involved in some way with the transaction.

But being wrong and hanging on?  That will really cost you!

  • This is where lawyers get involved, and that is never a good thing for your career.
  • If you have violated the NAR Code of Ethics, you could be in hot waters with your local real estate board and the state commission. If you're lucky, you'll just pay a fine.  But you could also get your license suspended or even revoked.
  • If you get hauled into court, there could be serious damages.
  • If you get hauled into court, some areas have boiler-plate contracts that, in the event of litigation, the loser has to pay the winner's legal fees - in addition to his own! And don't forget the court costs.

Even if the seller was in the wrong, I'd let him go. The time spent in grievance committee investigations, regulatory hearings, and perhaps even a courtroom take time and expend lots of energy. Even if any decisions do go in your favor, you could have made more money if you had let the listing go and spent time working with clients who were a good fit and who liked you - the ones who will refer lots of business to you in the future. Letting go is a smart move as a business and personal decision.

Want to learn more about Patricia? Visit her website, www.housepat.com.

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Topics: Agent Insights

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