How to Handle Difficult Real Estate Clients? (With Experts Videos)

(**) Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning our company, JCHQ Publishing will get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through the links, but at no additional cost to you.

Being a real estate agent is rewarding, but it’s not always a walk in the park. Sometimes, you meet clients who find the whole home-buying process super overwhelming.

Imagine a young couple, eager to buy their first home. They’ve been saving up for years, and this is a big deal for them. They start with a vision of their dream house, but with every property you show them, their preferences change.

One day, they’re dead set on a cozy cottage with a backyard, and the next, they’re veering towards a city apartment. As days turn into weeks, they grow more anxious and indecisive. And you? You’re caught in the whirlwind of their changing minds and mounting frustrations.

For agents, navigating situations like these can be exhausting. You’re not just managing property listings but also a rollercoaster of emotions and decisions. And if not handled well, it can drain your energy, lead to negative feedback or even complaints, potential liabilities, and harm the business reputation.

So, what’s the best way to handle these situations?

To handle difficult real estate clients, agents must exercise patience, actively listen, educate the client about the process, curate options based on their needs, and provide expert guidance throughout the journey.

Still unsure on what to do? Let’s dive in and explore.

As part of the requirement to stay in good standing with the Licensing Commission, you must complete the required Continuing Education. The CE Shop is an online school that I like and received excellent feedback from its students. You may check out their CE courses here. (**)

Patience is Key

Every client has a unique timeline. While some are decisive and quick, others tread cautiously, especially if it’s their first property venture. Afterall, buying a home isn’t like picking up something on impulse from a store. It’s a big leap, and it’s totally natural for buyers to feel the stress of such a huge decision.

Just imagine a young couple, excited yet anxious about buying their first home. They’re not just deciding on the number of bedrooms or the color of the exterior; they’re envisioning their future, potentially raising a family there, hosting gatherings, and making countless memories.

For them, feeling rushed might cause unnecessary stress and could push them to make hasty, regrettable decisions. As an agent, exercising patience assures clients that they’re in a safe space, giving them the time they need to make one of the most significant decisions of their lives.

Breathe. Remember to always breathe. When customers become hard to deal with, we become rigid and we forget to breathe, possibly compounding an already bad situation. Calmly breathe in deeply and exhale. Calmly, without exaggerated noise. Breathing nourishes our brain and calms us down, allowing us to concentrate better.

Quote from Barabra Khozam, Customer Service Consultant

Listening Actively

One of the pillars of effective client-agent relationships is understanding. This understanding stems from active listening. It’s not just about hearing words but about comprehending the underlying needs, desires, and concerns. The better you listen, the better you can pinpoint precisely what your client wants.

A sales agent once shared an insightful story. His client wanted a place that’s cozy like a cabin but in the heart of the city. The agent misunderstood and started searching for woodsy, cabin-like homes in urban areas.

However, what the client really meant was an urban apartment or home with warm, rustic interior design. Misunderstandings like this highlight the importance of clear communication and understanding client preferences in-depth.

Check out:

Setting Client Expectations Upfront

Establishing a clear, mutual understanding from the start can pave the way for smoother transactions and fewer misunderstandings. Here’s how agents can set expectations upfront:

  1. Level of Service: Clearly define what services you provide. Will you be handling every aspect of the transaction? Are there services that might incur additional charges? Setting these boundaries helps clients to set a realistic expectation.
  2. Preferred Communication Channels: Some clients may prefer text messages, while others opt for emails or phone calls. Determine and agree upon the most effective communication methods to ensure timely and efficient exchanges.
  3. Working Hours: It’s essential to communicate your standard working hours. While the real estate world often operates outside the typical 9-5, it’s beneficial for both parties to know when they can expect to reach one another.
  4. Response Turnaround Time: In our fast-paced digital age, clients might expect instant responses. However, agents have multiple clients and tasks. Clarify how quickly they should expect a response, whether it’s within a few hours or by the next business day.
  5. Transparent Commission Rate: Money matters can be a delicate topic, but transparency is vital. Discuss your commission rate upfront to prevent any surprises or misunderstandings down the line.

Clarifying the Process

Navigating the world of real estate can feel like diving into a pool of jargon and paperwork for many clients. It’s a bit like learning a new language, and not knowing what’s going on can make people hesitant. This uncertainty often leads to clients feeling unsure or overwhelmed.

Think of a client who’s staring wide-eyed at a pile of papers they have to sign. Terms like ‘contingencies’, ‘mortgage rates’, or ‘closing costs’ might as well be a different language to them.

A great way to ease their worries is to walk them through it all, step by step. Having a simple FAQ or even a list of common terms and what they mean can help make everything feel less mysterious and more manageable.

Limiting Options to Avoid Overwhelm

In an attempt to showcase diligence, agents might flood clients with property options. However, paradoxically, an abundance of choices can lead to indecision. Consider just focusing on options that truly align with the client’s needs.

For instance, if a client is looking for a three-bedroom home near a school, within a specific budget, it would be counterproductive to show them a two-bedroom luxury condo downtown, even if it’s a fantastic deal.

By honing in on properties that tick most of their boxes, you ensure that clients aren’t overwhelmed and can make clear-headed decisions.

Other studies have confirmed this result that more choice is not always better. As the variety of snacks, soft drinks, and beers offered at convenience stores increases, for instance, sales volume and customer satisfaction decrease.

Quote from Harvard Business Review – More isn’t Always Better

Being the Coach

A real estate agent’s role extends beyond property hunting. You should demonstrate to your clients, yet, you are no doubt the transaction facilitator, but you are also their real estate mentor, coach or advisor.

Your clients can come to you for advice, insights, and expertise. Agents should provide guidance and lend their expertise, ensuring clients make informed decisions.

Consider a client who’s caught in a dilemma: a trendy townhouse in the bustling city or a spacious property in the serene suburbs? It’s not just about prices and square footage. It’s about lifestyle, future plans, and personal preferences. This is where a seasoned agent becomes invaluable.

They don’t just point to listings; they delve deep, weighing the pros and cons, sharing anecdotes from past clients, and shedding light on market trends. This guidance helps clients not just make a choice but make the right choice for their unique life situation.

Knowing When to Part Ways

But here’s the thing: Sometimes, despite all your efforts, you and the client just don’t get along. It’s like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole; no matter how hard you push, it’s just not the right fit.

And that’s okay. Recognizing when a relationship isn’t working is crucial for both your well-being and theirs.

Why? Continually working in a tense environment can drain your energy, affect your performance with other clients, and even tarnish your professional reputation.

On the client’s side, they may end up feeling dissatisfied, constantly second-guessing their decisions, or even resenting the process altogether.

So, how do you part ways gracefully?

  1. Open Communication: Initiate a candid conversation. Express your concerns, listen to theirs, and see if there’s a middle ground. Sometimes, just talking it out can resolve many misunderstandings.
  2. Be Professional: Avoid making it personal. Frame the conversation around what’s best for them. You might say, “I genuinely want you to find the perfect home, and I feel you might benefit from a fresh perspective.”
  3. Provide Alternatives: If possible, recommend another agent or agency that might be a better fit for their needs. It shows that you still care about their journey, even if you’re no longer a part of it.
  4. Leave on Good Terms: Remember, today’s client could be tomorrow’s referral. Ensure the parting is amicable, wish them well, and encourage them to reach out if they have questions in the future.

At the end of the day, your role as an agent is to facilitate a smooth home-buying or selling process. If, for some reason, the journey becomes too rocky, it’s alright to consider a different path, always keeping your client’s best interests at heart.

Check out this blog on “When and How to Fire a Real Estate Client?

Helpful Videos on Dealing with Difficult Clients

In the above video, Robert Rico from CA Realty Training shares invaluable insights on handling indecisive real estate clients. At the heart of his message is the importance of patience and keen listening. Imagine buying a house as a multi-layered pizza decision; it’s exciting but overwhelming.

Rico’s golden advice? Act as a funnel – gather all the details clients share, listen intently, and narrow down their genuine desires. He also emphasizes clarity: break down complex contracts and loan terms so clients can understand them, helping dispel their fears. What struck me most was his genuine care for clients, advocating for trust-building over rushing a sale.

Here’s another clip from LeAnn Henri, a Realtor from Good Company Realty, discusses various strategies when working with real estate clients. I particularly agree with her approach in setting client’s expectation upfront- for example, she would let them know about her business hours, if they text her at 11pm, she would not answer them.

Final Thoughts

Real estate challenges, especially those posed by indecisive clients, are inevitable. However, with a client-centric approach, patience, and dedication, these challenges can transform into rewarding learning experiences.

By grounding your services in understanding, education, and expert guidance, you position yourself as not just an agent but a trusted advisor, guiding clients through one of the most significant journeys of their lives.

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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for general information only, and not intend to provide any advice. They are subjected to change without any notice, and not guaranteed to be error-free. Some of the posts on this site may contain views and opinions from individual not related to JCHQ Publishing. They do not necessarily reflect our view or position.


  • Jacob Coleman

    Jacob is a content writer and a real estate investor. He has experience working with different real estate professionals throughout the years. (i.e., appraisers, real estate agents, property managers, home inspectors.) In order to build a career you love, Jacob believes not only you need a thorough understanding about the profession, but you also have to find out what type of jobs could match your personality, lifestyle and expectation.

Jacob Coleman

Jacob is a content writer and a real estate investor. He has experience working with different real estate professionals throughout the years. (i.e., appraisers, real estate agents, property managers, home inspectors.) In order to build a career you love, Jacob believes not only you need a thorough understanding about the profession, but you also have to find out what type of jobs could match your personality, lifestyle and expectation.

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