Fire Your Agent & Fire Your Client!


5 minute read

January 6, 2012

Sometimes, you just need a fresh start.

There is no such thing as “A Realtor for everybody,” but by the same token, some clients are just wrong for their agents…

I’ve been dumped before.  We all have.

It’s just like dating

You have a few interactions – emails, phone calls, and maybe even meet a few times.  Then he or she just stop returning your messages.  Just like dating, eventually you just “get the picture,” and give up.

Selling real estate is not an exact science, and it’s an incredibly personal process.  A buyer is looking to purchase the largest asset that he or she will ever own, and the buyer is going to live, eat, sleep, and breathe this property!

The relationship between the Realtor and the buyer or seller needs to be a strong one, or else both parties will get burned in the end.

No matter how many “contracts” we have to protect ourselves or our clients, none of this matters if the parties don’t get along, trust each other, and see eye-to-eye.

Technology has changed the real estate industry over the past few years to the point where the Internet is where about 99% of all buyers begin their searches.  Once upon a time, a young buyer would meet with his mother or father’s Realtor, and that’s where the relationship would begin.  But today, by the time the parents recommends that young Billy meet with their own Realtor, who was the top seller in 1988, Billy has already conversed with a couple of agents that he found online, and he’s already working with one of them.

Isn’t this the way it should be?

The relationship between a buyer and his or her Realtor is important, and personal!  Getting a hand-me-down Realtor from your parents is like being part of an arranged marriage!

Countless times, I’ve had people come to me and say, “I was working with this Realtor from XYZ Firm, but we’re not really getting along.”  Even worse are the buyers that don’t have the stomach to make the switch, and end up begrudgingly working with somebody they don’t like for six months, and then getting poor advice on a property they regret buying.

I believe that you need some sort of chemistry, or some common ground to forge a beneficial relationship.

Sure, Realtors are salespeople, but not all of them.  There are probably some 20,000 fly-by-nighters, and if you get hooked up with one of these people then God Speed.

But at the risk of sounding incredibly corny, I care about the well-being of my clients, and if anything – I often get too attached to them.

My girlfriend knows the names of my current buyers and sellers because I talk about them non-stop.  Or sometimes they go by nicknames such as “The Rosedale Couple” or “Jon’s Cousin.”  But either way, my clients are always on my mind, and they should be, because real estate truly is a 24/7 business.

So if you think this is turning into an advertising piece about me and how great I am, it’s not.  And I’ll tell you why…

There are some buyers who don’t want the “personal touch” from their Realtor, and who are all business, all the time.  Some buyers don’t want to ever smile, laugh, or be cordial with their Realtor for fear that any sort of perceived friendship might let the Realtor believe that he or she can work less hard.  Maybe this is a small percentage of the buyer/seller pool, but these people do exist, and I once had a client fire me because I called his house and spoke to his wife, when, as he put it, he was “to be the primary and only point of contact for the purchase of real estate.”  I know what you’re thinking, and yes – this was a cultural thing.  I was young, naive, and I should have clued in the first time we went to look at a house and he made his wife wait in the car…

The point I am trying to make here is that not every buyer or seller can work with every Realtor, myself included.

I’m a very opinionated, very aggressive, and quite extroverted person both in my business dealings and in my day-to-day interactions.  Some people might find this works in their favour, and I”m sure some people wouldn’t be able to stand me for more than ten minutes.

It all depends on what you’re looking for in a Realtor.

My only advice is that if you find yourself with a Realtor who doesn’t suite your needs (even if it’s me!), don’t be afraid to switch.  Sure, most Realtors will ask you to sign a “Buyer Representation Agreement,” but that’s not to lock you into purchasing through them – or at least that’s not what the document was intended to do.  The BRA is meant to identify the agency relationship, and protect the buyer; and while some Realtors muse about it “protecting themselves,” I think that’s garbage.  If you want out of your BRA, just ask.

Of course, on the other side of the equation is the client not being right for the Realtor!  Yes, this can happen.  Not all Realtors are fighting for table-scraps and would sell their mothers for another deal.

The best example I can think of is a couple I was working with about three years ago.  They found me on my blog, like most of my clients, and we got along exceptionally well for the first little while.  But I didn’t feel like they ever really “got me.”  They liked me, and they listened to me, but when it came time to make offers, they didn’t absorb what I was saying.

The downtown condo market was very hot at this time, and we made offers on six condos – all in multiple offers, and lost all six times.

It wasn’t the losing that bothered me – because it’s not about me.  But rather it was the fact that they never listened to my advice.  If a condo was modestly listed at $329,000 and there were six offers, I might have suggested, “Guys, I think you need to be around $360,000 to have a shot.  I think the property is worth that much because the unit one floor down sold for $357,000 last month, and I know you love the building, the view, and the fact that your friend lives here – so just go for it!”

But then they’d tell me they wanted to offer $338,000, and the situation would repeat itself over and over and over.

And look – I don’t want this to sound like I’m complaining because they wouldn’t “over-pay” or “ante-up” for a place so I could close a deal.  Again – it’s not about me, and I really took an interest in this young couple and in their lives.  What irked me was that they acted like they trusted me and in the end they were never willing to listen to me.

So, I let them go.

I have no idea if they ever bought, or who they went to work with, but it wasn’t me.

I basically told them, “You guys need a fresh start.  You need a fresh voice, and a new set of ideas.”

And it’s true.  It’s like a great NHL coach whose players don’t listen to him anymore; he’s “lost the room.”  The guys have tuned him out because even though his message is great, they’ve just been listening to it way too long and no longer absorb it.

This couple needed a new Realtor.  They needed a new voice and a new philosophy that could excite them again – because I sure wasn’t doing it for them!  We spent close to eight months looking at condos, and by the end, they were looking so down every time I saw them!

This industry works both ways.

Sometimes as a buyer or seller, you have to let your agent go.  And sometimes as a Realtor, you have to wish your clients all the best as they move on to greener pastures.

I have the benefit of this blog as a recruiting tool for buyers and sellers, in that people come to me after reading my blog for a week, a month, or a year, and they like what I have to say and they want me to work on their behalf.  99% of the time, it’s a great fit right off the bat.  I’m truly blessed, and it’s why I love my job.

But not everybody has this luxury – not all Realtors, and not all buyers and sellers.  You can’t be afraid to pause, think about your options, and start over.

My first, and only “investment advisor” lost all my money when I was 19 years old.  Do you think I stuck it out with him?

Best of luck to everybody who is buying or selling in 2012, whether you’re working with me or not! 🙂

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

Find Out More About David Read More Posts

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  1. Clara

    at 4:19 pm

    “If you want out of your BRA, just ask.”

    *slow claps*

  2. Ted

    at 3:09 pm

    realtors are unprofessional dickwads

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