Ever say one of these?

“Your buyer did WHAT in my seller’s new construction toilet that isn’t hooked up to plumbing yet??”

“What do you mean there’s an open conservation commission Order of Conditions on the deed from 1977 and we can’t close until it’s resolved, which could very likely mean we have to push out the closing date..” 

Or deal with something like this?

That time our client’s glass patio table smashed to bits and we paid to have someone come clean it up before they ever saw it.

These are all examples of real crises we have solved for our clients. I’m sure you could add a long list of your own feats of valor you’ve committed in the name of keeping a deal together and your client from freaking out.

Yet, sometimes, it can be detrimental to our business to keep quiet on all the issues that arise. 

The Problem with “Everything’s Fine”

The effort we put into shielding our clients from stress in a deal is huge—and it’s killing us. Not just ourselves but our industry. 

When we do everything we can to make our clients think that “Everything’s fine, nothing to see over here!” they get to thinking that buying and selling houses is pretty easy. And then they think maybe we’re not worth what we get paid (which by the way is a median annual income of $57,000, but that’s a conversation for another day). And then they sue us.

Most real estate agents are givers. We’re good people who genuinely want the best for our clients and we take pride in removing stress from what is already a highly emotional experience. That is a noble goal and should still be a priority. But for the sake of the industry, we need to do it differently.

Take the open Order of Conditions crisis above. This could have been a show-stopper, as this is a defect on a property’s deed, and it can kibosh a sale. I’m not advocating that we should engage our clients in the drama of a bad news announcement and let them short-circuit about the what-ifs and how this happened. But insulating them from every bump in the road is not good for business.

Dos and Don’ts for Addressing Issues with Clients

Here are some dos and don’ts on how to talk to your clients about the problems you solve for them:

DON’T SAY: “Hi Matthew, everything’s looking good for closing–almost there!”

DON’T SAY: “Hi Matthew. So I know we’re supposed to close on the 24th, but the buyer’s attorney found a problem with the deed. Looks like there’s an open order of conditions but the original engineer has since passed away so he can’t help us. It needs to be resolved by the meeting on the 22nd or else we can’t close, so we’re going to have to figure this out.”

DON’T SAY: “…”

DO SAY: “Hi Matthew. I’m calling with an update on the sale of the house. In the title search the buyer’s attorney found that an order of conditions from the conservation commission was pulled when your family did work on the deck, and it still needs to be inspected in order to close the sale with a clean title. I have attached the details to this message. I’ve got an engineer lined up to do the work and bring it to conservation in time to get it on a meeting agenda before the closing. He estimates it will cost about $1500. If you’re okay with that I will give him the go-ahead and keep you posted on the progress.”

This was an actual problem we solved for our seller clients. While Matthew experienced a little bit of anxiety over this bump in the road, he was soothed by the fact that we had the problem under control and would keep him posted all along the way. Later we got a glowing, very specific review lauding our gifts as problem solvers and professionals.

For all the work you do on behalf of your clients you are worth every penny you get paid. But if you want to thrive in today’s market, you’re going to have to prove it.