As a real estate agent, have you ever completely lost your shit?

Recently, we brought our seller the deal of a lifetime: A cash offer of $100,000 over ask with a big deposit, low-risk inspection terms, and quick close. All the buyer asked for was the furniture, which the seller didn’t want to take to the next place anyway. The offer exceeded our best expectations—by a lot. Our seller was thrilled!

At first. 

When a Client Pulls a 180

In his next phone call to us, the seller did a one-eighty. He said he would only take the offer if the buyer added $10,000 for the furnishings. He also suggested that if they wouldn’t pay it, perhaps it could be deducted from the broker commissions. 

I thought he was kidding at first. For Pete’s sake, the buyer was already paying $100,000 for the furnishings! But I soon realized he was dead serious. “This is insane,” I thought. How am I supposed to keep a straight face when I go back to the buyer agent with this information?”

The buyer agent was equally incensed and mortified that he had to relay this news to his client. You can probably guess what happened next: the buyer was furious and started talking about pulling the offer.

Go Back to Your Client’s Motivation

As I wracked my brain for a way to knock some sense into my irrational client, I became aware of how intense my own feelings were. I was angry, embarrassed, and afraid that the deal would fall apart. Fortunately, I had just enough wits about me to remember that we still had a day to work on it and decided to give us all the night to sleep on it.

Sure enough, the morning brought much-needed clarity. I went back into my notes about why this client was selling, and suddenly it all made sense: This home had been in his family for three generations, and he was selling it as part of his and his long-term girlfriend’s plan to consolidate their assets. Selling this house meant saying goodbye to his past and to his last foothold of bachelordom. This slam dunk offer was calling his bluff. Of course he freaked out!

Be the Professional Through Emotional Times

I wrote a quick email to the seller, letting him know that I had communicated all of his wishes as requested. I reviewed the price and terms he had on his wish list, comparing them to the price and terms we had on the table, and explained to him this was a deal he might never see again. 

I finished with, 

That said, I know for you, selling this house isn’t just selling any old house. So, there may be reasons you have that are none of my business, and I respect that. I am just giving you my best professional advice. I’m here for whatever direction you choose.” 

And I meant it.

Not five minutes later I got a one-line email: “I accept the offer as written.” 

Later on the phone, he apologized for “…acting a little crazy there; there was a lot going on that day…”

The rest of the deal went off without a hitch. I was stunned (and pretty relieved if we’re being honest).

This deal was a good reminder to me that no matter how stoic a client seems to be, selling or buying a house is always an emotional experience. We need to make space for them to come unhinged if they need to. But in order to do that, we have to keep our own shit together. 

So the next time your client goes off the deep end, take a breath, go back to your notes, remember what your job is, and be the calm. steady rock your clients need you to be.