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How (and why) to break up with a difficult client

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Relationship building is an important part of a successful real estate career. That said, sometimes cutting ties with a client you don’t see eye to eye with is the best path forward. Keep reading for tips and best practices when you’re ready to call it quits with a client.

Reasons to end a relationship with a client

Real estate transactions can be incredibly stressful for all parties involved. We’re all bound to have a bad day. That said, if you’re working with a client who doesn’t respect your boundaries or your time, it might be time to move on.
If you’ve done your best to communicate the process and establish expectations and your client still has unrealistic demands, it’s not unreasonable to dissolve your relationship.

How to break up with a difficult client

If you’re struggling and you just can’t see the transaction through to the end, below are a few tips to help you cut ties with a tough client.

  • Review your contract: Whether it be a listing contract or a buyer agency agreement, most contracts have a clause that defines how and when each party can dissolve their relationship. Be sure to speak with your broker to make sure your interpretation of the contract is correct.
  • Get it in writing: To avoid future legal action, write up a mutual release and make sure all parties sign the document. A mutual release is when all parties agree to terminate the contract. If your client refuses to sign a mutual release, ask your broker to step in and get involved. Sometimes a third party talking to your client can provide a perspective they might listen to and respond better to. If they still won’t sign a mutual release, it’s time to get legal counsel involved on both sides. When you begin working with a lawyer, do not communicate directly with your clients. All communication should go through the established legal channels from that point on.
  • Be respectful and transparent: When communicating with a challenging client, don’t let your emotions get the best of you. If you’ve made a mistake, be honest about it. Being transparent can go a long way in repairing a relationship or at least help end it on good terms.
  • Provide a new referral: Don’t leave your former client high and dry, always offer to refer them to another agent who might be able to better address their needs. In some cases, you might be able to secure a referral fee for this, ensuring that the time you spent working for them isn’t a complete financial loss.

How to avoid difficult clients

Sometimes the best way to avoid a bad break-up is to avoid the type of clients who aren’t a right fit to begin with. It’s important to set clear expectations upfront. If they decide to go with a different agent, you can rest easy knowing you’ve avoided a potential disaster.

The bottom line: breaking up with a client isn’t easy, but sometimes it has to be done. No one enters a contract thinking it will end in a breakup. But sometimes, it’s best to call it quits for both parties.

Interested in learning more industry tips and insight? Visit the Rocket ProSM Insight Learning Center for the latest real estate and housing updates.

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