Commercial Real Estate Agent – Toxic Clients Need to be Managed

Commercial real estate brokerage has its fair share of ‘toxic clients’ to work with and handle; I think I have seen most variations of the difficult clients that are out there.  They are those people that typically think they know better than everyone else in the property market and decline to listen to the market indicators or the facts of the property negotiation.  They then do not appreciate what damage they are doing to their property listing and marketing processes.

Any property sale or lease can be a sensitive process.  In many respects the tenants or buyers to the listing have the initial control in putting in an offer; retaining their interest in the property deal is the job of the agent and you don’t need a tough client then derailing the negotiation.

With any single property listing it is likely that you may only have a small handful of buyers or tenants to work with.  The realities of the property market must feed into the negotiation to help you get the parties to agree.  If you have a ‘toxic client’ to work with, be very aware of what is said, done, and evidenced; many a client has a ‘hidden plan’ to the process of property sale and or lease.  They can slow a deal, shift the facts, and leave you wide open to legal action.

As an agent you have a choice; you can work with these clients or avoid them; either way you should control your interactions with them professionally so they do not waste your time or frustrate your business.

Typically a ‘tough toxic client’ will present you with problems such as these:

  • Not wanting to pay for property marketing
  • Avoiding your telephone calls at critical times in negotiation
  • Failure to put a market price or rent on the property
  • Not listening to the facts of the negotiation
  • Not choosing the best method of sale or lease
  • Questioning everything you do without allowing the deal to progress
  • Not paying a full and fair commission for the work involved
  • Not paying marketing funds ‘up front’ before the campaign commences
  • Negotiating down your commission after settlement
  • They listen to other agents before they accept your information
  • Not wanting to give you an exclusive listing when it is a critical part of your recommendations
  • Making promises they do not keep
  • Not signing paperwork on time
  • Holding back on information and facts about the property
  • Telling you one thing and negotiating with other agents at the same time
  • Negotiating direct with tenants and buyers to avoid commissions
  • Lifting the price or rent after listing
  • Moving the ‘goal posts’ on any deal or negotiation after the deal has started
  • Telling lies or manipulating the truth in what they provide you about the property
  • Not signing the listing paperwork quickly or correctly
  • Not supplying you with all the property facts or information
  • Not giving you instructions or information in written form

All of these things can frustrate your marketing momentum and property negotiations.  Look for the signs of a difficult client, and when in any doubt stop the property marketing process and wait until the client responds.  That is the only leverage that you can apply with some of these clients.  Document everything that is said and communicated with a ‘difficult client’; you are quite likely to need proof and evidence to support your actions at a later time.

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