Every real estate agent remembers their first difficult buyer. Whether it’s a lack of communication, unclear expectations, unrealistic expectations, or buyers who seem to know it all, a difficult buyer can be a challenge for even the most seasoned real estate agent or broker. But instead of seeing a high-maintenance buyer as an obstacle, you can see it as an opportunity to practice communication, patience, self-control, and effective communication. 

Look for the why

Before you write off a buyer as difficult, seek to understand where they are coming from. Buying a home can be a high-stress event, and stressful situations bring out the worst in people. Why are they moving? Did they lose a job? Was there a death in the family? Are they relocating because of a health issue or divorce? Even if the circumstances around their move is not negative, the weight of buying a new home can be stressful. Maybe they’ve had bad experiences with real estate professionals before and are coming into the professional relationship with a hyper-critical mindset. 

Think about the last time you bought a home. Think about all of the time, money, and energy you had to devote to the process. Think back to feeling pressured for time, overwhelmed, and maybe even under-supported. When you can understand why a buyer is being difficult, it can be easier to empathize with them and modify your strategy to help serve them better.

Watch Your Language

In any profession, sometimes it’s not about what you say but how you say it. Real estate is no different. Be aware of the way you phrase your questions or concerns to your buyer, and keep an eye on your body language and tone. Here are a few phrases you can use to diffuse conflict and make sure the buyer feels heard. These things can help remind the buyer that you’re on their team, and you have their best interest in mind. These phrases are powerful for learning and listening:

  • “Thank you for your feedback. I appreciate your honesty.”
  • “Can you tell me more about that? I want to understand.”
  • “I wasn’t aware of that. Can you tell me more about that?”
  • “How can I support you?” 
  • “Let’s walk away from this and revisit it tomorrow/next week.”
  • “I see how much pressure you’re under. I know this is a stressful time.”
  • “I see how hard you’re working and appreciate your efforts.” 

Being aware of what you are saying, how you are saying it, and how it could be perceived.

Stand Firm And Set Boundaries

Top real estate agents and brokers find the balance between being empathetic and realistic. You can seek to understand a client while still setting boundaries. There are things you can and will do, and there are things you can’t. Don’t tiptoe around these things or provide false hope in an attempt to satisfy a difficult buyer. When you say no, mean it. If you waiver, they will know they can push you on other issues. Be clear about your hours, your modes of communication, and other things that you will or won’t do as their real estate representative. Do not work for a client that is dishonest or disrespectful, or who has repeatedly overstepped the boundaries that you’ve set.

Be Willing To Teach

Buying a home can be overwhelming, especially for first-time buyers or those who aren’t familiar with the industry. Taking the time to help buyers understand each part of the process can help ease their anxiety. Remember, a lot of what you do is easy for you because you’ve been trained for it, you’ve experienced it, and you understand it. All of this is new to your buyer and could be overwhelming. Taking the time to educate your clients and involve them in the process can help them feel more in control. 

Stay Calm

High-maintenance clients can make everything feel very personal. They can redirect their frustrations to you, but it is important to stay calm and stay professional. You are there to do a job, and even when buyers make it difficult, you have a reputation to uphold. Stay calm, stay professional, and check your ego at the door. If they are elevated, it’s your job to stay calm.

The Takeaway

While there are online real estate courses and continued education classes you can take to improve your real estate strategy, the only way to get good at dealing with high-maintenance clients is to deal with high-maintenance clients. The key to a successful professional relationship with your buyers is clear boundaries, empathy, and open and transparent communication. When you can see a challenging buyer as an opportunity instead of an obstacle, it can change the way you work.