Unrealistic clients? Maybe it's not them. Maybe ... it's you.

We all have them, so you're certainly not alone. You know what I'm talking about: the client who receives an offer $2,000 over full price in one week and wants to reject it. Come on, in this market?! Or the investor who really thinks he will get a $300,000 home for $100,000. It seems like we see more and more of this in our world.

Maybe it's the media, maybe it's the market ... or maybe it's you.

As a real estate manager I hear every story in the book. What makes me cringe is hearing agents complain continuously about their clients. “I can't believe they want to reject a full-price offer!" “They are going to cancel the contract over a furnace inspection!" “My buyer wants me to make an offer $100,000 under asking price!" Remember the cliche, “the client is ALWAYS right."

So what do we do? We can't be frustrated with our clients. In order to create an evangelical customer experience and get more referrals in the future, we cannot be at odds with our clients during the process. The following are a couple of things to remember when you start to hear yourself complaining about your clients.

Put yourself in the client's shoes.

As agents we have to understand that many of these “unrealistic" thoughts and desires that come from our clients are very real in their minds. The majority of the time they are not seeking out ways to be difficult. They really believe in what they are telling you -- that the positions they're taking are logical, understandable, and justifiable.

Maybe a client spoke to a friend of a friend who actually did get a steal on a home. Many of our clients in the current market haven't bought or sold a home in the most challenging real estate climate in recent history. Buyers and sellers are entering this market with experiences from past sales and purchases when the market was in a different state of affairs, and their only current references are media accounts and rumor. Keep in mind that while you may be working with several clients and managing multiple transactions, this is the only real estate transaction going on in their world, so everything is a big deal.

Educate, educate, educate.

The best way to deal with unrealistic expectations is to educate. Create an educational environment right from the beginning of the relationship. Let your client know how the process will work. If you don't tell a seller that the buyer may ask for items to be fixed after the inspection, you cannot blame the seller for an emotional reaction in telling the buyer, “Hell no!" Tell savvy investors that in your market there are no half-priced homes. Back up your educational points with statistical data. Be prepared to help your clients with reports and current market analysis. Think of all the possible pitfalls as you first engaged with client, and educate them upfront.

Let it land.

Listen to these “unrealistic" ideals and requests. As my business partner would say, “Let it land." Take some time to really see where they are coming from. Ask your clients to explain the rational behind the concerns they're having. Your client wants his or her views to be heard. Many times these unrealistic expectations can go away as the client gets the opportunity to get it out and let you know how they feel.

I recently had a client who was upset about the inability to obtain earthquake insurance ... in Colorado ... where we have not had an earthquake of any significance in modern history.

I didn't answer. I just listened, let it pass, and after a day of thinking about it, he was fine moving forward. As the emotion of the home sale progresses, for both buyer and seller, often an issue such as price or inspection will trigger an intense response that will seem unrealistic based on the agent's point of view. That is when we should become a sounding board, an active listener, and let it rest until the emotion subsides. Then we can assist with a reasonable solution to the problem.

It's not personal.

As a manager I cannot tell you how many times I have had agents crying in my office. Keep this in mind: It's not personal! Don't take a client's emotional outburst at you as a personal attack. There are countless circumstances and stressors related to the sale or purchase of a home, and we happen to be there to take the brunt of this. Keep a level head, let the emotional comments glance off, and re-connect at a later time.

It's simple: without clients we have no business. There are all types, and they come with all sorts of requests, desires, and motives. Working with people is one of the best parts of our business. Don't complain about them! If you are complaining about a client, remember that there are thousands of other agents ready to take that client from you.

Good luck and strive for success in 2012.

You can contact Eric at eric@breakthoughbroker.com.