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We’d like to think that being a real estate agent is always a joy. You’re always helping someone move up and move into something better.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Sometimes clients come to us because they are in the middle of a very difficult or stressful time. Divorce, downsizing, or losing a spouse can all cause someone to need to buy or sell a home.
As real estate professionals, it can be difficult to help clients with real estate when their personal problems seem overwhelming. Here are ways you can keep it professional while still being compassionate.
Refer Clients to Appropriate Professionals
While we sometimes feel like therapists or counselors, most of us are not qualified to fill these roles. It’s tempting to simply be there as a “listening ear,” but then our contribution as real estate agents is lost in the shuffle.
Instead, draw some strong but compassionate boundaries in your business. When someone is going through a very difficult time, let them know that you care and that you want them to have the best help they can get. Which means they should talk to someone other than you.
It can be especially helpful if you have connections with therapists or counseling services in your area. These folks will be much more helpful to the client than you will, and it will keep you from having to carry the emotional burden.
Focus on Real Estate
People who are going through difficult times are often very unfocused. They have a hard time staying on track, and may not be good at making decisions.
As a real estate professional, this is where you can really shine. Keep things moving on the home sale or purchase. Ask questions to keep your client on track. Narrow choices down so they only have to choose between two or three things, not 50.
It can also be helpful to bring out the positive aspects of the transition. When done with sensitivity, this can help the transaction move forward smoothly.
As an impartial professional, you can give a clear-eyed view into what might be a very emotional situation for your client. This impartial advice is extremely valuable, and you shouldn’t feel bad about separating your emotions from the transaction.
Understand When They’re Just Not Ready
Not everyone in a difficult life situation is ready to buy or sell a home. We never like to “fire” clients, and it can be especially hard when someone is struggling. However, there are times you simply have to realize they are not ready, and walk away.
You do a lot of marketing to get a client, so it’s hard to cut someone off. But unless you want to be going back and forth with a grieving widow about selling her home for several years, you need to have a point at which you step away and check back at a better time.
The good news is that many times when you return to the situation months later, the client has worked through their grief and emotions and is in a much better place to pursue a real estate transaction. You can end up with a dream client if you just wait a little while.
Do you have any advice for handling clients who are in a rough spot? How do you keep it professional? Share in the comments!