A very important part of your job as a real estate professional is to keep deals together. This means paying attention and keeping your little red flag radar tuned in.
Little red flags do not mean a deal is going down the toilet. But many little red flags can add up and can trigger a big flush. Pay attention.
You may encounter a big red flag and those need to get your attention big time.
Your skill at paying attention to these flags will increase with experience. When a buyer or seller hires a truly experienced agent, it’s actually one of the most valuable things the client is paying for … the client is paying for red-flag radar, identification, and maneuvering skills. The busier you get, the more critical this skill becomes.
Pay attention to these red flags and keep your deals together:
1. Poor communication from any single person in the transaction.
Whether buyer, seller, either Realtor, the lender or title company, poor communication can be an indication of an underlying issue. Do not sweep poor communication under the rug simply as poor communication. It can be evidence of a larger issue or an issue behind the scenes. Start asking questions.
2. Lack of progress.
Your client or the lender or title, they are not doing what they said they would do. If someone is slow to respond or doesn’t get important things done, it doesn’t just mean that they are slow. It can mean they are not motivated or they are running in to obstacles or overwhelm that they are not discussing with you. Start asking questions.
3. Distrust build-up.
Let’s say you are in a transaction where the other party, the other side of the transaction, is truly difficult or rude or unprofessional or exhibiting lousy communication skills. Maybe the negotiation was rough; it happens. You’re miserable, you’re avoiding their calls. Here’s the key: keep things moving forward and do not share your angst with your client. If you share your angst or frustration with your client, not only is it unprofessional, but the distrust begins. You’ll end up with a client who refuses to negotiate on something simple simply because they no longer like the other party. You may really need that trust factor at a critical point late in the transaction. As best you can, keep everyone happy and working together.
High emotions tend to be evidence of larger issues. Communication is key. Be the professional who asks a lot of questions, provides a roadmap, and is always setting expectations. If you have a client who is prone to high emotion, outbursts, or panic, consider these tips:
Delayed response – wait an hour before returning the call. Things tend to calm down. If you respond immediately, then you’ll end up participating in the drama.
The 9pm phone or text. Most successful agents are not on-call 24/7. If you return the call or text at 9pm, you just trained your client that that is ok. Unless at a critical deadline, I like returning the 9pm phone call with an 8am call, “Good morning. I got your message. What’s up?”
No surprises. Always let your client know what is next.
5. Mom and Dad.
Other family members involved or newly involved. All of a sudden, with little notice, Mom & Dad have made the trip across state to come inspect the house the young couple is about to purchase. Chances are Mom & Dad will have sticker shock at how expensive homes are in the city. And every family member may find the need to identify one thing wrong with the house. Prepare to be interviewed.
6. Financing changes.
Switching from financing to cash, not so much a big deal. Switching from cash to financing, that’s a big deal. Increasing the down payment, not so much a big deal. Decreasing the down payment, can be an indication of issues with loan qualification. Switching lenders, red flag. Poor communication from lender, red flag. Adding or removing a party to the contract or loan, red flag. Hopefully your buyer is working with a lender you trust with a proven record. Always, always require pre-approval before you start with a buyer … because if you don’t, the red flag is your fault.
7. Driving the bus.
You should be driving the bus, not your client. If you do not have control over the process, you’ll be running every which way to keep your client happy. You don’t tell your dentist what to do or your attorney when to return your phone call. Be the leader, the professional, the driver of the bus.
The last tip is this: you may be part of the problem. If you are somewhat consistently running in to these types of client issues, take a look at yourself, your process, and your systems before you let off steam because your client is being difficult. You may need to tighten up your pre-client presentation to establish a more solid foundation and expectations before you get started. You may need to hire an assistant. You may be so hungry for that next client that you make the mistake of taking on clients you should not have taken on. If the clients’ expectations are unreasonable or they are not valuing what you bring to the table or their needs are outside of your expertise or availability, then you probably should not have taken on that client in the first place.
Remember this, everyone has the same goal in the transaction, the goal of transferring ownership from one person to another. The Realtor’s job is to administer the contract and manage the process of getting that done. Staying on top of red flags is an important skill in that process.