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How To Breakup With A Difficult Client

Carey Chesney3 minute-read
July 28, 2022


Let’s be honest, breaking up is hard to do. Any relationship, personal or professional, can be tough to end. Sometimes it’s the best path forward, but that doesn't mean it’s easy.

Real estate agents and their clients often form a substantial bond during their work together. Buying or selling a home is a big financial and emotional journey, so deep connections are often formed during the process. That makes breaking up hard to do.

However, sometimes it just needs to be done. Read on to learn how to approach this sensitive issue so if and when you face it, you’ll be ready.

Reasons To End The Relationship With A Client

While it’s never your first choice, there are a number of reasons you might need to break up with a client.

We know it’s a stressful time and clients might have a bad day every now and then. That said, if a client is repeatedly rude or disrespectful, it might be time for them to go.

Unrealistic expectations can lead to a breakup as well. Be clear about the budget, timeline, communication preferences, and response time in the beginning. If your client does not respect these expectations during the process, it might be time to move on.

Sometimes, people like to look at houses but aren't actually ready to buy or sell. If this sounds like one of your clients, a partial breakup – a pause – might be a good idea.

How To Breakup With A Difficult Client

If you have identified a client that falls into one of these categories, you might be wondering how to cut the cord, so to speak. Here are a few tips to get you started on your client breakup.

Review Your Contract

First, take a long look at the contract you’ve signed with them, whether it be a listing contract or buyer agency agreement. Most contracts have a number of clauses that address how and when each party can dissolve the contract.

Get It In Writing

Write up a mutual release and show it to your broker before sending it to your clients. Make sure all parties sign and keep a copy of it for your records. This will protect you later if any legal action is taken. A simple chat and verbal break up won't cut it.

If your clients refuse to sign a mutual release, get your broker involved. Many times, a third party talking to your clients can help provide a somewhat objective point of view they will listen to. The emotional elements that have likely contributed to the breakup might be able to be pushed aside.

If they still won't sign the mutual release, it’s time to get lawyers involved on both sides. Once this happens, do not communicate directly with your clients. All communications should go through the established legal channels.

Be Respectful And Transparent

Emotions often come into play when it comes to breakups. Try not to let them come out in communications with your clients. Be respectful when communicating, even if you have a few “choice words” you’d like to share.

Be transparent as well. If you made a mistake, be honest about that. This can go a long way in repairing a relationship or at least ending it on good terms.

Provide A New Referral

Don’t leave your clients high and dry when you break up with them. Always offer to refer them to a different agent who might be able to better meet their needs. Sometimes you can secure a referral fee for this, ensuring that the time you spent working for them isn’t a complete financial loss.

How To Avoid Difficult Clients

Sometimes, the best way to avoid breakups is to avoid the types of clients who aren't the right fit to begin with. Set clear expectations in the beginning and make sure your potential clients are comfortable with them. You can refer to these expectations later if things start going south. Or they can decide to go with a different real estate agent in the beginning if they don't feel like your expectations meet their needs.

The Bottom Line: Breaking Up With A Client Isn't Easy, But Sometimes It Has To Be Done.

No real estate agent enters into a contract with clients thinking it will end in a breakup. Sometimes, though, it needs to happen. Use these tips to help make that process as easy and cordial as possible. Interested in learning more? Explore the Rocket ProSM Insights Learning Center for the latest real estate and housing updates.

Carey Chesney

Carey Chesney brings a wealth of residential and commercial real estate experience to readers as a Realtor® and as a former Marketing Executive in the fields of Health Care, Finance and Wellness. Carey is based in Ann Arbor and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he majored in English, and Eastern Michigan University, where he recieved his Masters in Integrated Marketing & Communications.