Active Rain November 7, 2009

Letting a Client Go

I sent a buyer client a Dear John letter this evening, and it was sent with a heavy heart. I have been working with this couple on and off for 2 years now and after this afternoon I realized it was time to tell them I cannot help them. To paraphrase Abe Lincoln, a real estate brokers stock and trade is their time and advice. Your agent’s time is valuable. We cannot be a tour guide; we’ll go bankrupt.

I have enormous patience for people considering a 6 figure purchase. It isn’t done lightly, nor should it be rushed. But 2 years is enough. It isn’t even the length of time, at that, because this past summer I decided to let another buyer go after a month. In both cases, the problem was the same:

You cannot buy a $650,000 house for $400,000.

Real estate markets are highly localized. Westchester County is not Miami, Las Vegas or Pheonix. We aren’t down 50%. Is there play with most sellers? Yes. But you can’t offer a competitively priced house 80 cents on the dollar and justify it with the fact that it hasn’t sold in 90 days. The Mrs. is not the issue; he is. If it were just her they would have bought in late 07 or early 08. She came out hobbled with a cold and was in the car as we spoke in the driveway. I explained to him that this was the best we’ve found, and that he either had to raise his price or make some concessions.

His reply was disconnected; I don’t care about the friend of a friend who bought Shangri La for the back taxes. I’m an agent, and I should have found a steal for my family, right? Wrong, I bought the house my wife wanted. That’s what you do. Those words didn’t resonate with him. It was at that point that I realized this was hopeless. I had to say goodbye to them. If you want to be a wheeler dealer, I suggest baseball cards or ebay. I sell homes.

Not every house is 2009 updated and on a level, square lot at the end of a cul de sac for the same price as one with a 1980 kitchen, a cliff in the back, and a double yellow out front. If it is, it will sell in a day. You either have to raise your price point or lower your expectations if you’ve seen 100 homes and nothing is good enough. In some cases, you’ll also have to find a new agent.

I wish these people the best. I hope this will be a wake up call for them. I have a business to run, and no business survives on window shoppers.