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Navigating Clients’ Needs in Emotional Transactions

Serve as the voice of reason and communicate pertinent information to ease some of the tension that comes along with buying and selling.

March 1, 2019

Working with easygoing clients is an agent’s favorite kind of transaction. Line up several of these in a row and now that agent is living the real estate dream. But the truth is that these transactions are only a small fraction of the real estate business. Most deals have significant emotional components, and agents need to be equipped with skills that will allow them to pivot from one set of circumstances to the next.

Whether it’s a first-time homebuyer filled with anticipation and excitement or an aging couple putting their home on the market as they prepare to move into a retirement community, agents will engage with clients that span the spectrum of emotional needs. At times, buying or selling a property can be marked by angst and even depression. Even new construction can be emotional. Delays in the building process or unmet design expectations can agitate an otherwise even-keel buyer.

Guiding Clients Who’ve Experienced Loss

Marie Butler, a real estate agent with Imperio Real Estate in St. Petersburg, Fla., has built up a business working with families of deceased loved ones who need to sell a property. “It’s really important to show that you care and that you’re there to listen,” Butler explains. With individuals dealing with loss and the burden of selling the estate at the same time, you have to approach the logistics very gently, she says.

First and foremost, she explained, agents must do their best to remove any and all red tape from the situation. “You have to be willing to ask the hard questions: Do the potential clients have an attorney and have the right to sell the property? Is there a will?” In a situation where a loved one has recently passed and emotions are weighing heavy, people might not be thinking logically. They might not have thought to check on the specifics of a will or to contact an attorney, which is why an agent needs to take the reins, she says.

After dealing with the administrative details, handling the transaction with care and concern is crucial. “Patience and understanding go a long way with those who are dealing with loss,” Butler says. “So much is changing so quickly, and it can be so hard on them. It’s easy for an agent to get caught up and forget that.”

Keeping Your Cool When Clients Lose Theirs

For Aaron Bond, an agent with Pineywoods Realty in Tampa, staying calm and collected serves him well in situations where emotions run high. “It’s important as the real estate professional to be the bedrock of the transaction and the bedrock of the client’s best interests.” The details, Bond explains, are important.

“I had a client who was recently widowed, and she was overwhelmed with the repair requests a potential buyer was making,” Bond says. After giving her some time to process, Bond made sure she understood exactly what was being requested and why, which allowed the client to came back to the situation calmer and more collected. Stay patient and then relay the information clearly and concisely, he suggests.

Timing can be just as crucial as relaying details. An agent must be attuned to not only the right tone but also the right time to relay a message. When dealing with emotionally charged situations, it’s best to give clients a little time and space when necessary, says Bond.

An agent who can accommodate the needs of an emotional situation will be able to give superior service from the start rather than trying to do damage control along the way. “Put yourself in your client’s shoes,” says Bond. “Consider what might be affecting them in these situations and give those things some weight. Then give them your best service.”

Nicole Slaughter-Graham

Nicole Slaughter Graham is a freelance journalist and writer based in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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