There is Crazy in the Water!

There is Crazy in the Water!

Another spring selling season is now in full swing in Middle Tennessee, and the crazy people are returning from their winter hibernation.  The folks I am speaking of are the buyers, sellers and cooperating agents who cause real estate professionals great stress and anxiety as they manage property listings and sales transactions.  This year, we see even crazier behavior from the “over-medicated, under medicated or not medicated” crowd.

The principal brokers at my company, who I manage, are calling me every day with situations involving clients who are allowing their emotions to get the best of them and electing to walk away from transactions that are only a few days away from closing.  Cooperating agents are doing the same by speaking into various issues outside of their fiduciary responsibility and evoking fear and apprehension in their buyer and seller clients.  Trust me, it is going to be a fun spring and summer of real estate in Middle Tennessee.  There is crazy in the water!

The Last-Minute Temper-Tantrum

A couple of weeks ago, one of our brokers stopped by my office to fill me in on a situation concerning one their agent’s upcoming closing on a listing. The transaction was three days from the closing table, with a “clear to close” issued by the lender and final title and loan documents in the closing file at the title company.  The buyers made their final inspection to check on a few minor repairs they requested in the repair amendment to the contract.  A couple of minor issues cropped up as they looked over two of the repair items they felt were not properly repaired.   The buyers wanted the seller to rectify these issues. 

Their agent informed our agent who, in turn, communicated with the seller about the buyer’s request.  Once the seller learned what the buyer wanted, he became emotional and elected not to close on the transaction and retain the buyer’s earnest money. Remember, the repairs were minor. The seller was mad and wanted to “punish” the buyer. This created a flurry of phone calls, emails and texts between the two agents and their brokers.  The seller was not willing to budge and, in my opinion, allowed his bad feelings toward the buyer get in the way of reasonable thinking.  The title attorney overseeing the closing felt the seller could be in default because he was not acting in “good faith” to address the repairs.  Long-story-short, the deal did close in the end, but not after a lot of “trauma and drama” taking place. 

Buyers Going Behind an Agent’s Back

Another situation came to my attention a few days ago.   One of our brokers informed me of a transaction falling apart because the buyers went behind our agent’s back and made an offer on another house.  The lender (a close family friend) immediately drafted a loan denial letter for the first house and subsequently sent over a loan pre-approval letter for the second house.  Our agent was pretty upset as she was kept out of the loop. These buyers – and, their lender – created some significant issues for the sellers and both agents in the transaction.  The buyers could find themselves purchasing two homes and possibly spending some time in a courtroom defending a lawsuit filed by the first seller – and, maybe the second seller. I encouraged our broker to advise his agent to release the buyers from their agency agreement and focus on finding a client who is not as deceiving as the one with whom she was working.  She did and helped another client get under contract on a home that met their needs.

Let the Screaming Begin!

The last scenario I will share is one that is occurring much more often than in past years.  An upset client calls our office and asks to speak with the principal broker.  The broker takes the call and all he hears on the other end of the line is constant yelling from the client complaining about how our agent was not properly communicated with him.  The client expresses his or her grievance(s) by letting their emotions run wild and screaming at the broker because they feel “injured” by what our agent did or did not do.  Ninety-eight percent of the time, the client is reacting to a situation they cause, or the other party instigates.  All we can do, as brokers and managers, is listen to their ranting or tell them to call back when they are much calmer.  I have hung up the telephone on people who do not let me get a word in to discuss the matter or not willing to listen to me. They are determined to ensure they get their point across to me.  I have little patience for this type of behavior.

Why is Behavior Getting Worse?

As I write in my book Do You Have a Minute? An Award-Winning Real Estate Managing Broker Reveals Keys for Industry Success, client behaviors and the problems they cause for agents, brokers, and others in a real estate transaction are becoming more significant and challenging to manage.  So why are so many more people misbehaving?  There are many reasons for bad behavior and I don’t have enough space to mention all of them in this blog.  

Let me share a few possibilities of what is causing stress and anxiety everyone is feeling these days. 

Too Much Data!

Access to information is easier now that it has ever been. The information overload we all are experiencing has occurred through easy access to communication and data on smartphones, tablets and laptop computers.  As increased Internet access to property information readily available through websites such as Zillow, Trulia, and, so has the expectation of a quick response from a real estate agent to a prospect or client on a multitude of questions, issues, and concerns.  It seems we are constantly texting, emailing or calling to receive and relay information to everyone. And, the person on the other end wants a response NOW!

Emotions Blocking Reasonable Thinking   

Another source of erratic behavior is letting emotions get in the way of making a decision that can jeopardize the transaction for either the buyer, seller or both parties. When emotions replace clear thinking and objectivity, there is nothing but chaos for all involved in the deal.  Sometimes, the agents themselves are the ones who allow their feelings to hamper a successful property closing.  As I noted in my book, REALTORS® can be their own worst enemies.

Psychotropic Prescriptions and Their Effect on Behavior

A third – and very troubling – contributor to lousy behavior could be attributed to the use – or non-use – of prescribed psychiatric drugs.  According to IQvia, a leading health industry technology consulting company, over 150 million Americans are taking prescription medication to control depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders, anti-psychotic behavior, etc.  The proper use of psychotropic drugs can allow individuals to cope with everyday activities and maintain a sense of normalcy in their life.  However, if medicine for behavioral disorders is misused or not used regularly, it can cause significant problems for the patient and the way they communicate to others.  Mental illness is real, and it can lead people to abnormal behavior.  Many agents and brokers are caught in the crosshairs of those who are mismanaging or not taking medicine or have not sought professional help in addressing their behavior(s).  This doesn’t happen very often, but when it does…it is pretty serious.

There are many more reasons “all hell breaks loose” when people show their worst sides.  The three I previously mentioned are pretty common in the real estate world and are ones I have seen first-hand as an agent and principal broker.

Most of the time, “it will work itself out in the end”!   

Finally, what I discover in almost every situation where people are upset about something happening – or not happening – in a transaction is that a solution can be found. We have to remember to stop the ranting and raving, step back and take a few deep breathes.  A long time ago, my late father told me “Don’t worry. It will work itself out in the end.” And, most of the time it does.

For REALTORS®, I share this piece of advice: It is important not to let the bad behavior of clients and cooperating agents get in the way of negotiating a contract or closing a transaction. Trust me, it can be challenging and frustrating. Agents have fiduciary responsibilities they owe to their clients and emotions can interfere with their ability to assist a seller or buyer in a real estate transaction. Remaining calm and collected and being objective will allow an agent to be successful in all the important work they undertake for their clients, customers, and themselves. In the end, it does work itself out.


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