Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

The American GeniusThe American Genius


Dear Client – You’re Fired!

You're Fired!

Yesterday I came across a tweet from the infamous Ian Watt of Vancouver.  One of the coolest things about Watt is his willingness to shoot straight and he did just that in an article published in the August 2009 edition of REM Magazine entitled, ‘When to Fire Your Clients‘.

You’re Fired!

It’s never easy but I have ‘fired’ clients before.  I returned a listing once to a women that wanted to simply paint over what appeared to be mold.  I have elected not to work with buyers that were unrealistic in there expectations of price and value in a given market.

There was one instance that I returned a listing to a woman that wanted me to be present at every showing of her condo.  In a market that would bring 4 or 5 showings a day, and in a marketplace where agent attended showings are rare, I knew this would only do a disservice to her listing.  The harder it would be to schedule a showing, the less likely it would be to have the showings she needed.  It was less about me, and really more about what served her.  After 6 months on the market with someone else, she called me back and she had it sold in 3 weeks.

The Decision

The word ‘fire’ may not sit well with you; Tyler Wood, phrased it perfect in his Twitter response, ‘…I don’t always refer to it as firing, more of a decision to not work with them.’

The decision to not work with a client is an important one.  Sadly, I think that when markets are challenging, we tend to hang onto those opportunities ignoring the inner voice that says, ‘this isn’t a fit.’  As an active Realtor, we are faced with challenges in transactions, time constraints, and fluctuating market conditions.  I know that spending months with someone that is not a fit, only makes those things more challenging – and ultimately, it’s not a service to them either.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

So What Is a Fit?

For me it’s about looking for a similar level of integrity, realistic expectations, mutual respect, ease of communication, even a personality connection.  Have you ever had to fire a client?  What do you look for to make sure it’s a fit?

Written By

Linsey Planeta is the Broker Owner of Belterra Fine Homes in Orange County, California. Linsey rants regularly on her blog, OC Real Estate Voice. She also provides sellers with tips on how to get their home sold on Why Didn't My Home Sell? She has been an active Real Estate Coach and Instructor and loves working with agents so that they may look at their business with fresh eyes, renewed purpose, and defined systems. Linsey can be found in her office or you can also find her on Twitter@Linsey.



  1. Mariana

    August 19, 2009 at 1:01 am

    I am about to “not work with” a client tomorrow. When goals do not align, it is time to part ways.

  2. Madison real estate

    August 19, 2009 at 1:25 am

    On several occasions I have elected to “not work with” a client, be it a prospective buyer or a home seller. Some of the causes included: abusive or disrespectful behavior, excessive flirting, not listening to pricing advice, ignoring a previously agreed upon strategy, refusing to accept offers (even full price ones), lack of commitment to the process, and an unwillingness to compromise in any way, shape, or form to achieve stated goals. Thanks for the reminder that it is important to qualify upfront each and every prospective buyer and seller (and these days that’s more important than ever!). Time is scarce so ensuring that we give of ourselves only to those who are fully committed to the process of buying and/or selling is the single best way to protect that most precious and valuable resource.

  3. Bryan Myers

    August 19, 2009 at 1:57 am

    What really fits: someone who has needs I know the market can meet and that I can serve. They are pleasant to be with (a huge catch-all category to be sure), and there is an emotional component to it- it’s not just about 3 bedrooms and 2 bath… it’s about getting that college bound student their own room to study in.

    What is tolerable- the second and third thing I mentioned aren’t there but the first still is.

    What I won’t tolerate- dishonesty, not being respectful of my boundaries, hiding things from me that are relavent to the transaction. Bottom line is they need to accept me as their ally rather than just some guy with the right forms and a pen that they can use and abuse.

  4. Joe Loomer

    August 19, 2009 at 7:18 am

    Number one for me is what you stated in closing – “realistic expectations.” Our market – although not California – is down significantly – 48% off 2006 numbers.

    I’ll typically not even list with Sellers who will not price agressively and ahead of the market. Key phrases I listen for are “we don’t really need to sell” – or – “we have a year and a half before we have to move.” Not motivated? Neither am I – The last thing I want is my sign in someone’s yard saying “hey, here’s Joe – he can’t sell this house for six months!”

    I recently “fired” a Seller who continued – against my advice – to hire unlicensed contractors to complete important work. Three losers and several thousand dollars later, the work’s not done, two of the three are in jail, and I’ve lost two signs at the property to kids riding four-wheelers. NEXT!

    Buyers must be realistic and respect your integrity and professionalism. Sometimes providing your sales history helps them understand you’ve worked extensively in their price range. This also allows – especially with first-timers – the tactful reminder that you’ve sold **insert your sales totals here** worth of homes this year, while this is their first time (this works good when you have a couple with that know-it-all relative along for the ride or where you sense the hubbie or wife is an amateur agent in training).

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  5. Elaine Reese

    August 19, 2009 at 11:21 am

    I try to do the selection process prior to signing any representation papers. I doubt that many potential clients realize that we’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing us. However, I have had to “fire” four sellers, but that was earlier in my career when I was less knowledgeable on the signs to listen for as Joe mentioned. Since we’re the one spending marketing money and time, we have to evaluate our decisions based on business, not on emotion. In the past two years, I’ve been hearing many agents mention that they turned down more listings than they took. Agents are sharpening their pencils and analyzing their ROI and that’s going to increase the professionalism which will be a good outcome.

  6. Bob

    August 19, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Its called “Addition by Subtraction”.

  7. BawldGuy

    August 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Regardless of how ‘experienced’ my clients may be, it’s understood they’re using a pro, me or someone else, because they realize it’s needed. Once that attitude goes south, so do I.

    I gently tell them it’s obvious they’re knowledge level is such that they really don’t need my expertise, and their money would no doubt be better spent elsewhere.

    They either get the message, or happily go on their way, and I haven’t offended them.

    Persuading those who fancy themselves as your equal is a lost cause and a huge waste of time. Cut your losses and move on. I’ve even received referrals from those I’ve ‘fired’. Amazing.

    One of the ‘perks’ of doing it this way, is that they almost never call me later for advice, as we’ve already agreed, they don’t need it. That’s actually been actually true two or three times in my experience.

  8. Matthew Hardy

    August 19, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Freedom means never having to work with someone you don’t want to.

  9. Ken Brand

    August 19, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    I’m with Bob – Addition By Subtraction, you gotta know when to “fold’em”.


  10. Paula Henry

    August 22, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Timely – I have one now I should not have worked so hard for. I like Jeff’s response:

    it’s obvious they’re knowledge level is such that they really don’t need my expertise, and their money would no doubt be better spent elsewhere.

    Such class, Jeff!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.



Business Entrepreneur

In theory, business owners know the value of customer service. But in reality, sometimes the bottom line tends to get more emphasis than the...

Tech News

(TECH NEWS) Chatbots have proven themselves to be equally problematic as they are helpful - is it time to let them go the way...

Business Entrepreneur

(ENTREPRENEUR) Growth hacks – they’re not the end all be all of tech startup success, but they’ve certainly give a major boost to those...

Business Marketing

(CUSTOMER SERVICE) Times are changing in the retail environment: a once customer-service driven experience is evolving into a minimalistic customer service approach.


The American Genius is a strong news voice in the entrepreneur and tech world, offering meaningful, concise insight into emerging technologies, the digital economy, best practices, and a shifting business culture. We refuse to publish fluff, and our readers rely on us for inspiring action. Copyright © 2005-2022, The American Genius, LLC.