The 10 Most Irritating Questions We Get as Real Estate Agents (And, How to Answer Them)
Real estate agents have to deal with all kinds of clients. And, no matter how long you’ve been in the business, you can easily tell who is going to be a great client and who is going to give you a run for your money – literally. These days, clients come armed with questions when looking to hire an agent, many of which can catch you off guard. While some of these questions are merely for their protection and knowledge, others can be a little bit intrusive, inappropriate, and down-right irritating.
How can you answer these questions – or, redirect your client – without pushing them into the arms of another agent?
1) “How much will you make off this transaction?”
“None of your business!” should be the correct response to a client that asks you this. However, no agent in their right mind would actually say that. Instead, you can reply with something like, “Well, this is how I pay my bills!”
2) “Am I allowed to…?”
Many agents have reported their buyers asking what they can and cannot do with the house, for instance, whether or not they can have a dog. While the quick response would be, “Of course, you can do whatever you want – you OWN it!” try to take a walk in their shoes for a second.
Chances are, your clients could have been renting for years, perhaps so traumatized by their previous landlords that they simply don’t know how different the rules are when buying. Unless they are buying a home in a strict private community, gently take the time to explain what buying means in terms of what they can and cannot do.
3) “Does this pile of cash count of proof of funds?”
This one has been asked since the beginning of time. Though buyers can certainly use cash to buy a home, they must provide proof on paper, such as a bank statement. If you get this question a lot and you’re tired of answering it, have a system of providing your clients with information about what counts as proof of funds and what does not, as well as a list of the first steps to this entire process. You can have this as an email template that you email out to all your clients, or a print-out/brochure that you can provide after the initial consultation.
4) “How much does your insurance cover?”
If you have a client asking you how much your E & O insurance covers, then this may be a sign to run away. E & O insurance – which all real estate agents should have – protects you if you somehow provide incorrect information or neglect to provide information that’s necessary for your client.
If they are asking you this, it could be a bad sign – that they may try to get information from you that could hurt your career. To reply, you can say, “I can’t share that information, but I’d be happy to answer any concerns you may have.”
5) Extremely personal questions
As if the questions mentioned on this list weren’t already personal enough, one of the most irritating questions real estate agents get asked is explicitly about their personal life, or for the agent’s input in the client’s personal life. Though every individual has their own way of getting comfortable with someone they’re working with, there are boundaries that need to be respected, whether or not they are aware of that.
Sometimes, a coy slap on the arm with a magazine or a squeeze on the shoulder is enough to tell this person to stop, but it’s also fine to redirect them by saying something like, “Haha…let’s get back to business!”
6) “Do I really need an appraisal?” or “Why do I have to pay for repairs?”
If your clients are asking you this, then there are probably several things about the real estate business that they aren’t familiar with, or, they just don’t seem to care about. If they are asking about whether or not they need an appraisal – which should be very concerning – you could educate them by telling them some stories of people who didn’t get an appraisal, and why it’s for their benefit long-term.
Additionally, it can be very frustrating to work with sellers that are not willing to put in any work into their home whatsoever, especially if they are also not willing to lower their asking price. If your sellers ask you about why they have to do repairs themselves, remind them that while they don’t have to do repairs, it’s seriously in their favor to do so. For this, showing them some numbers and facts can help them see the light.
7) “Do any (racist word) people live in this neighborhood?”
There’s nothing worse than the racist client or bigotted client. As excruciating as it is to work with someone who is like this, the fact of the matter is if you turned away every single hateful person, you may not have any clients. The first step is to direct them to a website like City Data where they can learn more about the neighborhood’s demographics. But, if their language is really putting you off, feel free to refer them or part ways altogether.
8) “Can you pay me a referral fee?”
This question, of course, would be from another agent, and it’s one of the most headache-inducing questions we get asked. There are situations that call for referral fees, and situations that don’t. And, if you’re an experienced agent – or, even if you’re a rookie – don’t let someone convince you to pay them their referral fee if they didn’t actually refer someone to you.
If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, then simply outline what counts as a referral fee and what does not. And, in the future, make sure this is always clear before going forward.
9) “Did someone die in this house?”
“Yes, probably.” If you’re selling a house that’s more than 30 years old, there’s a good chance that someone may have died in it. Though it’s completely natural and normal for someone to die in their home – usually how the house gets back on the market in the first place – for some reason, there are clients that are really freaked out by that.
As a reply, you can say something like, “I’m not sure, but there are probably many homes that have had someone pass away in them. What are your concerns?” This way, you can gauge if they are merely asking out of curiosity, or if they have some intense fear about it, which you can try and work around.
10) Offers for sexual exchanges
Unfortunately, many real estate agents – particularly women, but not only women – have reported clients asking for sexual favors, whether as a joke or being completely serious. If this happens, you can decide how you want to go about it, but by no means are you required AT ALL to work with someone that has crossed these boundaries.
That being said, telling a client who makes any kind of advance – whether physical or verbal – to back off, is a lot easier said than done. If you feel unsafe, bring a colleague with you the next time you have to meet with the client, especially if you want to tell them you can no longer work together.
What irritating questions have you received as a real estate agent, and how did you go about answering them without pushing your client (or colleague) away? Let us know in the comments below!