Unprofessional Commercial Real Estate Clients
Commercial real estate can be a difficult row to hoe. Clients can be pressed for time and money, and many of these investments can be enormously stressful to clients who aren’t used to dealing with large sums of money. Just like commercial real estate agents, some clients are easy to work with and some are difficult. Here are some types of difficult commercial real estate clients that you should learn to recognize so you can save yourself the time and effort of working with them for an extended period.
The Time Waster
This type of client is slow to make a decision and frequently has to “sleep on it“ or “needs a few days“ to decide. While there is nothing wrong with taking time to decide, a client that fails, again and again, to make a logical, smart choice when presented with sufficient information is a client that does not fully understand the market or their business. These clients need constant hand-holding, and you still may never close a deal with them because they are so afraid to commit to a specific direction. These clients can have new needs nearly every time you deal with them, and while many times this is a true case of a client not knowing what they want, this can also be a distraction technique that they hope will keep you, as an agent or broker, too busy to recognize that they might not be completely serious about this transaction.
Some people just can’t, or won’t, be helped, and once you figure out that this is the type of client you’re dealing with, it’s usually best if you send them on their way. These clients have a way of escalating their needs as time goes on, and eventually, they become less decisive and needier.
The Habitual Player
This type of commercial real estate client works hard to pit multiple agents against one another, only letting this information drop at times when they feel like they need more leverage and believe that revealing this piece of information will help them get it. Many of these clients will give themselves away before their ultimate end game; however, because they love to vaguely reference knowledge about other properties that you haven’t shown them or other agencies that aren’t yours.
These clients will lie straight to your face about having changed their stripes too, so be careful about working with a previously known “player.“ These clients sincerely believe that it is the right and privilege to work with as many agents as they like, for whatever purposes they see fit, and they have no concern for the fact that they are taxing multiple agencies and regulators.
The Financially Questionable
Some clients who are in the process of leasing commercial real estate have never signed anything more complex than a car lease, so it’s not necessarily their fault when it eventually comes to light that they or the business they represent cannot afford the kind of space they, and you, have been searching for. Many of these clients do not understand the true costs of renting office space and the price for things like custom build outs and moving offices.
You can help these types of clients, and yourself, by always striving to be completely transparent about the costs of commercial real estate properties from the very beginning. You might not take on as many clients, but you’ll save yourself plenty of time and hassle.
Some business people love the idea of searching for and finding, the perfect space for their business. The problem is, they just aren’t ready to commit to a commercial lease. Maybe they want to “see what’s out there“ or they need to find something that meets every single need of every single employee: a practically impossible task. These clients will want to look at a huge number of properties, but they will always find something wrong with every one of them. A good client should trust their broker to give them the facts and lead them in the right direction. They will also trust your expertise in maintaining a negotiation position with a landlord, and the longer a client fails to commit, the weaker this position becomes. This can put not only your commission in limbo but also can cost the client more money or the right property in the end. If you have a client that seems to want to look at a ridiculous number of properties, all the while ignoring your advice, you might have a not-yet on your hands. Encourage them to come back to you when they’re ready to commit.
The Wise Guy
This client knows all about the commercial real estate market. They’ve seen everything and done even more. They scoff at your advice and behave in an illogical manner just to show you that they know it all. These clients are huge trouble because they can often compromise your position by going behind your back to a landlord or another broker. Luckily they are very transparent, and you can almost always spot a wise guy on your first meeting.
They’re likely to dismiss your suggestions or tell you they’ve already seen that property. They are late, don’t show up, and are generally disrespectful of both your time and your expertise. While these clients might eventually net you a commission, it’s up to you whether they are truly worth the trouble or not. One way to deal with them is to always defer to them in conversation, but then still treat them as you would any other client. Saying things like, “I know you’ve already seen it, but I’d love to check it out. Won’t you join me?“ can help make it clear that you value their opinion. This tactic can occasionally turn the tide in your favor and make the wise guy a long-term client. However, if you find them impossible to deal with don’t waste your time or the landlords.