Diagnosis:  Lack of Buyer Motivation
Key Symptom:  Failure to Progress

I certainly don’t do it often, but every couple years or so I find it necessary to “fire” a Buyer I’ve been working with.

Or shall I say “non-Buyer.”

While the specifics can and do vary, the root cause is invariably the same:   lack of motivation.

Once you’re honest with yourself, the signs tend to be multiple and anything but subtle.

Oddly, however, the more time you’ve invested in a client, the harder it can be to see those obvious signs — and let go.  

Economists recognize this phenomenon as refusing to write off “sunk costs.”

Popularly known as “throwing good money after bad,” the real estate equivalent would be “throwing good time after bad.”

“Throwing Good Time After Bad”

As a service to my Realtor colleagues, then, herewith is a checklist (or at least mine) of when that might be happening:

•After months of working with the client, not only does their home search seem not to be progressing, they actually seem to be going backwards (i.e., getting further from finding a home that meets their criteria);

•You (still) have no crystallized image of what they’re looking for after 10, 20 or even more(!) showings (with serious Buyers, that profile kicks in much earlier);

•If they do have clear, realistic criteria, and you show them something that meets them, they find a reason to reject it.

Or multiple reasons.

Or can’t find the time to go look.

Of course, writing a series of unrealistically low offers also betrays a lack of Buyer motivation.

Realtor Motivation > Client Motivation

The clincher?

Instead of being excited about working with the client and helping them with their home search, you find the relationship demoralizing, and affecting your attitude towards your other clients.

When that’s the case, it’s usually best for all parties concerned to let the Buyer Rep contract runs its course if it’s close to expiring, or cancel it if it’s not.

What happens next?

In my experience . . . usually nothing.

On the handful of occasions that I’ve run into such former clients, I usually discover that they’re living . . . in exactly the same place as when we initially met.

P.S.:  And yes, asking lots of questions during the interviewing stage helps winnow out unmotivated Buyers — but obviously isn’t 100% effective.

See also, “Fussy Buyers, Fussy . . . Realtors.”

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

Leave a Reply