Business & Real Estate

A good real estate agent? What about what makes a good client?

I have the great pleasure of being allowed into the lives of my real estate clients during what is arguably one of the more stressful times of their lives. They allow me to take over and manage the delicate and complicated process of buying or selling a house.

We hear a lot about what makes a good agent, but what about what it takes to be a good client?

Q: What qualities do you see in your best buyer and seller clients?

A: It usually boils down to a few key characteristics: trust, communication, involvement/participation, patience and flexibility.

Q: Which of those characteristics is most important?

A: Trust. Clients need to trust that the agent they have chosen has their best interests at heart. Trust will permeate a transaction, from bringing in trusted contractors to connections with trusted lenders or advice on what sort of a purchase offer to make or whether contingencies are good or not. If you don’t trust your agent to be looking out for you, you need a new agent. (Caveat: An agent agreeing to a discount is not always a signal that he or she has your best interests foremost.)

Q: Why is communication important? Shouldn’t you already know what I want?

A: A real estate transaction is made up of hundreds of moving pieces, and if you don’t make clear your wishes, wants, preferences, etc., you are bound to have problems down the line.

Q: What sorts of miscommunications do you see?

A: Some are really basic: How do you like to communicate? Phone? Text? Email? Do you want me to update you with every little detail as it happens, or would you rather only hear from me when I need something? If hiccups occur along the way, do you want to know about them, or do you just want them to be resolved?

Q: What do you mean by participation/involvement?

A: A real estate agent is a bit like an orchestra leader: overseeing the entire process as individual musicians each do their part. Clients can’t sit back and just “listen to the music” – they have to be active players. When your agent needs your help, needs you to prepare disclosures, needs you to read the disclosures, etc., you need to listen. The more you are involved, the more successful you will be.

Q: In this fast market, why is patience so important?

A: Some things just take time, so trust your agent when he or she tells you, for example, that you haven’t received an offer after just six hours on the market, that the homeowners association documents may take some time to get or that your lender preapproval needs more time.

Q: Why do I need to be flexible? Isn’t it pretty cut and dried?

A: It never is. Every transaction is different. It is impossible to predict what may happen within any sale or purchase. Every time I think I’ve seen it all, something new comes up. Always wearing your “flexibility hat” will allow you to be prepared for whatever happens.

Q: If you had to describe your best clients, what would they look like?

A: The clients who have the most success in a transaction are the ones who trust their agent, defer to their knowledge and experience, yet are involved enough and educate themselves about the process enough to know how to ask the right questions. They are responsive to requests yet understand that some things just take time.

Q: Have you ever had a problem client?

A: Unfortunately, yes. The ones who stand out in my mind are the ones who feel that they know all the answers, know more about the market and the process than anyone else, second-guess every decision. These types of people end up shooting themselves in the foot, being dissatisfied with the process and blaming everyone other than themselves.

Owen Halliday is a realtor who manages the Sereno Group office in downtown Los Altos. Text or call him at 492-0062 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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