Real Estate Investing Basics

5 Simple Ways to Be an Attractive Client (From a Real Estate Agent’s Point of View)

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate News & Commentary, Real Estate Investing Basics
44 Articles Written

Something annoying happened this week and while trying to get my mind straight, I Googled “how to stop fixating on the world’s most annoying situation,” and one positive suggestion was to make the frustration a teaching moment. Learn from it. Breathe. Take a walk. Journal. Whatever. Move on.

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And I think that’s great advice, so I’m going to try to turn my mishap into a positive outcome and talk broadly here about how to be an attractive client so that the best agents want to work with and for you (and at the same time, do some mental sorting to help prevent a repeat of this week).

Here we go.

5 Simple Ways to Be an Attractive Real Estate Client

1. Be transparent.

Smart people should interview different agents, ask different questions, and then decide. They should have an exploratory phase and go with the agent who matches their style and interests best. All agents understand this (or should) and will not take offense to this situation. The only thing we ask from you is honesty. Let us know where you are in your research, when you are making your decision, and what stakeholders are involved. This is not only more fair to us, but it lets us serve you better and save time. 

More to the point: I want your mom or dad on the phone too if your mom or dad is ultimately the decision maker. And don’t feel weird about that if you’re new to investing or home-buying. Your parents love you more than I do, they have your best interests in mind, and I totally get that. (My mom was a huge part of my first real estate buy.) I just need to know who all the players are.


Related: Why You Should Stop Looking for an “Investor-Friendly” Real Estate Agent

2. Talk to a lender.

Talk to a lender. Talk to a lender. Talk to a lender. This is important for two reasons:

  1. I need to know what we’re shopping with here, and
  2. I want to know you’re serious enough to do some of the lifting on your own.

(Side note: Local lenders are better. National lenders are not as motivated to help you. It’s a volume game at the national level versus a quality game locally.)

3. Be up front about what’s important to you.

A good agent/professional can’t read your mind, but can and should meet the needs of their clients, so be direct with them about what you want. For instance, some of my clients want me to send them stuff that I think works for their numbers. Some of my clients just want to know what to pay. And some of my clients value prompt communication most. I’m happy to do whatever you prioritize—you’re my client. But I like knowing what you really value up front so that I can make that my focus.

4. Recognize commissions exist for a reason.

Cheapest isn’t always best. I definitely feel this way about my dentist, and I hope people feel that way about real estate agents. This is the biggest financial decision you’ll likely make in your life, so it’s reasonable to pay for a professional just as you would for any other service. (Also, when you think about it, a more experienced agent potentially will save you more than the cost of their commission because they get you a higher price on your place or bargain down the cost of what you are buying.)


Related: 3 Ways to Create Your Own Inventory as a Real Estate Agent

5. Keep your cool.

A friend is considering hiring me and asked me what the most unpleasant experience was that I’d ever had with a client. (By the way, I thought this was a great question and something someone should definitely ask of any agent and maybe any professional they work with.)

The answer is that my own client hung up on me once, and I was pissed. Real estate deals involve a lot of emotions and a lot of money. It’s reasonable to feel vulnerable, stupid, or scared during some of it—but keep your cool. We are all in this together. We all want a win. And the best way to get that is to keep talking: to me, to the other side, to the professionals.

Well, I feel better. That was almost as satisfying as a half bottle of sauvignon blanc. In all seriousness, though, this is a two-way relationship. Clients are important, but to be successful with real estate, you need a good agent and a good client to get to the win.

Any tips you’d add to this list?

Weigh in with a comment! 

Erin Spradlin co-owns James Carlson Real Estate. She loves working with first-time home buyers or sellers because it is fun to help people real...
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    Wanda Arterberry
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Please correct my name.
    Austin Rath Rental Property Investor from Goodview, VA
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    I love this! It’s great to hear what an agent needs from their client. I did not do this while I was searching for an agent. I used someone by recommendation and didn’t give them as much information that they really needed to help me where I needed to. Other things happened in that relationship leading me to find someone else, through bp! Had I read this before hand though it could have saved me some time and aggravation. My new agent is great, she invests in the area where I want to be, and she is very patient with me. We have not closed a deal yet, but with constant communication and evaluation we continue to make progress forward. Thanks for the insight! I’m sure many others, especially newbies like me will find this helpful. It’s short, simple and very actionable for anyone.
    Erin Spradlin Real Estate Agent from Denver, CO
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Thanks, Austin. That’s really nice to hear… I didn’t know how people would react to this, so I’m glad you liked the article. – Erin
    Nicolas Bianchetta Rental Property Investor from Hudson Valley, NY
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    It’s typical to see information about finding the “right” real estate agent to work with for RE investing. This article is unique because it talks about the other side of the relationship, something not many other people mention. My guess would be that the more likable a client is to a real estate agent and vise versa, the higher the chances are of a positive outcome for both parties. Thank you for sharing your point of view as a real estate agent!
    Erin Spradlin Real Estate Agent from Denver, CO
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Totally. It goes without saying that professionals represent clients and it’s the profession that they have their licensing with and so they follow the standards of that profession and should serve everyone equally. That said, it makes the transaction and experience nicer, more seemless, etc. if everyone has the same information and wants the same thing.
    Account Closed from Alexandria, Virginia
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Great article Erin, thanks for posting it! I was wondering if you would change or add anything to this list when looking at it from the perspective of someone who just flipped a house and is trying to find an agent to sell their finished project? I think 1,3,4, & 5 apply to any transaction, but 2 wouldn’t in this situation. Thank again!
    Erin Spradlin Real Estate Agent from Denver, CO
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    No, I think the basics hold: 1. keep your cool; 2. be transparent; 3. respect commissions; 4. be clear with your lender and yourself about what is important to you. Maybe that’s just good life advice as well though. 🙂
    Katie Rogers from Santa Barbara, California
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    It would be great if buyer’s agents actually took their fiduciary duty to their clients seriously, but never forget all agents work for their broker, not for you.
    Erin Spradlin Real Estate Agent from Denver, CO
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    @katie rogers – I don’t appreciate that comment as I’m sure many other agents on this site do not. That’s not true, nor fair, to the professionals in this industry that (like myself) take helping someone with a decision like this very seriously- as well as the licensing associated with it.
    Katie Rogers from Santa Barbara, California
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Whether anyone likes the comment is immaterial. It is a fact that even though buyer’s agents put themselves out there as putting their client’s interest first, actually they put their broker’s interests first. One way they justify it to themselves is by narrowly defining their clients interest. Buyers think it means that their agents will use their expertise to advise them against unwise decisions. Buyer’s agents think it means using their expertise to get the buyer to close on a house–after all, they are a buyer, and they bought a house.
    Erin Spradlin Real Estate Agent from Denver, CO
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Okay, Katie.
    Cornelius Charles Investor from Oxnard, California
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Katie, i don’t think your “fact” is a fact at all, since all agent’s are different and have different motivations/morals. There are bad apples in every field. My guess would be that some agents do as you are suggesting, but i would wonder how well those agents actually do in the long run. And no, i’m not a realtor.
    Katie Rogers from Santa Barbara, California
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Let’s put it this way. It is a fact that agents work for their broker. That is one reason why even if the buyer’s agents is a different person from the seller’s agent, if both agents work for the same broker, it is considered a dual-agency situation.
    Taione Sikivou
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Hey thanks Erin for writing this article. I have watched James and your video series about AirBnB and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have defined the criteria for the AirBnB property i am looking to invest in and have started hunting the market on my own. I am now trying to get a Real Estate Agent on my team to help things go faster and thus am reading as much as i can on BP! I really appreciate this article as it helps to see things from a different perspective in the ultimate pursuit of reaching my real estate purchase goal.