Confessions of a Singapore Estate Agent: Why I Had to Ditch My Worst Client Ever, Lifestyle News
We have all heard the terrible stories of agents.
Fooling unsuspecting buyers, always pushing new launches for the high commission, hiding details that could break the deal – it’s no wonder many think an agent’s job is akin to that of a a snake oil seller.
But even though there are many cases of bad agents, we rarely hear about what happens on the other side of the coin.
Many people forget that the real estate industry is actually about people – it’s all about relationships.
As such, dealing with people while maintaining good quality service can sometimes be overwhelming, especially if your reputation is at stake.
It’s definitely not an easy business to run, and it’s certainly not a walk in the park as many “top” agents claim it is in order to attract more agents to their team.
A big issue that many agents face is their experience with clients.
Overall, most clients are doing well. But there are always bad eggs that can make life very difficult.
Most agents don’t want to share those experiences either, for fear of being ostracized – which is why you rarely hear about some of the tough stories agents have to go through.
And so, as someone who works with both sides of the equation, let me share with you one of the worst customer experiences I’ve encountered.
(For obvious reasons, I won’t share real names here).
Tracy’s experience as a rookie agent
Like anyone starting out in a new job, there will always be a steep learning curve.
From trying to master the ever-changing real estate market and rules, to learning the nuances of handling tricky clients and agents, and having to prospect for new clients, it’s is almost like starting your own business.
And that really doesn’t help for most of the trip – you’re basically on your own.
So as a new agent, Tracy had to figure it all out on her own, “unless you picked a good mentor, most team leaders aren’t the most helpful,” she said. revealed.
“Agents all follow the type of herd mentality. At that time, everyone was spending money on flyers to prospect, so I blindly followed because I didn’t want to be left out.”
She did it for three months, but the results were dismal. Just two calls, and one of them hung up when he found out she was a new agent.
It was getting desperate.
In the middle of the 4th month, she received her third call. He was an investor who owned three properties!
When first meeting, he told her he had other agents he worked with but was looking for someone new he could trust. And he didn’t seem fazed at all when she told him honestly that she was still new to the business.
He wanted to sell one of his properties and apparently chose her flier because she had a “beautiful smile”.
It didn’t occur to him at all that it sounded too good to be true.
“I would have taken anything at that time,” she replied. “I felt like things were looking up and it was great to gain someone’s trust.”
Tracy always wanted to convince clients with sincerity and do her best, and she was determined to go all-in.
“I made a presentation and then asked him to give me an exclusive to market his unit for sale,” she said. “He looked at me with a calculated wry smile, then said, do a good job first, and he’ll have other business for me,” she said.
“What could I do? I knew from my peers that it wasn’t ideal, but I figured I had to do what it took to earn his business,” she added.
So, she agreed and he passed her the keys to the apartment, and told her to put it in good order to sell it.
To his horror, the place was in bad shape. It was dirty, moldy, and in some places there was a weird damp smell.
“I expected to do some tidying up, and I even brought some cleaning supplies,” she explained. “But that was too much, how could I be expected to clean up the space on my own?”
Tracy then called the owner asking for help paying for a decent cleaning service, but he had none.
“He told me that his former agents offered him that as part of the package, and if I didn’t want to continue he could easily find another agent.”
She was starting to feel like she was just being used, but she felt she just had to suck to do it. After all, it’s not like she has a line of customers lining up outside her door.
Tracy then tried to inquire with a few cleaning services, but the quotes were just higher than she was willing to pay. At that time, she hadn’t yet reached a deal and her funds were dangerously low due to paying for marketing flyers for the past few months.
“I had no choice. All I had at that point was my time, and I really wanted to get my first contract under my belt,” she said.
She then spent a miserable five hours cleaning up the place, but was energized by the prospect of possibly closing the deal.
And so after she finished, she took pictures and sent them to him, along with a reminder to sign the exclusive.
“He responded by saying thank you and pointing out the location,” but he repeated that it was not his habit to sign an exclusive. To put it bluntly, he told her he wanted his agents to be “kept on their toes”.
Tracy then asked if he was working with any other agents, and he said no, so she felt she shouldn’t push her luck.
She posted it online, and with a marketing budget to spend on portals (the online world wasn’t as big back then) and newspapers, she managed to get a steady stream of potential buyers. to see the place in the following days.
To make a good impression, she took it upon herself to create a pleasant atmosphere for the shoppers, with lit candles to scent and hotel slippers that she collected while traveling so as not to dirty the floor.
She remembered that there was a particular long weekend (with a holiday on Monday) where she was there from 8 am to 11 pm on Saturday, as well as Sunday, and all Monday as well. “Between viewings I had to text back and I wanted to be as quick as possible. So it was very hectic.”
His efforts paid off, however, and a few interested parties returned for a second viewing.
One couple in particular was very interested and asked to meet him suddenly on a Sunday morning. Tracy canceled breakfast with her family to do so, sensing an offer was about to come.
After the viewing, they confirmed their interest and wanted to make an offer. Tracy was excited, was she about to close her first contract?
But as they say, life is never that easy. Still, she was discouraged that their starting offer was 30% less than the owner had requested. She told them it probably wouldn’t be accepted, but she would try to ask anyway.
“I was quite nervous about talking to him about the offer, because I’ve heard some landlords get a little insulted when they get low offers,” she explained.
And it’s true, he got a little heated about it. “He told me not to accept such ridiculous offers and to screen my buyers more.”
The next thing he said though, was really unexpected for Tracy. “He then said that he would be present at weekend visits, as he wanted to monitor how I was showing buyers around.
“Honestly, I was too shocked to even respond appropriately,” Tracy shared. “I didn’t know what to do and I just said okay!”
Looking back, she knows she should have asked the other agents on her team for help, but she felt so ashamed at the time. “I just couldn’t bear to ask for help because everyone had already done their first contracts and I was still struggling.”
So this weekend she had to face the owner who watched over her like a hawk over every word she said. “After each visit, he would point out mistakes and berate me for how I was showing buyers. It was humiliating.”
She really wanted to throw in the towel at this point, but the idea of throwing away all the work she had already done seemed like a huge waste. This was the risk of real estate transactions for agents – you don’t get paid until the deal is done.
As it is, life has a funny way of going (even if it didn’t seem like it at the time).
The last straw was when this same buyer came by for the third time and asked her if she knew if there would be any future obstructions to the view.
“I was about to tell them yes, but before I could say anything, the owner quickly interrupted me to say no, there wouldn’t be,” Tracy recalled.
For her, it never even crossed her mind not to tell the truth. This was a number of years ago when the internet was still considered a new technology (much like the metaverse today). Online shopping was still in its infancy and buyers were much less knowledgeable about real estate matters than they are today.
She was very uncomfortable in this situation, but felt she couldn’t say anything for fear of stepping on his toes.
In the end, however, Tracy made the difficult decision to end this toxic relationship on her terms.
“He was just a shark. And he knew he was taking advantage of my newness as an agent,” she said. “I just couldn’t bear lying to a buyer like that when I knew the truth. I’d rather have the peace of mind of sleeping well at night knowing I did the right thing.”
As they say, honesty is the best policy, and the story ended on a high note for Tracy.
All’s well That ends well
“After telling the owner that I wouldn’t lie to customers like that, he just hung up, yelled some rude words that I won’t say, and hung up. I called this particular buyer to tell him the truth, and they were super grateful that I was honest because maybe they just made a better offer,” Tracy shared.
The best part? They didn’t have an agent and asked Tracy if she could help them find their perfect home.
“I ended up showing them a few more places after that, and they became my first client and my first business!”
Despite everything that happened, Tracy was happy with how it ended. It’s been many years since, and it’s all under the bridge for her now.
“I learned a lot from that experience. I had to learn to value my time and my work, and at the same time, it really helped me appreciate the other clients that came afterward,” Tracy replied. .
This article first appeared in Stackedhomes.