Many a real estate agent has been there. A buyer who seemed happy throughout the process of purchasing a new home has subsequently turned up with a litany of complaints about the process, the property, or both. And as the buyer's former agent, you are the sounding board (and perhaps the expected mender) for these grievances.
Maybe it's an email, maybe it's a phone call (perhaps direct to your personal cell phone number), or maybe it's even a formal letter. Whatever the delivery, your predicament remains the same: your former client expects you to remediate something for which you are not responsible.
And that last part is your key takeaway. Once the real estate transaction has closed, you are no longer responsible for the client (however likeable), the property (no matter the condition), or any follow-up (no matter how desperate the situation seems).
It's possible that your office already has a protocol in place for managing these types of tricky situations. You might already have a "best practice" policy in place. But some offices have no such procedures in place … and if you work independently, you may not have developed your own policy with regard to follow-up complaints.
There are a few key points to remember if you find yourself in a situation with a difficult client after the conclusion of a sale:
• Although you might be inclined to help a former client in need, you are no longer obligated to do so. Your job ended with the close of sale. So it's your call as to whether you want to field any more concerns from a former client.
• A major dispute or confrontation is not going to help either party. Be clear about your stance, and stick with it. A lot of back-and-forth will only lead to frustration on everyone's part.
• Under no circumstances should you pledge responsibility or promise to take care of the issue – at least until you fully understand what you are getting into. Doing so could be costly and contentious, so try to remain on careful footing.
• Don't allow yourself to be intimidated or threatened. If you are threatened with legal action, do a bit of research with your own legal advisor rather than kowtowing to a bullying client. Many times, talk is just talk and threats are idle.
Although lines of effective communication throughout the home buying process can eliminate the likelihood of unexpected unpleasantness once the sale is final, nothing in life is certain, and problems can arise from even the most agreeable of clients. You will likely form a bond with clients as you help them navigate the home buying process. But even if you don't become fast friends, you can be assured that you have a professional relationship with your home buyers. You are the professional in the relationship, and you must remember your role if a post-sale situation becomes difficult. That said, the majority of your client partnerships will result in happy home owners finding the homes of their dreams.