I ghosted a client. I know. Mature, right?

Like something teenagers do in high school.

Story continues below

All of a sudden, one day, I decided not to return a client’s email. A request for a showing. The umpteenth showing.

I know. I left a lot of money on the table. A possible purchase and a sale.

But my piece of mind has been worth it.

I am sure we have all had clients like these. Clients we have worked with for years, always in the hopes that one day it will result in a paycheque or two. After all, that’s why we are in this business. To pay our bills, to buy our gas, to put food on our tables.

This client and I met at an open house I was hosting several years ago. We kept in touch and I showed them numerous properties over the years. They were always almost ready to put their house on the market.

But there was always something that came up that was holding them back.

A job opportunity. Or, it just didn’t feel right. They weren’t sure that was the community they wanted to move to. The house just wasn’t up to snuff to warrant such a big change.

You know.

I am sure we have all had clients like that.

Well, when I started to feel myself cringing every time I received a new email from them wanting to see another property, I knew a change was needed.

Perhaps I could have referred them. Deferred them to some other unsuspecting soul to ferry around and be wasting their time. Because that’s how it feels. It feels like I have ultimately wasted my time.

All those hours spent researching properties, setting up showings, driving to those properties, finding out information about zoning and severancing and permitted uses.

Always with the carrot at the end of the stick that it may all indeed result in a purchase one day, and the sale of their home too.

Well, that carrot has turned rotten. My patience has been worn down to the last thread.

When leaving money on the table, a potential paycheque or two up in the air, feels more like the right choice, the freeing choice, than setting up another showing, I think I have made the right decision. When I would rather not work with somebody because I feel that my good nature has been taken advantage of, I know I have made the right decision.

There was no Buyer’s Agreement signed, thankfully.

And of course, it will be this house that is THE ONE. And another Realtor will reap the spoils of that purchase, possibly, and the sale of their home too, if it all comes together.

But I feel nothing but relief that I won’t have to listen to another excuse about why that property wasn’t perfect for them. And sure, I could have handled it perhaps in a more mature manner, offering a detailed explanation in a politely worded email.

But no.

That client has taken enough of my precious time already. And it is the disrespect for that time that has led me to make the choice that I did.

And I made off like Casper.


  1. It would’ve taken you less than five minutes to send a polite email saying that you can no longer work together. Put yourself in their shoes for a second. How would you have felt?

  2. I can completely identify with your article ! It’s not worth draining our energy which could be better spent on serious Buyer Clients who really do need our expertise.
    I did refer a similar client to a colleague who totally aware of my frustrations. It might be that a fresh start will be best for my former client and I might even get some compensation for my expertise !
    You did the right thing for both you and your client !

  3. You were looking at the situation all wrong…in my opinion, you saw them as a paycheque instead of clients. You could have explained things differently to them so they weren’t wasting your time…you could have enjoyed your time/showing experiences with them instead of thinking ‘they’re never gonna buy… they’re wasting my time’…you could have had a buyer agreement with them just in case they did like one property-you never know that could be the one…you could have treated them like friends instead of a disgusting chore. Some people take time to make decisions and just because they don’t move as quickly as others doesn’t make them any less valuable…as people or a paycheque. Of course though, you can always fire a client for any reason – might have been nice for them to know that’s what happened…heaven forbid they think more highly of you than you do of them and they get worried that something has happened to you when they don’t hear back from you. Close the door on them kindly.

    • I agree with you. I think the least that should have been done would have been an explanation why the agent chose not to continue working with these people. I don’t believe in burning my bridges – ever. Everybody deserves to be treated with respect.

  4. This is a great article to forward to Buyer Clients and everyone you know in Barrie. It is a great example of the professionalism that exists in the profession.

    • A wonderful career and certainly an interesting industry ours is…

      Does this not go back to the directly spoken words from on high: that it costs a buyer nothing (because the chosen seller of the particular end property purchased, if and when, pays all the commission? Alluding to buyers of any and all descriptions that we are there at beck and call as described in the pointed article? Setting ourselves up to be used and abused by announcing it in the Toronto Star?

      I can recount several instances right off the top of my head where I worked randomly with an eventual seller for about two years before he listed, and was considering eliminating him from my system when I got the peculiar email one morning that typically I wouldn’t even have opened, subject line: Ready when you are.

      Apparently Mr. Would-be Seller had attempted to connect twice previously in a few days time-slot, giving point to I likely hadn’t opened his prior couple of emails. Or they had just mysteriously vanished. We had been communicating on and off whenever he had a question or I reported nearby real estate goings on to him occasionally to keep him market conscious.

      He travelled often for business, and would often comment on a new article I had posted on my site.

      It was a very difficult sale due to “kitty litter syndrome.” Enough said. Eventually a sold sign went up. And there’s a complimentary post on my Carolyne’s Clients Speak page. Tough to sell, but nice people. Vacant house.

      Another wonderful professional medical working couple with several darling children involved in all sorts of extracurricular activities, decided they wanted me to help them find a new place. So I had them, as always, make a wish list.

      As often is the case, no such property existed in real life. And it took three years and installing a permanent weekly cleaning lady, to finally wrap things up, because their schedule was too full to clean bathrooms. They were terrific people with limited time to give me, but every now and then there would be a new listing that had to be seen right away. They did everything I required including getting written bank approval, subject to change because it was all taking so long.

      Several times I reorganized my schedule to accommodate theirs. Always wondering if the non-hardwood floors or that there was no inground pool would be the first give-up on their list. For three years they insisted they had to have both. In the end the hardwood won out, and they would build a pool right away.

      Location was very important tightening things up even further.

      And then there was the young couple who were wonderful but it was pretty much impossible to get them together at one time. I spent a full year telling them no, I would not book an appointment to see xyz house, repeatedly, because it didn’t match what they told me they wanted. And their work schedules overlapped. Not going to happen on my watch. Finally the right place became available in a suitable location, and the sold sign went up. They likely will live there forever, as was the case with so many of my buyers.

      I needed to be in control, due to how my system worked. It didn’t matter to me what anyone bought or where, so long as my job netted them what they wanted. Working for a buyer, I often only showed them three houses, any one of which they could have bought and did.

      Two more nice comments among others on my site. Only once in 39 years I had written a firing letter, about to be delivered, when an offer on the property came in and the seller insisted on watching the hockey game during the presentation.

      A dreadful scene where the co-op broker nearly left with no paperwork in hand. We had a dreadful time competing with the hockey game. But eventually once again, the sold sign went up and that sold sign brought in two more nearby for sale signs that sold with no issues.

      My sellers were relocating out of town, but a couple of live buyers who weren’t really interested in those properties did list with me and with a few wrinkles to iron out, I found them a just right move-up place and listed theirs. I always referred to the process as sold signs have babies; they reproduce in kind.

      So sometimes as difficult as it does seem, where there’s a will there’s a way, even so a boatload of patience is required as part of the plan.

      Early mornings, sometimes late nights and being organized and maintaining control is all part of the job description. For me I always wanted a buyer contract at hand. If necessary, “I” could cancel it.

      A few times came close, but never had to do it; but I did have, by some people’s definition, very strict (but malleable) rules in place that applied to everyone equally. It wasn’t just that I was well-paid, but I always saw the process as what I called: “building business for the future.”

      Carolyne L ?

  5. Well written Sharon, and absolutely something all of us has been through. Unfortunately we second guess ourselves at times with the guilt of leaving potential money on the table, but nothing is worth the misuse of our time. Our time on this earth is the most valuable possession in our life and we need to cherish it no matter what we do for income.
    Marco D’Antonio

    • Back in 1980 (that would be forty years ago) I met an older agent by the name of Giovanni. He had a delightful personality. He probably looked much older than he was in reality. Well worn, with a big heart. I won’t name his surname as undoubtedly there are some oldies still in the business who would recognize him. He enjoyed working with rural properties. He told this story:

      In those days, most specialist rural agents “walked the land.” The whole perimeter, as directed by the survey and according to the detailed written description.

      Wearing Wellies and in all kinds of weather, looking for the original land plugs, never to be moved rods that indicate plot plans. (Did you know that anyone who moved one of those rods and was found out, could be put in jail ?)

      So many yards (big 3′ spaced steps) to the west, turn left, go twenty more yards, there you will see a creek bed. Pass over it, and walk another 10 yards: there you will see an old red-painted post where the acres of land owner had put it as a marker where a moose had got stuck the year before.

      Each piece of land has a story. So this agent being one to do his job well, over time maybe walked hundreds of miles out in the country.

      He often insisted that a would-be buyer walk the lay of the land with him, because there was no way to know for sure without hiring a new surveyor who would confirm the lot lines. So, first, his plan was: let’s you and I walk the land ourselves. Buyers did it. They walked miles of unused farmland thinking maybe to develop it after buying it. Most such buyers at the time knew the routine.

      But one would-be buyer was wearing the agent out. He loved to go for a walk-about out in the field also. A nice way to spend a beautiful Fall or Spring Sunday, out in the country. complete with pick-up and delivery.

      After doing this a couple of times with what now appeared to the agent to be a rouse, a nice Sunday drive miles out in the country, he said he’d had enough. Agent would supply lunch along the way en route. Happy would-be buyer indeed.

      The agent walked a couple of miles into the property lot line and invited the would-be buyer, much younger, to continue on his own. The agent didn’t feel well. There was nothing around for miles in close proximity. He would wait in the car until the buyer finished the walk-about.

      But being worn out and abused once too often, the agent instead returned to home base, (it looked like it might rain) leaving the would-be buyer on his own to find his way back to the car, only to find no agent, no car.
      The end.

      His story seemed comical at the time. Might present a problem today.

      Though this Google link below is American, it presents the metes and bounds concept.


      And here again at Google, some interesting material.

      Such land descriptions are even noted in the Bible Old Testament:


      For those who have no knowledge of Urban Planning and Development or perhaps did not elect to take the rural OREA courses, it might be a heads up of interesting reading perhaps, or for newbies.

      Carolyne L ?


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