By Jeffrey Wagman

Are you expecting to have loyal clients in the real estate sales world? You will need to put in a lot of years to get a few.

It’s not a negative thing, but most people look after themselves first, not you. I have learned that for every 10 years you are working in this business, you would be doing well if you retained two to three loyal clients per each 10 years. That’s not a lot of loyalty, but that’s the cold hard truth.



I tell you this because in this business, you can’t rely on anyone. Nothing is for sure and nothing is a “given.” You may have sold multiple homes to a client over the years and suddenly on MLS you see the house you helped them get for sale with another agent.

First, you will take it personally and be hurt and dumbfounded. The steam inside your head burns with thoughts of, “How could they do that to me?” Once you have calmed down you will realize they didn’t do it to you. They did it for themselves, as they should.

It’s a business where thin skin can get burned badly. After it happens a few times, it still hurts, but you get past it faster and better equipped with a new energy. It’s like when I coached my kids’ hockey and the other team gave one of my players a cheap shot and received a penalty for it. My player initially got mad and wanted to retaliate. I suggested the best revenge is to put the puck in the net and a goal on the scoreboard.

It’s similar in that when your former client lists with someone else, you feel energized to get another listing or buyer and work with them.

It’s important to know that no one is immune from this. The best in the business deal with it too. Hopefully after reading this you will be better prepared for when it does happen.

  • Jeff Stern

    Excellent topic Jeffrey and one that I don’t ever recall being openly discussed anywhere before. Loyalty has waned over the past decade and a half or so as society has changed how it shops.

    The rise of homes on the web have provided more real-time access to real estate than the days of old when print ruled with its production deadlines resulting in “Old-News-Now” and the generational shift of consumers who were raised knowing nothing of life before the internet also plays a role as our once loyal clients of days gone by are being influenced by being able to immerse themselves in research before hiring an agent as well as their their children being involved in their life matters including downsizing.

    I’m not sure if the 2 to 3/10 ratio is an accurate one, as with my 25 years in I should have 5 to 7-1/2 loyal clients yet my referral and repeat rate is annually higher than that, however the point you make is the key here that we must be cognizant of the fact loyalty has for the most part gone the way of the DoDo Bird.

    I teach a Buyer Representation course on how to educate homebuyers on the benefits of signing an exclusive buyer representation agreement and in that class I say that “Real Estate is an opportunistic thing” . We speak with someone one day who is thinking of selling in the next” xx” period of time and then in short order their home is listed on the MLS and your name is not on the listing which infuriates you, when in real life after you met with them doing everything right (answered all their questions, asked all the right questions and was not pushy just consultation… displaying professionalism) one day unbeknownst to you one of the sellers has a health or life issue raising the need for immediate change and they hit open houses and Boom… they buy one, and that agent was in the right place at the right time and lists their home (with your annual calendar on their fridge and your notepad on their counter beside your branded fly swatter) and you have a What-Happened-Moment. We have been that agent in the right place and time as well!

    If we are honest with ourselves we too can see we have done things that were in this light, deemed disloyal as we were looking out for our best interests not intending to hurt whom we had a business relationship with. I think the take-away here for me at least is to not be hurt by a renegade past client but ensure as we gain tenure in our businesses to continue to “feed the trough” of NEW clients to offset the likelihood of those that naturally will go AWOL. Thank you for your thoughts and I look forward to following this story for other readers comments.