Dear Zuess,

I am so frustrated that I could explode.  I’ve been speaking with this woman for over a year about selling her home in my area, and just today the listing came out with a broker I’ve never heard of.  I think it must be her son-in-law, as she had mentioned him back when we first met.  I can’t believe it!  I’ve given her so much of my time and expertise and now she has listed with someone who doesn’t know the market at all.  What could I have done differently?


Hi Tom,

I think every real estate agent who has been at this for any length of time has been in your situation.  It sucks!  I bet you feel used, manipulated or just plain ripped-off.  I feel your pain!

The great thing is that you are trying to learn from it, and that is what makes top Realtors awesome.  It’s difficult to know what may have worked better, but it is more important to see the opportunity that lies in front of you.  I call these the “No Sells” and often, they can be your best source of referral business.   No Sale

“No Sells” are folks that didn’t do business with us because they felt they couldn’t.  This often happens when they have a friend or family member in real estate, and the cost of not doing business with that friend or family member seems bigger to them than the cost of working with an agent who may not be the best.  It’s a matter of values, and while we may not agree with their choice, it’s not ours to make– it’s theirs.

It is valuable to take a look at the psychology behind the decision.  The prospect chose to do business with the friend or family member, even though they may not think that they will do the best job.  They might not be happy with this decision, but the alternative is worse.  They likely won’t recommend their friend or family member: they feel that this is their cross to bear and they will not impose it on others.  Also, since you have been professional in supplying them with information and expertise, they have this sense of guilt to you that they would like to relieve.  It’s this combination that can earn us some spectacular referral opportunities.

Put on your most curious mindset and call them up.  You are allowed to call them as long as you don’t ask for the listing.  Tell them you saw their listing come out and that while you are disappointed, you accept their decision and wanted to let them know that you will do what you can to bring them a buyer.  Once you have eliminated their defensiveness and rebuilt some rapport, you may ask why they chose the broker they did.  Don’t dwell on it, just learn enough to understand their situation.  Handled well, this call can result in a tsunami of referrals.