“Just stop talking,” he snapped. “I have two eyes. I can see things for myself.” I didn’t say another word during the rest of the showing
himon and Baila Kleinberg were married a few years and ready to buy their first home. Over the course of a few weeks, I showed them half a dozen houses, but they didn’t like any of them.
Baila had many specifications regarding what she wanted — the kitchen had to have an island, there had to be a spacious playroom, and she wanted a walk-in closet too. Then she heard about a house that was going to be put up for sale on one of the most happening streets in the area.
Baila did some googling and called the owner directly — which was out of bounds. The owner was irritated and told her to call his agent — also against protocol; if you’re working with an agent as a buyer you should have your agent call the seller’s agent. The agent was put off and told her she shouldn’t be contacting him directly — who’s her agent? She gave him my name, and he then called and yelled at me.
I tried to smooth the ruffled feathers, told him he was entirely right, and this wasn’t the way things should be done. But, I gently reminded him, I also can’t control my clients’ actions. Then I asked when we could come see the house.
The Kleinbergs saw the house and instantly loved it. Shimon asked if he could bring his parents the next time. The next day, I met the Kleinbergs at the house. An older couple got out of their car and didn’t even look in my direction, much less say hello.
I ushered the two couples through the home, pointing out various upgrades. After my third comment, the senior Mr. Kleinberg glared at me.
“Just stop talking,” he snapped. “I have two eyes. I can see things for myself.” I didn’t say another word during the rest of the showing.
An hour after we finished, Shimon called me. While he’d originally agreed to pay the full price, he now — at his father’s recommendation — wanted to pay a very different sum, far less than the market price.
“You’re just not going to get the house,” I told him bluntly.
“Well, this is the hottest neighborhood, and three people were waiting to go inside as we saw it.” I paused. “You know what, let me call your mortgage lender to see if there are any terms we can offer that might make this offer more enticing.” This is a standard step when trying to negotiate a deal.
“Um, our mortgage lender is a relative. I’m not sure I’m so comfortable with that.”
“Up to you — think about it.” And with that, I ended the conversation.
A short while later, he called back, and told me his father was also on the line. The senior Mr. Kleinberg started yelling. “Why on earth are you asking to speak to my son’s mortgage lender? I’m a real estate agent myself, and let me tell you, this a very strange request.”
It was 4:15 in the afternoon, and I was out outside with all my kids. A minute later he said, “This is an extremely rude conversation — I hear people in the background. Can you get rid of them so I can talk to you properly?” I should have put him in his place right then. But I was caught off guard, I asked my neighbor to watch my kids and ran into the house.
He continued his rant. “My children do not work for you, you work for them. Why are you making things so complicated? All you care about is making a sale. You’re dishonest and pushy.”
Finally, there was a break in the yelling. “Do you want me to explain myself?” I asked.
“No, I don’t.”
“Okay, well, thanks for calling.” And I hung up.
I called Shimon right away. “Nobody talks to me like that,” I told him. “If this is how your father is going to treat me, you can find someone else to work with. I am not willing to put up with abuse.”
“My father can get a little rough sometimes,” he said apologetically. “I was so impressed with how you handled him.”
“That call was completely inappropriate. And if your father is going to be involved in this deal, I can’t work with you anymore. Let me know. I wish you all the best either way.”
Two hours later I got a call from Baila. She was crying.
“I’m so embarrassed,” she said. “I walked in while my father-in-law was yelling at you. I’m really sorry. We like you and want to work with you. But he’s giving us a lot of money and he’s calling the shots.”
I told her I understood, but her father-in-law had been aggressive and called me names and I couldn’t work in such an environment. Mr. Kleinberg stood firm in the way he wanted to do things, and the Kleinbergs took their business elsewhere.
That wasn’t the first time I stood up to a bully in my business. But it was the first time I realized that no amount of money would be enough to justify working with someone abusive. When people accuse you of being dishonest when you’re just trying to help them, you shouldn’t continue working with them. Realizing that and standing up for myself was a great learning experience. I lost the sale, but I gained self-respect.
You need a thick skin in this business. You put your kishkes into it — and sometimes that investment is paid back with nastiness. But you can’t take it personally.
I’m on a chat for a bunch of frum Realtors, and one of the women on the chat often takes things personally and gets hurt and insulted. What I wish I could tell her is: This isn’t about you. Hurt people hurt people.
As in so many areas in life, we have to let go of the people who are nasty or mistreating us. Then, we’ll be left with those who appreciate the effort we’re putting in for them, and work will be energizing and enjoyable.
to be continued…
Nechama “Nicky” Norman is a licensed real estate agent servicing greater Lakewood, New Jersey. She focuses on residential property and loves to educate people about buying and selling by hosting seller events.
Don’t tell a professional how to do their job — and this applies in every field. If you hire someone, you want their expertise — let them be the expert. A professional knows their industry well and will do a fantastic job when they feel they’ve earned your trust; micromanaging shows a lack of trust and strains the relationship.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 814)
Oops! We could not locate your form.