Do’s And Don’ts: Telling A Client Bad News!

By | April 27, 2015

While there’s nothing better than telling a client great news, conversely, the bad news contact can be one that’s extremely difficult to initiate!

As a result, sometimes we are tempted to take the easy way out!

In residential real estate, some examples of the disappointing news that may have to be conveyed includes…

  • The sellers rejected the offer for your dream home,
  • The buyer is refusing to sign the contract and it looks like the deal is dead,
  • You don’t qualify for the mortgage because your credit score is too low,

You get the general idea and, while these three examples relate specifically to residential real estate, the truth of the matter is that negative communication with clients will unfortunately be necessary for all of us at one time or another regardless of industry.

So what are some of ways that you should and should not share news and when you do, what is the best methodology for presenting it?

Note: It is understood that in the internet age where clients can sometimes be located far away that some methods of communication may not be viable!

From The Commission Pipeline

A) Bad News Don’ts!

Social Media

Do not share bad news with a client via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or any other form of social media you use to keep in contact with them. An agent should only use social media to post new listings, share insightful information about real estate, network with possible clients, or give their current clients good news about their home-buying process.

Text Messaging

This may be even worse than using social media to give bad news. Never give bad news over a text message! Even if you think it’s minuscule, your client may think you’re unprofessional and just rude for not wanting to talk them through the situation.

B) Acceptable Bad News Delivery Vehicles!


This may be acceptable for sharing certain news with a client. However, do not make it a habit to always share bad news with a client via email. If there is some information about something that has come up in the home-buying process that your client needs to know about, then you should send them an email informing them of such news. Whether it is good or bad, your client needs to know the news if the deal is going through or there is a snag in the process. So email is always a viable option for you to utilize when sharing news with clients.

Over the Phone

Over the phone is an acceptable way for you to share bad news with a client. However, you may get an ear full that you’ll be tempted to click the mute button on once your client hears the bad news. Talking over the phone is more personal and faster than a emailing. When actually talking to the client, you are able to hear their response to all of the news without having to wait for them to read your email and then respond later. By sharing bad news with a client over the phone, you are able to show them that you have courage and are responsible enough to relay the news back to them as soon as you hear it. This way, everyone stays in the loop of the home-buying process. 

C) The Best Way To Share Bad News And How To Set It Up!

Share Bad News With Your Client in Person

Telling your client in person is not always easy, but it is the best way share bad news with a client in a professional standpoint. If your client sees you in person, and you sympathize with them, they are more likely going to respect you and understand the situation better than any other form of communication. Sometimes things get misconstrued over the phone or via internet, so telling them in person serves as a great way to share bad news with a client. However, if you know that your client has a temper, it may be best to tell them over the phone to avoid any altercations.

Structuring the Delivery Of Bad News

  • Find the appropriate time to tell them: Do not tell them the bad news in passing. Give a setup as to what the bad news is and how to go about the process.
  • Manage your expectations: If you expect the bad news to anger your client, be prepared to listen to them and assess the problem as you both discuss it.
  • Get to the point: Now don’t go about sharing the problem by masking it in clever stories or nonsense to dance around the real issue. Go out and tell them. You need to be as honest and straightforward with your client as possible when sharing bad news with them.
  • Be sympathetic: If you give your client bad news, you want to be sympathetic towards their feelings. It would be hard for anyone to hear bad news about their real estate plans, so please remember to be kind and understand where they’re coming from.
  • Separate yourself from the news: The bad news is not necessarily going to be your fault. It might not be anyone’s fault. Maybe the client could not get the loan they wanted. Maybe they could not purchase their dream home after all because someone put down an offer and it was immediately accepted. Whatever the bad news is, make sure to separate yourself from it even though you are the one relaying it back to your client.

Source: The Commission Pipeline


Michael Haltman, President of Hallmark Abstract Service, New York.

HAS is a provider of title insurance in New York State for residential and commercial real estate transactions.

And, for anyone either buying a property or refinancing, remember that although your attorney will likely recommend a title insurance provider you always have the right to choose your own (click here to learn more)!

If you have any questions you can reach Michael by email at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.