This email message came to me today from a client we closed escrow with in June 2010.  It is from a client that I've written about in the past that continues to send me unsavory reminders of a transaction, however successful, that they feel was ....... Well, you read it for yourself and decide.  I would like to have some feedback on whether my response was appropriate and justified.  I realize that I can be a bit wordy in my writing but please take the time to read it and give me your thoughts.  Happy Holidays!

Dear Diane, We are very easy going people and would've never said anything bad about our process because we just wanted to get our house, and honestly didn't know all the details like you guys did, etc.  But enough time has passed and honestly, we were upset at how things went.  We felt at times we were being taken advantage of, because we are so "green", etc.

We were signing away our life with no one to ask questions to (and were pushed quickly so the lender could make his money and more money for doing it faster).  We felt and know we were lied to and honestly, that hurts us the most.  We were lead to believe that we would receive a gift card after the closing and it never came.

I tell you this, because your company made a lot of money off of us.  They made money on the sale of the house and the loan since we went through them (and they pushed for us to use their loan company).  The lender even said that the realtor of the house we bought from will use him and his loan services since WE did such a good job.  So now we gave them more business and not even a thanks. 

My dad was here when the realtor came over to congratulate us on our closing.  I asked my dad why she wanted to know where we shop for improvements to our house.  He told me (my parents have bought many houses) that realtors do that to THANK YOU for the sale and because they make a lot of money at one time off of you.  So, the just of this is are you guys unthankful of the money and now potential business we brought to your company?

Mr. and Mrs. First Time Home Buyers

(this letter is copied and pasted exactly how I received it today with the exception of their names)

My answer:

Dear Mr. and Mrs. First Time Home Buyers

I have read your email message to me this afternoon and would like to take this time to respond.  As far as the service and support that you received throughout your home buying experience, I regret that you did not feel comfortable with certain aspects of the transaction.  I understand how overwhelming the process can be and your unfamiliarity with all of the terms, contracts, timeframes and such can leave you feeling vulnerable at times. 

You have a very strong opinion regarding whether or not a Realtor's commission is warranted or not.  At least that is what I gather from the tone of your email.  That is a common misunderstanding among home buyers and sellers in the real estate market.  I believe that comes from the fact that we are paid on a commission only basis.  Our earnings come in the form of a lump sum check paid ONLY at the close of escrow and ONLY if escrow closes successfully.  Many people do not realize all of the time, travel, gas, research, negotiations, inspections, appraisals, contracts, etc. that we provide to our clients on a 100% contingency basis or for free with the hopes that escrow does indeed close. 

There are many times that we work through all of the obstacles and perform our due diligence as a fiduciary to our clients only to have an element of the transaction fall apart just when we thought we could count on making our own personal rent or mortgage payment.  The only certainty in this business is the certainty that a transaction is never over until it is over and that you cannot ever count on it until it is closed.  This business is not for the conservative, cautious or the weak at heart. 

We do what we do because we enjoy the looks on the client's faces when you hand them the keys to their new home.  The warm feeling we have in our hearts that we are responsible for making home ownership a reality for our clients.  We have provided the means to create houses into homes for families, couples, individuals for years to come.  And we do that by taking on all of the tedious and stressful tasks that must be performed within the strictest of timeframes per the terms of the purchase contract.  I have always considered Realtors like "stress sponges".  We are the buffer between the principles so that the client does not feel uncomfortable negotiating directly with the other party and we absorb a majority of the stress, deal with the demands and as calmly as reasonably possible put our clients at ease in order to facilitate a successful transaction.  Walking a tightrope is not an easy task but it can be rewarding when you make it to the other side.

So what I can suggest to you at this point is to sit back and look at the big picture.  Instead of analyzing all the events that occurred in the past, focus on what you have today.  Ask yourself "am I satisfied with the home that I chose?", "can I afford my monthly mortgage payment?", "do I enjoy the location that my home is in, neighbors, schools, parks, shopping, commuting to work?" 

I reviewed all the documents and personally know that the lender provided the financing you needed, in the timeframe that you needed it and I believe at the interest rate that you found acceptable.  You may have felt a bit of that stress I was referring to as it could not be contained in the sponge as well as we would like because certain aspects of the transaction needed to be performed when you were scheduled to be out of town.  You may have felt "pushed" but in reality the agents needed to perform critical aspects of the agreement or potentially lose an important interest rate lock or prevent your closing costs from increasing substantially if it were to close escrow into the following month.  I will attest that any urgency you may have felt was not due to the agent's attempting to gain additional compensation at the closing, it was strictly due to their fiduciary obligation with you.

The lender you used is not owned or managed by our real estate company in any regard nor do we profit from any transactions performed through them.  They are a completely separate entity.  I encourage their services strictly because I know that they can perform as promised and to date, have provided the best costs and rates to my clients.  However, you were told that you could use any lender you felt would provide you with the best overall performance.

Finally and most importantly, our company does not earn anywhere near the amount of commission they are entitled to when they work with a client that comes from an outside referral service.  Regardless, we maintain the same level of service and dedication that any other agent would provide in exchange for almost half of the commission other real estate agencies would receive.

 I've never had a client expect a gift at closing.  If they did it would not be a gift.  It would be a closing cost.  I'm sorry that you were so dead set on one.  The funds just are not available and that's a fact.

I know you don't agree but I don't believe that we will receive any referral business from your representation of our services.  And no, we are not grateful for that.  Do not worry yourselves about our unthankful behavior over new potential business you have referred our way.  We will continue to focus on productive, professional relationships that will lead us toward thankful, appreciative clients that have earned our representation and commitment.  Happy Holidays to you and to a prosperous New Year. 

Diane Wheatley, Broker

Move Up Properties Real Estate

Diane Wheatley, Broker

Real Estate Brokerage, Upland CA


(909) 815-4499 Direct Cell

CA DRE Broker Lic #01193694



Comment balloon 9 commentsDiane Wheatley • December 23 2010 03:33AM


Good Morning Diane, thank you for sharing your excellent response to the email.

Posted by Dan Edward Phillips, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, CA (Dan Edward Phillips, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, CA) over 9 years ago

It's painful to work so hard for someone and have them turn on you. It happens to everyone if they are in the business long enough.  Obviously they had some misunderstandings about who the loan officer works for and tht deadlines are deadlines regardless of travel plans.  Your response was excellent.  Don't lose any sleep over it.

Posted by Maureen Fukumoto, Maureen (Help-U-Sell Realty Pro) over 9 years ago

Hi Diane,

I only read part of your response.

It felt defensive to me.

I think what you do with an email like that is let it rest for a while.

Write a response or two. Run it by someone before you send it.

By the time you send it, it is shorter and less defensive.

You asked!


Posted by Phil Leng, Phil Leng - Retired (Retired) over 9 years ago

Too wordy. 

"Hi folks.  My good wishes for many happy years in the home you selected.  Very truly yours, Diane"

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Seems a little long to me Diane. It is upsetting when you work so hard for people and they always want more for less. Keep up the good work and focus on those who appreciate your efforts. Happy Holidays.

Posted by Randy Ostrander, Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI (Lake and Lodge Realty LLC ) over 9 years ago

I asked my dad why she wanted to know where we shop for improvements to our house.  He told me (my parents have bought many houses) that realtors do that to THANK YOU for the sale and because they make a lot of money at one time off of you.  So, the just of this is are you guys unthankful of the money and now potential business we brought to your company?

I'm not sure who the "Realtor/she" is; however, I suspect the question about where they would shop for home improvements was to sign the home-buyers up for a reward program through Lowe's (#48) or Home Depot (#20) or possibly Manards (not sure of Paul's NASCAR car # for 2011).

I read the entire blog and I "get" that the buyers were getting BAD information from their parents and incorrect information that they feel applied to them and it did not!

It is HARD to market or counter against UNEXPRESSED mis-conceptions


Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) over 9 years ago

woooweeeee, now that's a letter!


Posted by TODD PICCONI 909.908.7376 PASSIONATE ABOUT YOURMOVE, Patient, Persistent and Positive About Your Move! (TODD PICCONI REAL ESTATE) almost 9 years ago


I don't know what you did to tick these buyers off, but to get this letter 'many months later', they were clearly NOT happy with your service.  Usually we have to defend our commissions but not long after we have had the opportunity to earn it.  These buyers did not see what you did for them.  Something was definately missed.

And I agree, why didn't you get them a closing gift of some kind?  It is not only customary but polite.  At least a thank-you note would have gone a long way, I think.

I think your response was offensive also, I agree with Phil.  A bad referral is far more contagious than a good one.  Sorry!

Posted by Amy Sharrow (Mountain Top Producers) almost 9 years ago

Thank you all for your responses.  I agree that my response was rather "wordy".  I tend to be that way in my writings so that I can best relay the spirit and intent that my message is structured for. 

Many of you may not have read my post titled as "HALT! DID MY CLIENTS REALLY SAY THAT?" regarding the client that requested a closing gift two months after close.  This email was written in response to those clients. 

After I received such an overwhelming response from my Active Rain colleagues I felt that I needed to be direct, but not offensive.  That was never my intent.  If you read that blog you'll see that many A.R. supporters thought I should send them a link to the blog or tell them that my closing gift to them was a donation on their behalf at a favorite charity. 

I did not do any of those things.  But I did write my email as shown above.  I did forget to mention that I did send them an immediate thank you card when we closed their deal stating my excitement for them and my thanks - but no material gift.  I do typically provide some sort of thank you gift to my clients upon closing.  I honestly felt differently about this client and chose not to. 

Thank you again for your words of wisdom and I'll use your advice on any future abnormalities that should arise.  I appreciate it.

Diane Wheatley


Posted by Diane Wheatley, Broker, SoCal Real Estate Expert (909) 815-4499 (Move Up Properties) almost 9 years ago