How To Deliver Bad News To Your Clients

April 30, 2018
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*Updated 10 February 2023

Delivering bad news to your clients is never easy as an agent or property manager. But unfortunately, it’s something you may need to do from time to time.

For example, this could be if:

  • You’re an agent and you’re not getting offers for your client’s property, or the offers are too low
  • You’re a property manager, market conditions are tough and you’re struggling to find good quality tenants for your property investor.

How you deliver any bad news to your clients often affects the reaction you get from them.

Property is a significant investment for anyone. As such, people can tend to let their emotions take over when talking about their property-related issues.

But there are some tips you should follow to help take the emotion out of any difficult property conversations with clients.

Tip 1: Build trust with your clients from day one

Trust is something that’s earned over time. The best way to earn your client’s trust is to treat them well from the day they first become your client. That means:

  • Asking questions and listening to them to make sure you understand their needs and goals
  • Communicating regularly with them
  • Always being upfront and honest. It’s important that you proactively manage your client’s expectations about key issues like selling price, rent, market conditions or property maintenance needs.

When you develop trust and rapport with your clients, you’ll develop a good rapport with them.

They’ll be more receptive to both good and bad news that you may need to deliver.

Tip 2: Put yourself in your client’s shoes

There’s a word for this, it’s called ‘empathy’. It means being able to understand another person’s point of view and feelings.

Think about how you’d feel if you received the bad news that you need to deliver to your client.

Then think about how you can deliver the news in a more sensitive way. For example, rehearse what you need to tell them and consider how you could best deal with their potential responses. 

Tip 3: Think carefully about the communication method you use to deliver the bad news

These days, there are many communication methods you can use. While it’s not always possible, it’s best to deliver bad news face-to-face rather than using phone, text or email communication.

Delivering bad news in person allows you to gauge your client’s immediate reaction and to potentially manage it as best you can. It also shows that you’re prepared to face and personally deal with any issues.

Tip 4: Focus on your process, not an outcome you haven’t achieved

In other words, make sure you talk about what you’re doing (and all the things you have done for your client). Don’t just focus on the bad news of what you haven’t been able to achieve for them.

At the end of the day, the market dictates what happens with the sale or rent of properties, even though agents and property managers have a strong influence.

If you’ve worked hard and professionally for your client but haven’t yet achieved the outcome they want, it’s even more important to remind them why they should continue to be your client.

Tip 5: Work with your client to find a solution

Delivering bad news should be the first step toward resolving an issue. It’s always best to take a problem-solution approach when delivering bad news.

Make sure you have plans or strategies that you can suggest to your client to overcome the bad news issue.

Together, you and your client will hopefully be able to make decisions to help you overcome any issues. For example:

  • You may need to adjust your marketing campaign to sell or rent the property
  • Your client may need to be prepared to drop their rent to meet the market if they’re a property investor. Lower rent is better than prolonged periods of no rent.

Tip 6: Document the outcomes of the client meeting

It’s sensible practice to document whatever is discussed during a sensitive face-to-face meeting with a client, including an agreed action plan to resolve any issues.

Ideally, send the client written follow-up communication that confirms the next steps you’ve mutually agreed to take.

That helps to avoid any potential confusion or misunderstanding of what will happen next.

Soho is your expert team in Australian real estate, offering an innovative platform for effortless property searches. With deep insights into buying, renting, and market trends, we guide you to make informed decisions, whether it's your first home or exploring new suburbs.
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