From Listed to SOLD - How to Sell Those Listings You Work So Hard to Get!


Declining the Monkey without Being Snotty about it - Part II


Pre-vacation, I wrote a "to be continued" blog about avoiding burnout by refusing to accept responsibility for stuff that isn't your responsibility, specifically in a real estate transaction. I promised to share some ideas for putting this philosophy into place that don't alienate the other party, who in all likelihood isn't trying to be difficult. And could end up being a fantastic client with a workable deal.

The first trick to respectfully declining your clients' monkeys is to know which monkeys are appropriate to decline. And which are rightfully yours to carry.  Yes, when our clients hire us, they have a right to expect us to take on some of the burden of their real estate transaction. Entering into a real estate agent/client relationship creates responsibilities on each side. The clearer you are on whose responsibilities are whose, the easier it will be to assign them to the appropriate party.

Put another way, what factors of the transaction are within your control, which are within your client's control and which are out of either of your control?

You control:

•         the services you are willing to provide

•         the marketing you are willing and able to do

•         the price at which you are willing to take a listing

•         whether or not you will take a short-sale listing

•         the times you are available to your buyer

•         the expertise you have in advising a seller how to prepare for market

•         the resources you have in place to help a seller prepare for market

•         your willingness to show short sales, foreclosures, FSBO's or new construction

•         how often you will communicate with your client

•         how much you charge for your services

Your client controls:

•         the price he is willing to list and sell for

•         how much he is willing to "come to the table with" if he's upside down in his mortgage

•         whether or not he's willing to short-sell

•         the amount of work he is willing to do and the funds he has available to prepare for market

•         the times he is available to look at houses

•         what marketing services he will require from his agent

•         how much he is willing to offer on a home

•         whether or not to allow unrestricted showings

•         whether or not he wants to pursue short sales, foreclosures, FSBOs or new construction

•         whether or not he is happy with the inventory in his price range

•         how much he is willing to pay for real estate services

Neither of you controls:

•         changing lending requirements

•         overall market activity

•         the cost of home maintenance and repair

•         interest rates

•         closing costs

•         the underwriter

•         the agent on the other side of the deal

•         the buyer or seller on the other side of the deal

So, how are these "control" issues relevant to getting the various monkeys assigned properly? Any thoughts?

I'll share mine next time...


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Comment balloon 42 commentsJennifer Allan-Hagedorn • September 21 2009 07:14AM


JA - Great post !  Too often agents (including myself and Stephanie) worry about things that are not in our control.  And if something does not go well, we can be too hard on ourselves which does not make any sense.  In the last year or so, my attitude has shifted to feeling good about everything knowing that we excelled in the things within our control.  After that, "if it is meant to be, it is meant to be" : ).  Hope all is well !!  ~ Chris


Posted by The Somers Team, Delivering Real Estate Happiness (The Somers Team at KW Philadelphia) almost 11 years ago

Hey Jennifer,

I feel that most agents try to be everything to everyone.....of course this never works.....your post explains what we can and should do......we must let go of the rest....

Posted by Dennis Duvernay Broker/Owner (Hillview Realty) almost 11 years ago


The great unknown...  Who will drop their ball, and can I pick it up and run with it to get to closing?

I had an excellent instructor who said, "When you are in a transaction, never assume that everyone else will do their job."

Posted by Mike Jaquish, 919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate (Realty Arts) almost 11 years ago

Knowing these facts will keep our sanity in tact. It's so important to learn to let go about the things we have no control of.

Posted by Loreena and Michael Yeo, Real Estate Agents (3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co.) almost 11 years ago

Good words.  Really it's great to see each on from THE OTHER'S perspective.  Huge....and great advice!

Posted by Larry Bettag, Vice-President of National Production (Cherry Creek Mortgage Illinois Residential Mortgage License LMB #0005759 Cherry Creek Mortgage NMLS #: 3001) almost 11 years ago

This is a great post. 

In my market, the buyers and sellers hire attorneys, so the behavior of the attorneys is out of my control.  I explain to my clients  the importance of working with an experienced attorney who wants to help them close their transaction.  Good attorneys must be part of the buyer/seller's team and willing to work with the real estate agents who negotiated the deal.  Many of the attorneys charge an upfront fee and they don't care if the deal falls apart.

Fortunately, I work with some wonderful attorneys who represent the interests of the buyers and seller without playing games.  When the other side hires an unprofessional attorney, the deal becomes much more complicated than necessary.

Posted by Laurie Hellmer, Dowtown Chicago Lofts and Chicago Neighborhood Realty (Real People Realty) almost 11 years ago

Laurie - Oooooh, I've never worked with attorneys before - that must be fun!

Larry - Stay tuned for more ...

Loreena - Just knowing what isn't within your control helps you to avoid trying to control it...

Mike - Oh, heavens, YES! But, in dealing with our clients, we really need to respect that they are capable of taking care of their responsibilities --- check back tomorrow!

Chris - Stay tuned!

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 11 years ago

Good Morning Jennifer! 

The last group of Monkeys: You cant control them, but you can be aware off them and avoid problems before they pop up. it is all about knowing your market and your business and being the professional "go-to" guy/gal!

Posted by Robert Rauf (HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ)) almost 11 years ago

Great information Jennifer.  It got me thinking right away about a listing in which they had to hook up to city water and septic.  Not a monkey I will accept but I will help them work through it!

Posted by Tami Vroma, Realtor, Grand Rapids MI Real Estate (West Michigan Real Estate Specialist-Five Star Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

Neither buyer nor seller has the right to tell us how to run our business. 

We also have the right to turn down business. 

Great post Jennifer.  Good guide for new agents.


Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

Very well stated Jennifer. Another Monkey to gid rid of quickly is when the deal fall apart. Call the seller or buyer immediately and get it off your back. It's their issue more than it is ours. No need to stress over it.

Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) almost 11 years ago

What a great lead-in. Now I'm just sitting here waiting for the other shoe to drop. The agony! :-)

Posted by Christianne O'Malley, Exceptional Service - Delivering Results in Reno! (RE/MAX Realty Affiliates) almost 11 years ago

I have a transaction right now-I have the listing, and I have had to take up the slack for the other agent.  He is clueless on residential contracts.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that we will close tomorrow.

Posted by Angelia Garcia (Pure Realtors) almost 11 years ago

Sweet!!! This is really great. It summarizes it all for us and clearly identifies who controls what. Thank you!

Posted by Jean Richer, No Gimmicks, No Nonsense, only Straight Talk (Keller Williams Realty Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Very nicely stated.  Of course, there's exceptions -- the agent on the other side can be "managed" if they are actly strangely . . . and for some reason, I'm getting some really weird ones of late.

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) almost 11 years ago

This is great advise to live by

Posted by Jason Simonson, Realty Executives - Menomonie WI almost 11 years ago


I like how you've stated the controls.  It is important for agents to realize what we can control and to try and keep up-to-date on those we can't control.  It helps to stay in constant communication with all parties in a transaction, including lender, title companies, other agent etc.  If you don't know whats going on it is easier to drop the ball.


Posted by Laurie Meacham (Parker Real Estate Services P.C. (Logan Utah Real Estate)) almost 11 years ago

This is a good post about setting realistic boundaries AND expectations! Nice job.

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

Working with people with tried and true reputations help spread the risks associated to every transactions.  My partners and I agree if we all do a little no one does alott.  We communicate through every step, whether it is the pest inspection on their part or Flood cert on mine, we are all updated.

Posted by Ricky Khamis, NMLS 173141 | CADOC 173141 - 480-339-1565 (Amerifirst Financial, Inc. (NMLS #145368)) almost 11 years ago

Jennifer, it is give and take with what we control but NO is a very powerful word on our side...

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) almost 11 years ago

Great post Jennifer!  So many things are out of the control of us as realtors, yet so many clients are quick to blame us!  You spell it all out very clearly here.

Posted by Emily Lowe, Nashville TN Realtor (The Lipman Group | Sotheby's International Realty) almost 11 years ago

Great advice - as a lender we also have to realize we have no control overcertain aspects of the transaction.  We can set the expectation with everyone involved in the transaction but we have to realize that if a loan is going south the easiest thing to do is tell evereyone invovled as quickly as possible..the quickest way to get a monkey on your back is to avoid telling bad news.  We, as lenders, need to realize that we can not fullfill the dream of homeownership for everyone.  In today's world the rules are getting tighter and as long as everyone invloved in the process talks to everyone and keeps communication open we can all survive.  I have some co workers that feel it is their fault when a loan does not work and take it personally - it's not personal, it's business.  If the buyer doesn't have the income or the funds or we can not document to the new standards that is not our fault.  Just tell everyone as quickly as possible so we can all move on

Posted by christine foreman almost 11 years ago

Excellent post Jennifer...and I LOVE this analogy! Use it all the time! NOT MY MONKEY!

Posted by SarahGray Lamm, Realtor - 100K Hours of NC Real Estate Experience (Allen Tate Realtors Chapel Hill, NC 919-819-8199 ) almost 11 years ago

I'm imagining the weird looks I'll get when I tell a client that that is indeed "Their monkey."  LOL. Great list and great things to remember.  They have things to do too!

Posted by Joel Weihe, Helping you to use your VA home loan benefits (Realty World Alliance) almost 11 years ago

Sheree - Ahhh, no need to explain the Monkey to a client - tomorrow's blog will share a few tips for shrugging off the Monkey without alienating the other guy!

Sarah - It really is eye-opening to realize that not everything is your problem to solve, isn't it?

Christine - I do believe that when we're hired to manage a process, it's reasonable for our client to expect us to oversee that process... but we need to be clear in the beginning what sorts of things we can control and where we need others' participation..

Emily - As above, I don't really mind taking the blame when a deal goes sour - it IS my job to keep things running smoothly. But it's no one else's fault but mine if I agree to accept responsibility for things utterly beyond my control when I could have enlisted the support of my client upfront!

Gary - a builder client once told me "Jennifer, you CAN say no." Wow - what a concept.

Ricky - sounds as if you have a great system!

Russell - Funny, that really wasn't where I was trying to go with this blog, but it ended up there. Glad you enjoyed it!

Laurie - I do believe it's our job to monitor everyone else's monkeys! But that doesn't mean they're all our responsibility to put on our backs...

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 11 years ago

I just noticed that there's a gold star on this post - thanks! As I commented above, my goal in writing this post wasn't to assign responsibility to various parties - therefore giving us permission to scream "It's NOT MY MONKEY!" which seems to me would be an effective rapport-killer. My point was to help us identify for ourselves which factors we can control, but more importantly, which ones our CLIENTS control, and are, therefore, our clients' monkeys.

More tomorrow!

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 11 years ago


This is a great post for me as I am somewhat of a "control freak". It is good to take a step back sometimes.

Posted by Kristi DeFazio, Colorado Springs Rea lEstate 719-459-5468 (RE/MAX Advantage) almost 11 years ago

Excellent post and comments, too! Yes, I sometimes beat myself up over things that are beyond my control.  I need to "let it go" and realize that it is ok. Not every transaction is going to be "smooth sailing".

Posted by Sonja Patterson, Texas Monthly 5-Star Realtor Recipient for the Hou (Keller Williams - BV) almost 11 years ago

Hi Jennifer -- Very good advice.  It helps to communicate all this in writing to clients so they know what to expect and not to.  I put everything in writing -- my service commitment, marketing plan, communication, etc., so nothing (well...almost :-)) is left to chance.  Expectation setting is key.

Posted by Chris Olsen, Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate (Olsen Ziegler Realty) almost 11 years ago

Doing what we can do is the way to act in a professional manner. I've often done more than that, when I can. Having said that sometimes I have no control over things even tho i might try to.


Posted by Patricia Aulson, Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes (BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOME SERVICES Verani Realty NH Real Estate ) almost 11 years ago

Great advice Jennifer. There are things I tend to take too personally and I have no control over. Reality check.

Posted by Lee & Carol Barbour, REALTORS, Mountain Living Team in Murphy NC and North GA (Murphy and Hayesville, NC; Hiawassee, Blairsville, Blue Ridge GA) almost 11 years ago

This was reaaaaaly good.

Now waiting for the next part.

Posted by Rajeev Narula, My Services Are All About You! (iPRO REALTY LTD.,Brokerage) almost 11 years ago

The most important bit of advice my broker gave me in the past year is, "Once you've created the 'meeting of the minds' between the two parties, your job is over."  Everything you do from that point on is extra.  Just like your commission is earned when the-meeting-of-the-minds takes place, so is the bulk of your work finished.

Posted by Scott Miller, (Best Connections Realty) almost 11 years ago


Thanks for summarizing these control factors. I have gotten much better about who controls what but there are times I find need a reality check! I always say "it is what it is!"

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899) almost 11 years ago

Here's today's blog on the matter:

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 11 years ago

Thank for your great insights. Not taking responsibility for market conditions is a consstant challange. Everybody plays on that

Posted by Tom Larkin ( almost 11 years ago

I love it!!!  I heard a speaker a couple of months ago who kept saying don't take on other people's monkeys!!!  He said "Just say, that's NOT my monkey!!!"  This is so true, why waste precious time freaking out over things we cannot control???  Great advice.

Posted by Jeani Codrey, If you're not learning, you're not living! (The Learning Jeani) almost 11 years ago

great list of areas of responsibility/control.

Posted by Dora & Vincent Kwok, CNE - Chandler, Arizona Real Estate (HomeSmart Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

I was taught early in life not to worry about things I cannot control, still is relevant today. Great post.

Posted by Chad McBain (RE/MAX R.E. CENTRE) almost 11 years ago

Yes, I want to print this list out and give it to my sellers.  Would that be appropriate ;)

Posted by Blake Farley (Real Living Hacienda Realty) almost 10 years ago

Blake - I think you can use the list (you have my permission!), but don't just print it out - some people may not appreciate the whole "Monkey" reference. But I think it's a great idea to create your own list from this list - a "Here's what I Control" "Here's what You Control" "And here's what neither of us controls!"

If you put something like this together, please share!

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 10 years ago
Unbelievable how well-written and ifnortmaive this was.
Posted by Lorrie over 8 years ago

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