How to lead your clients through a fall-through

A funny thing about a turning market is that fall-throughs tend to go up too. 

When anyone gets a sniff of a better opportunity, particularly when it’s one of accomodation and lifestyle, promises can often go out the window. 

The way you respond in the face of these scenarios, and show real leadership and experience to guide your clients through this time, is a telltale sign of the kind of agent you are.  

While it’s not a scenario you’d ever wish upon any client, or yourself, fall-throughs will happen. It’s important to know how to respond so that you stay calm, composed and communicate clearly that you have the process to see them out the other side. 

Rather than just put our own opinions forward, we asked our Homesearch community how they’d handle things, and here are some of the best answers: 

Prepare yourself and your clients for every situation 

Realise that fall-throughs can happen and make sure your clients know you have a plan.

Being a leader during any event starts by preparing ahead of time. 

As an agent, you’re going to feel the brunt of difficult emotions and stress when a fall-through happens. This gets a lot easier, and your clients themselves will handle their own emotions better, if you’ve had the conversation about the eventuality beforehand. 

Without these preemptive conversations, their negative emotions, which influence behavior and decision making, will present you with further challenges.

Deliver the news immediately

Immediacy of feedback is crucial in estate agency.

Simon Gates, one of our newest recruits here at Homesearch, said that in his 13+ year career in agency he found that the sooner you let them know, the better they’re able to process and handle the news.

The reaction of your client is never as bad as you think. If you wait to deliver the news, you’ll often make it worse for them and worse for you than it needs to be.

Nick Cheshire of Nest in Essex adds that “breaking the news in person is so much better too, because they can see your body language with what you’re saying, also it's reassuring because at the end of the day we are dealing with people, and hearing a chain break can be devastating for some people so from a support perspective I think it's important being there so everyone is on the same page as to a route forward before you leave. It’s the personal touch, shows you care. You have come round personally which says a lot, and it shows organisation because when you leave everyone knows what's about to happen and the conversation that follows”. 

Accept the anger 

Andrew Overman of the EA podcast says that when a property sale falls through, tensions - and tempers - run high. 

The best agents understand that even if you’ve had that early conversation with your clients, they’re going to be angry about what has happened. 

Let them vent. Make sure they know you understand their frustration.

Great agents understand and communicate that it is the situation itself that’s the problem, not the people associated with it, regardless of how they act. 

Show empathy

Andrew touched on it above and Charlotte Jeffrey-Campbell from The Able Agent agrees.

When a client loses what they thought was a done deal, there are things they need from you to know it’s going to be okay; empathy, sincerity, genuineness, and confidence.


Have a plan and be decisive 

One thing we, and our guest contributors, all agree on is the need for clear and confident next steps.

Your clients will be looking to you for reassurance and for a plan. If they see fear and hesitancy on your end, it’ll create the same emotions in their own heads. 

Agency trainer, Sarah Edmundson told us “STRATEGY RULES. Take control of the situation immediately. Arrange an urgent meeting with the client to cover over the renewed marketing strategy including database, social media, and portals, demonstrating compassion and commitment and a plan to avoid a recurring event”. 

Be honest and realistic about what you’re facing and what you and your team are going to do to correct it. Don’t try to downplay. Show them you’re ready to go back into battle for them. 

The most effective agents are able to strike the fine balance of not invoking fear while not understating the magnitude of what’s happening.

Andrew Overman went further on his earlier point and said, “we immediately book a face-to-face with our clients, ideally on the same day. We run through a reevaluation of the property, it’s marketing, the asking price and who the next likely buyer will be. From there we just get to work”. 

On a practical point, Mark Worrall from Love2Move had this to share, “get the date instructed on the portals changed by contacting them and providing proof the sale fell through”.  

Bringing it all together...

When things go wrong, the best agents are proactive, empathic, decisive, and flexible.

They control the chaos, so to speak. 

When fall-throughs happen - and they definitely will - communicate and act quickly. Help your clients vent, and use this as an opportunity to process the information at hand and get the sale back on track. 

That’s what your clients need from you and that’s how to lead your clients through a fall-through. 

A special thank you to our guest contributors again, Andrew Overman, Simon Gates, Nick Cheshire, Sarah Edmundson, Mark Worrall and Charlotte Jeffrey-Campbell.