Remaining Cheerful When Under Verbal Assault

I had an angry Realtor unleash a vulgar cursing tirade on me today and challenge me to a fight. He said he’d come to my office “and settle this man to man”. I declined, not because I’m a wussy, but because it wouldn’t be prudent or professional. Plus, I have nearly a three decade streak of not putting up my dukes and this didn’t seem like an issue worthy of breaking that streak. I’d rather it be a noble cause such as defending and protecting the honor of another.

No matter how long I’m in this business there remain pleasant surprises around every corner. The agent flipped out because his client’s rental application was not accepted. I had received multiple rental applications on a rental property and chosen another application to approve.

Multiple rental applications are much like multiple sales offers in that it’s the seller’s or landlord’s choice to either pick one, respond to all requesting better offers, or reject all. In this case, being the owner of the home myself, I decided not to try to shop the applications against each other for higher rent offers because I am happy enough with $1,295/mo. and I didn’t want to drag the application process into the weekend. I decided instead to pick the application that was received first, because on face it was not deficient in any way. Had that first application failed to meet the required criteria, or contained undesirable terms, I would have chosen from the remaining two.

Is a landlord required to accept a rental application based on first come, earlier move-in, or any other criteria? No. This other agent has no clue how leasing works, which is common, but his gutter mouthed tirade was unlike any I’ve ever experienced coming from a Realtor.

What is the best way to respond to a verbal assault from a crazed Realtor?

First of all, remain calm and talk in a cordial, soft matter of fact tone. Think of a manly sounding Mr. Rogers. Acknowledge hearing the person without agreeing or disagreeing, then go for a closing line to end the conversation. “OK, I hear what you’re saying and can tell you are angry. The checks are at the front desk and I’m sure your clients will find a house they like even better. Have a good day”.

That didn’t work. So I let him keep venting, expressing his judgments and opinions, then went for another close. “OK. I know it’s frustrating and I feel the same way when it happens to me. The checks are at the front desk and I’m sure your clients will find a house they like even better. Have a good day”.

Why not just hang up?

It doesn’t work and it makes the person even angrier. I’ve done this before with tenants. It’s best to let them vent their tirade to conclusion if they won’t allow a cordial ending of the call.

Finally, the call ended after I was assured in extremely angry and vulgar terms that my Broker would receive a call and I’d be fired. I walked downstairs to give a heads up to my Broker and office manager and, while talking to them, the agent called again and went for round two. This is when, among other things, he invited me to meet him out front with the checks and we’d “settle this man to man”.

15 years ago I’d be shouting back. Older and more mellow now, I thought of him as a hurt little boy who wasn’t getting his way. When children throw tantrums, you don’t try to correct misstatements of fact, or argue, or set the record straight, or shut them up. None of that works. You just listen quietly until their done – however long that takes or until they agree to stop. And so he finally finished and hung up on me.

I’m sure somewhere, some place, there have been Realtors who’ve come to blows. This business seems to bring out strong emotions in both agents and clients sometimes. Multiple offers especially create very strong feelings, probably because it’s a subjective process that is easily viewed as unfair by the unsuccessful parties, and it involves a loss. I’ve listened over the years to both tearful sobbing and begging as well as angry rants and threats. All because someone’s inner child didn’t get their needs met and there just had to be someone to blame.

It’s not enough to attribute such things to the process and “that’s just how it goes sometimes”. There has to be a villain toward whom the emotion is directed and vented, and that villain is usually the agent who delivered the news.

What about the agent’s disgraceful behavior? Just let it go? Yes. Through his ranting it became clear to me he knows not the ways and customs of leasing. In other words, he is practicing in an area of real estate for which he is not sufficiently trained. That’s a violation of the Realtor Code of Ethics Article 11 which states, among other things:

REALTORSĀ® shall not undertake to provide specialized professional services concerning a type of property or service that is outside their field of competence unless they engage the assistance of one who is competent on such types of property or service, or unless the facts are fully disclosed to the client.

I could file a complaint with our Board of Realtors based on violation of Article 11, and he’d be found in violation and be punished in some way. Most likely it would be a reprimand. Oddly enough, the cursing and ranting, though unprofessional, is not “unethical” as it is strictly defined for Realtors. In other words, it’s not unethical to be rude. It’s just unprofessional.

I’m not going to file a complaint unless the agent persists in being bothersome. His tirade was a blessing for me. A chance to practice remaining calm. A chance to let someone have his anger without reacting negatively or being sucked into it myself. Older and more mellow I must be.

6 thoughts on “Remaining Cheerful When Under Verbal Assault”

  1. Steve-
    I liked the story – thanks for sharing, but sorry it happened. It’s tough to be professional when you are on the receiving end of a tirade with some one who blows a gasket. Although I think it takes more integrity and professionalism to remain calm when you are the one wanting to verbally let loose on some one.
    Clearly your adversdary lacked the chutzpah it takes to receive bad news graciously. You win some, you lose some. It’s the nature of the beast in every business.
    I hate to speculate (not really, just want to preface my comment), but I wonder if he made promises to the client and now has mud on his face as a result of the application decision?
    Michael @ The Stage Coach

  2. Steve-

    your blogs are always on that edge of entertaining but very practical. That’s tough to do in RE blogging. nice work man.

  3. Hi Steve,
    Having met you in January and travelled for several days with you looking at real estate, I bought a house through your services because I trusted your judgement, your honest manner and your experience in Austin real estate. This article reinforces that opinion. Well done for handling this obnoxious galah so calmly and professionally.

  4. Hi All,
    I am not an agent just a SAHM/student living in Houston. My situation is as follows: My husband and I have been working with an agent since May 1, 2008. Our lease was up June 30, 2008. They told us its best to hold off because no one would allow a house to be vacant even if we paid our rent monthly. So we waited until May 15, 2008 and started the process looking for a rental home. We found a house, on May 19, 2008. They waited over 4 days to submit the application. Once submitted we recieved a call from our agent saying it was already leased. The other properties she had us look at belonged to her “colleagues.” We were not comfortable with that, as a result, nothing ever came of the houses.

    So we decided to renew our lease for six more months. On October 10, 2008 we started working with them again. They tried to convience us to buy in November, we opted out. Thereafter it was like working alone. Well we figured they were just lazy seeing how they gave us the combos to houses we showed interest in even gave us their supra key once. We haven’t talked to them in weeks no email voicemail snail mail or anything. We NEVER signed the agreement to work with them exclusively yet we were.
    We gave up on them and started looking on our own. December 12, 2008 we went to and started calling people on our own. We found a beautiful well priced home for rent, without their aide. Then they called to “check on us.” They asked what was going on? We responded honestly: we found a house, the listing agent showed us the property, we loved it so much we submitted an application on our own. She told us to give her the MLS to check the house for any storm damage due to the hurricane etc. She called the listing agent and drove our name in mud cursed him out. Thereafter, She called my husband cursed him out from A-Z, then threatened him, told him that “WHITE man” is going to screw us over, we were taking food out of her kids mouthes etc etc. My husband was at work, he is a Manager so he just remained calm told her once she cools off she can call him back or he could even call her. She called my phone five times in a row, I’m assuming to let me have it.
    What can we do about it?
    Sorry So Long,


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