Austin TX Real Estate - Hill Country Austin Lakeway Homes for Sale: I Sold 14 Houses and Didn't Get Paid!!

I Sold 14 Houses and Didn't Get Paid!!

Why do some buyers and their agents part ways? Let me tell you a story. It's a long story, but I'll shorten it as much as possible...

I was working with these buyers about a year and a half ago. We found a house they loved, wrote an offer, and as soon as all the terms were agreed to and we were ready to execute, the buyers decided to lease for another year.

About 6 months go by, and they contacted me again. They changed the area they wanted to buy in and completely changed the condition of the home they were looking for. We looked at several houses, and they decided to change on me again. They now wanted a fairly updated house so they didn't have to do the work, and they also wanted a 2 story home because they felt the feel of a 2 story home was the feel they wanted. We eliminated all 1 story homes...

real estate frustrationsThey would love a house, we would write an offer, there would be multiple offers, and they would lose... this cycle repeated several times. Each time, I helped them feel more comfortable with stronger offer terms to make them stand out from other offers.

We got to a point where there were high earnest money deposits and very high option fee moneys. They waived appraisal a couple of times. They asked for $0 closing costs assistance and always had 20-25% for the down payment so the sellers could see they were strong. On one house, they even went $21,000 over the asking price. Most other houses, our offers were at least $10k over asking, if not a little more.

As they lost house after house, their criteria changed again. They started writing offers on houses that were nothing like what they were wanting. They felt they just had to buy "something".

For 5 months, they lost out on 12 multiple offer situations.  House 13 was the winner... so I thought... I was able to find out about this listing before anyone else. My clients saw it first and were the first offer. The listing agent knew what our situation was. She felt for the buyers. They received other offers, but decided to work with our offer.  The buyers do their inspections, they have 7 days. On the morning of the 7th day... yet, you guessed it... they backed out of the contract!!

"Why did we win? Why did they pick our offer? Why didn't anyone else offer as much as we did? Is the house not worth the price we offered?" These were all the questions that immediately were rambled off their lips. My response? "You bid to win, not come in second! You've been second several times. I think you're addicted to the chase. I think you like looking at houses and writing offers and second guessing yourselves, and that you are so scared to actually buy a house..."

I told them they were emotionally draining me and they needed to do some deep thinking as to what they really wanted. That was July.

This weekend, I decided to look them up in the tax records to see if they ended up buying anything the past couple of months. They did... they bought an old, 1 story house, in an area they didn't want to be in... and all I can do is LAUGH!!

That might sound mean, but I've seen the house. What were they thinking? It's like they just gave up and bought the next house they blindly pointed to on a map.  I worked so hard counseling them and being their friend and helping them not make a mistake.

In the end, I sold them 14 houses, and didn't get paid one cent.

No, it's not always good to continue to work with a buyer even when you want to help them so bad. Some buyers can't be helped...

**Are You Packed Yet?**

donna harris Realtor Austin TX blog

Donna Harris, REALTOR®
Regent Property Group

Austin TX Real Estate and the surrounding areas of Lakeway, Bee Cave, West Lake Hills, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Spicewood, Circle-C, Steiner Ranch, and everywhere in between... Hill Country Austin TX Real Estate and beyond. Whether you're buying or selling an Austin home, I'll be with you every step of the way. 

For real time Austin TX listings,click here.

** Multi-Million Dollar Producer Year after Year **

Copyright© 2013 By Donna Harris, All Rights Reserved. You may re-blog with links back to this post.
*I Sold 14 Houses and Didn't Get Paid!!
* was first published on


Comment balloon 69 commentsDonna Harris • October 14 2013 12:38PM


There are alwasy buyers like that...and sellers too. Oh, we priced it too low! We aren't taking that offer. (4 months later...Why hasn't our house sold?) ARGH!!!!

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) over 6 years ago

I've run across buyers like these over the years and they never seem to consider the impact of their actions on the agents they work with.  To buyers like these, the process of buying a house is more painful than it has to be while they waste time looking for "perfect" only to see it slip away time after time.





Posted by Bryan Robertson over 6 years ago

Donna, it sounds like they clearly needed a psychologist, too bad you had to be both their agent and their counselor, and lost the commission.

Posted by Bob Crane, Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671 (Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams Fox Cities) over 6 years ago

Might be time to cut those buyers lose.  So much easier to work with sellers, in any market.

Posted by Richard Weeks, REALTOR®, Broker over 6 years ago

Ouch, that's so painful, and so protracted. It's like the pain never ends, and you are just getting dragged through the streets.

Posted by Brad MacKenzie, Turning Houses into Homes on the South Shore (Brad MacKenzie) over 6 years ago

Hi Donna!  That is not the first time I have heard of this happening.  

Posted by Kathy Sheehan, Senior Loan Officer (Bay Equity, LLC 770-634-4021) over 6 years ago


You get involved with a customer with a lack of character. Tomorrow it will good to be you . . . . as for them they will wake the same way they went to bed with no character.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Posted by Lou Ludwig, Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC (Ludwig & Associates) over 6 years ago

Oh man... so tough. 

Posted by Sheree Holsey, I am Happy to Help You Find your Way Home! (Sold Buy the Sea Realty) over 6 years ago

Wow! I'm so sorry...but at least you can laugh about it, which is all we can really do. 

Posted by Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner, Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395 (Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395) over 6 years ago

You have far more patience than I do!  I did that with 3 and fired them...wound up buying from the listing agent, overpaid and like your buyers, wasn't even REMOTELY where they wanted to be!  Common sense is, unfortunately, not shared equally among all buyers!

Posted by Debe Maxwell, CRS, The right Charlotte REALTOR! ( | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310) over 6 years ago
Oh man what a painful story. I really feel for you! Unfortunately we've all been through it.
Posted by Kerry L Klun, Broker/Owner, 321-626-5868 (Palm Realty) over 6 years ago

There is rash of that type of Buyer in our neck of the woods right now!

Posted by Pam Jank, Your Coeur d'Alene & North Idaho Real Estate Pro (Coldwell Banker Schneidmiller Realty) over 6 years ago

Hey Donna,

That situation sounds familiar. 

Posted by Barry Kessler, Barry Kessler (Pinnacle Estate Properties, Inc.) over 6 years ago
Donna - How frustrating that kind of situation is. They talked themselves out of a good home and into a other just to have one.
Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) over 6 years ago

Unfortunately, I've been in your shoes and it is not funny. Working with the first time buyers, being the second, third, etc. selling agent is much easier, since they've been educated, prepared and they are finally ready to close their eyes and jump. But if you are that very first agent~ it can be very time consuming and draining.


Posted by Inna Ivchenko, Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA (Barcode Properties) over 6 years ago

I wonder if their behavior would have changed if they were paying you by the hour..........

Posted by Barbara Tattersall, GRI (Keller Williams Realty Metropolitan (Keene,NH)) over 6 years ago

I loved Lou's comment (#7). We provide counsel, but some buyers are just not ready emotionally. It's really hard to cut some people loose and the more time we invest, the harder it becomes. My first sales trainer taught the Four SW's:

Some Will

Some Won't

So What

So many are Waiting.

Use that anaology, and it is easier to brush off the clients who won't/can't be helped.


Posted by Anne M. Costello (Weidel Realtors) over 6 years ago

Hi Donna,

Just had a similar VERY surprising experience with a seller.  He went with another Listing Agent after promising to work with me.  Oh well.  Roll with it and keep going.  Best of GREAT success to  you always!

Posted by Jordon Wheeler, J W Group Real Estate Sales and Service (The Jordon Wheeler Group) over 6 years ago

Crikey! I suppose hope springs eternal, but on some level you probably had a clue about these people after two or three contracts. My attitude is three strikes and you're out!

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Realty) over 6 years ago

Sounds as if you were overly patient!  At least you didn't help them buy a dump!!  Great blog.

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) over 6 years ago
As I read your story I thought to myself you are describing one of my current "buyers". I feel your pain. It's painful to work hard for so long and never get compensated. On to the next great buyer. Best of luck
Posted by Kim Boekholder Utah Real Estate, Broker, Results Real Estate (Results Real Estate 801.580.5624) over 6 years ago

Oh gosh, how frustriating, Donna.  Yes, some people just can't make a commitment.  So sorry they took up so much of your time.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 6 years ago

Buyer tells me, I want to buy a house with cash. Be glad to help you, let's meet, you get proof of funds ready so we can write an offer if we find something you like. I want to look, sorry but I do not show houses just to show houses. Note to buyers...the market has changed, the inventories are lower, don't waste your time and especially my time. Just venting...thanks!

Posted by Raul Rodriguez, Looking out for the client's interest and not my p (Covenant Partners Realty) over 6 years ago

The 4SWs (Anne #17) are the best advice.  It's so hard to give up a potential commission, especially when your time and hard work are so invested.  I think many of us have struggled with when to let energy drainers go.

Posted by Jean Jannopoulo, Robert Slack LLC (Love where you live) over 6 years ago

Donna, what a fantastical  I've felt in near situations myself, I never got that high in "near sells" to one client....and ironically I'm one of those agents that will not give up on a client that I see as a real buyer....but I have to say I've lost a few similar to yours....Again, you beat me on your level of commitment!  

Kudos to you for being a great Realtor...time to focus on being a Listing Agent (?)

Posted by Crystal De Raffele, NYS Lic. Real Estate Salesperson ( over 6 years ago

Hi Donna,  I feel for you!  What a nightmare that was. I can see how you are actually relieved now though.  Hope the next ones turn out better.

Posted by Ricki Eichler McCallum, Broker,GRI,ABR, e-Pro, TAHS (CastNet Realty) over 6 years ago


What an awful experience, you gave them such great service, and were probably wise to turn them loose, who knows how many offers they had to put the other agent through to win that home!

Posted by Jared Garfield, Invest With The Best For The Highest Returns! (Rich Life Real Estate Team) over 6 years ago

I've always thought that no matter how deep you're in it, you can always get out. I think some agents would continue to run around in circles with them. Sometimes you just have to know when to fire a client. I bet you had a sense of freedom after that.

Posted by Steven Barks, Director of Operations (Worth Clark Realty) over 6 years ago

Ugh, and after all that, they wound up buying a home from elsewhere.  

I've been in the same situation with offers on several homes and they started out not listening to my advice on what would make a good offer.  But they only bid on two or three homes, and then they disappeared.  I probablly would have kept going as well (maybe even 14 times!) -- I would have wanted to be able to find them the right home. 



Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (406-270-3667,, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty) over 6 years ago
Donna, Most of us have had similar experiences. It is extremely frustrating when you are working with buyers who question their own decisions. Some work out and some don't.
Posted by Bill and MaryAnn Wagner, Jersey Shore and South Jersey Real Estate (Wagner Real Estate Group) over 6 years ago

Donn, sometimes you just have to cut them loose. It's beyond your control when good offers aren't accepted by sellers, but when a good offer is accepted and the buyer backs out, it time to say next.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 6 years ago

I feel your pain.  But then you wonder that if you had just hung in there one more time that at least you would have a commission to soften your pain.  I guess hindsight is 20/20.

Posted by Tim Maitski, Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal (Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage) over 6 years ago

What a journey that's been for you Donna. I feel for you. But some people will just never learn.

Posted by Suzanne Otto, Your Montgomery County PA home stager (Six Twenty Designs) over 6 years ago

I admire your patience. I would have "fired" them early in the process you described.  We only have so much time and energy and they to precious to waste.



Posted by Team Honeycutt (Allen Tate) over 6 years ago

People just don't get it sometimes, and it hurts both emotionally and in the pocketbook! Thanks for the story that I am sure we all share to a degree. 


Posted by Kelle & Kevin Wirt, "There is a new Horizon in Hill Country RE!" (The Wirt Team - Horizon Realty) over 6 years ago

Thank you for all the comments. Yes, it was very frustrating. I was "popping" for every new listing they had to see, for 5 months, and I never do that! I bent over backwards for these people. I missed dinner with my family, I missed gymnastics, I missed swim lessons... I would wait at houses as the wife was perpetually 20-30 minutes late.

It was a huge weight off my shoulders when I didn't have to work with them anymore, but it definitely would have been nice to receive something for my efforts.

I still get to laugh as rates went up from their initial pre-approval of 3.25% in February, to 4.75% by the time they bought.  They lost more than me!! 

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 6 years ago

That's harsh, you set them up over those months and someone else walked in a picked a cherry

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 6 years ago

I had a similar experience afew years ago, Buyers kept changing criteria and making offers and backing out. One day they just disappeared, I was actually ok with that.

Posted by Harold Smith (Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices) over 6 years ago

Similar happened to me last year -- that's why I will not have the commitment to a home buyer that they don't have for working with me. When I had to miss dinners, school and activity events, and make other pickup and take to school arrangements and the buyer is that disrespectful to go off and buy with another agent, I have decided I won't miss another family dinner or school event because of a flakey homebuyer in the future.  

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) over 6 years ago

If she was habitually 20-30 minutes late, I would have dropped them a lot sooner.  Nothing ticks me off more.

Posted by Jeanne Gregory, The most important home I sell is YOURS! (RE/MAX Southwest) over 6 years ago

The reason they bought from someone else is because you knew too much about them and they were embarassed to come back to you.

You were just too nice...

Eve in Orlando

Ps:  I will bet money that the couple will not stay together...

Posted by Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) over 6 years ago

Donna, you are a better person than I am. I would have been ticked after all that work.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) over 6 years ago

ouch!  You are in good company but good grief, that is just a painful story. 

Posted by Francine Viola, REALTOR®, In Tune with your Real Estate Needs (Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty, Olympia WA) over 6 years ago

You have much more patience than me especially when I think of all the time it took you working with these folks and what you could have done and acconplished with that time in a more positive and supportive relationship. Have you said to yourself, never again?

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) over 6 years ago

Oh my. You are very patient and dedicated.... and then they just buy something. So sorry!

Posted by Katherine Gooding, Google Trusted Independent Photographer, Get your business on the map! ( & Katherine Gooding Photography) over 6 years ago

So many, many comments I can make.  First, this shows how you are a true professional and the customer service goes above and beyond.  Second, you are patient and dedicated.  I've had this happen a few times, not to the level you've encountered and I've looked them up too . . . my case proved they bought about $70,000 ABOVE what they wanted originally.  

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) over 6 years ago

It is not always easy to work with buyers and not all of them are loyal to their agent either. Sorry you had to go through this.

Posted by Rekha Vyas (Keller Williams Realty of Brevard) over 6 years ago

They were so used to losing houses, they questioned (second-guessed) the only good one they were going to get. That's horrible for you and I don't blame you one bit for the way you feel.

Posted by Jill Sackler, LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate (Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500) over 6 years ago

Donna, I feel your pain! Our market in similar now in DFW and it's hard to 'train' buyers to make strong offers and listen to our advice. Sometimes they just don't have realistic expectations.

Posted by Lara O'Keefe (North Texas Home Finders) over 6 years ago

Ouch is right!  That is a lot of time and energy wasted.  At least you can laugh about it now.  It is funny though, maybe their purchase proves the old "buyers are liars" or they really did just point on a map and pick one.  Either way, I am sure that you will set the limit at half as many offers for the next buyer.  Maybe three strikes and you are out?  Every situation is different....

Posted by Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group) over 6 years ago

Yes, I was too nice, and am too nice. I try to see the good in all people and it's hard for me to turn them away. It's hard to put a 3 strikes rule on my market because that's how quickly the houses are going. If they are a cash buyer, I can see a rule lke that, but the cash buyers are winning the multiple offer situations over the finance buyers, and the finance buyers have to just keep trying, as long as they're putting together strong offers.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 6 years ago

Totally agree, and I'd just get myself mad if I counted all the offers that didn't fly with one buyer I had earlier this year.  You have to wonder what they are thinking when they just pick something they said they didn't want in the 1st place.  They wore themselves out.

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) over 6 years ago

Oh how I've been there.  Fortunately the last time it went this way I was the one to write an offer on the house that was everything she said she didn't finally I did get paid. at least a little

Posted by Jim Beitz (Keller Williams Success Realty) over 6 years ago

Representing Buyers is just too damn painful for me - there is much more control with listings.

Posted by Raymond Denton, Veteran Friendly Realtor® (Homesmart / Evergreen Realty) over 6 years ago

Donna, these guys really do sound like they are decision making impaired - big time!  You have a lot more patience than I do.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (Redfin) over 6 years ago

Donna this is a story I can relate to, put your were far more patient than I was.  Usually this type of a situation does not end up with the buyers making the best decision.

Posted by Jennifer Fivelsdal, Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection ( JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571) over 6 years ago

Donna, sound like you were more than patience with them. 

Posted by Mike Crosby, Placentia- Yorba Linda Real Estate - 714-742-2897 (Mike Crosby Realty) over 6 years ago
OUCH!! Speechless
Posted by Patti Irwin, No Pressure, No Sales Pitch, Just Expert Advice! (HomeSmart Lifestyles-Fountain Hills AZ Real Estate) over 6 years ago

Oh Donna, that is tough.  I have to admit looking up past clients in the tax records to see what they purchased and had a smile when I see that they did.  Some clients aren't worth the emotional cost to work with and we need to know as professionals when to step away.  

Posted by Kim Peasley-Parker (AgentOwned Realty, Heritage Group, Inc.) over 6 years ago

Oh Donna, I believe you are in the company of many other real estate agents involving Buyers like this.  You are a professional and did the best you could, you let them go before they sucked away all your energy.

Posted by Bette Gottwald, "Bet"on Central PA Real Estate! (UNITED REAL ESTATE | Central PA) over 6 years ago

Some people....!!  You have more patience than I do.   Some people sabotage themselves and it is sad to watch.

Posted by Robert Fowler -, 55+, Active Adult and Retirement Communities (President of Retirement Media Inc.) over 6 years ago

Amazing story.

Do you typically work with a Exclusive Buyers agreement?

Posted by Brian DeYoung, Brian DeYoung ( Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) over 6 years ago

Sometimes buyers are worse than those emotionally attatched sellers. But you're right, some people are not worth dealing with and you did the right thing by voicing your opinion on how they were behaving. Things will always come around so keep doing well and you will be taken care of. Best of luck!!

Posted by Chandler Real Estate Liz Harris, MBA, #ChandlerRealEstateAgent (Liz Harris Realty) over 6 years ago

Impressive patience! Keep sewing and you will reap. And thanks for sharing the story--we can all learn something from it!


Posted by Paul Collier, Paul Collier (Patriot Home Mortgage) over 6 years ago

I think I will Stick to The Seller side of Real Estate ........Great Post

Posted by Tyrone Brown over 6 years ago

Yep well said some people are their own worst enemy. It also comes into play for success. Some people fear success that even when its chasing them down they find a way to hide from it???

Crazy, crazy and a little bit more of crazy!!!!!

Posted by David Shamansky, Creative, Aggressive & 560 FICO - OK, Colorado Mtg (US Mortgages - David Shamansky) over 6 years ago

I know this story well. For some reason people can loose thier focus. When you drop them I often think they find a "pushy" agent and they are bite the bullet and buy something. Some people are perpetual shoppers, and just want company with something to do. I had one of those for years.  It is a hazard of our profession, I think.

Posted by Tanya Van Blake-Coleman, Improving the Quality of Your Life (Van Blake-Coleman Realty, St. Thomas/ over 6 years ago

Good Morning and this hurts!! Keep up the good work and good luck with your business,  E

Posted by Ed & Tracy Oliva, The Oliva Team Arizona Agents (West USA Realty - Arizona) over 6 years ago

Yikes I am not that patient.  I would have fired them very quickly.

Posted by Tim Lorenz, 949 874-2247 (TIM LORENZ - Elite Home Sales Team) over 6 years ago