Kill Karen With Kindness – Life Lessons in Florida Real Estate

In my first year in real estate, both due to a lack of experience and just a general hunger, I ended up working with many bizarre characters in their pursuit of a new home. One client in particular was particularly hellish to work with and closing on her home is still one of the happiest days I’ve experienced in this business.

This client was a Certified Grade A Karen. To this day still one of the rudest, most entitled and disrespectful people I have ever met. Karen seemed to live under the impression that you had to be relentless to get what you want in life. There was no one that she couldn’t find a reason to yell at. Usually to nickel and dime. On top of that, she was incredibly demanding insisting we spend hours every day driving around South Florida looking at every house that was for sale. I often thought of just walking away. But that would have made all the suffering for nothing. Getting to closing day was a necessity.

The great lesson I learned from my experience working with her is sometimes it’s not worth it.” Being much younger and  dumber, I persevered, which is how I found myself sitting around a conference table with her, a real estate attorney and the lender for a closing on her new home.

Real estate agents typically do not get paid until closing day.

If you don’t make it to closing day, you don’t get paid for your efforts. This is why her particular closing date was so exciting, as I could finally sever my relationship with this person.

I was so anxious and excited about the closing that I was unable to sleep the night before. I spent all night awake in bed fantasizing about all the different ways I was going to tell this lady off and how satisfying it would be. Every subsequent fantasy was more elaborate and more satisfying, yet at the same time, knowing this lady was an emotional powder keg made the whole thing very stressful.

As I pulled up to the title company, I could feel that nervous energy in my body. The same feeling you get when you go into work knowing you are going to quit your job, or when you’re finally going to stand up to your bully. I made sure I was early, so I could be in the room before her. As it turned out, I wasn’t early enough. She was already in the room with the real estate attorney handling the closing. As soon as I walked in, I could feel her eyes searing red hot hate into me. It looked like she was also full of many many nasty things she couldn’t wait to say to me.

It was at this moment that a lesson my grandfather had taught me several years before suddenly came to mind. In that instance I knew exactly what I had to do and say.  After two endless hours, most of which she spent shooting the same hate daggers my way from her eyes, the real estate attorney finally completed the closing and handed me my check. I was now free to tell this horrible Karen everything I thought of her. Before I could, she rushed out of the room to use the restroom, so I went out into the hall to wait for her and say my peace.

As she came out I approached her.

The following words left my mouth, “I sincerely hope that now that you have found your home that you will be happy and that going forward, everything will go your way and you can continue being happy in life.”

I braced for the inevitable snarky response, but that is not what happened. Instead the lady started bawling. She apologized to me repeatedly for being a Karen.  She said I had done a phenomenal job and didn’t deserve all the abuse she gave me. I thanked her and made my way out, as she then re-entered the conference room. I was told afterwards that she continued crying uncontrollably for a while after I left.

So what was the lesson I suddenly remembered? Kill them with kindness.

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Roderyck Reiter

Roderyck Reiter has been a South Florida resident since 1995 and a licensed realtor since 2010, specializing mostly in foreign investors. He has experience in residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural transactions.