Negotiation is an important part of a real estate transaction. Protecting the interests of your client is a fundamental duty. Realtors are often hired to get the best deal possible. Clients expect you to be tough. They expect you to be firm. “Your job is to stare down the other side”, I was once told. Which I did, and then we promptly lost the deal.
The truth is, being obstinate is the easy part of negotiating. It doesn’t take much skill to simply say “no”. I’ll be the first to agree that there are times when the demands of the other side are so unreasonable, that walking away from a deal is the best course of action.
However, in most cases with the calm, rational, and experienced guidance of a good Realtor a seemingly difficult negotiation can be favorably resolved. After 20 years of practice and thousands of negotiations I’ve learned some fundamental principles of how to best serve clients in difficult negotiations.
- Focus on the big picture. What are we really trying to achieve? Perhaps it’s getting to the next city to start a new job. Maybe it’s getting closer to the high school so the kids can walk to school. Or it might be downsizing to simplify life. Let’s not let stubborn adherence to trying to win on every point get in the way of the important goal.
- Identify the non-negotiables. Figure out the terms that must be achieved. Every real estate transaction has several points of discussion – price, earnest money, closing date, contingencies, inclusions and so on. Be strong on the must-haves and be flexible on the other items.
- Don’t vilify your opponent. Real estate negotiations are often like dancing with a stranger. They can be a little awkward at first. The other side may come across as unreasonable. But it’s often helpful to better understand their needs so you craft an agreeable solution.
- Look for “win-win” solutions. Yes, it a cliché. But very rarely do “win-lose” or win-at-all-costs negotiations ever survive.
A skilled Realtor will give you good information, keep you calm, be firm when necessary, and deliver a deal that you’ll be happy with. The deal maker is the one that keeps the conversation alive, wins on the important terms, and gets you to your next stage of life.