Can’t vs. Won’t

I’m in the middle of the worst part of all real estate deals…………Negotiating repairs after the inspection.  You see, all sellers think that they’ve lived in the house for x number of years, and the things the buyer wants fixed haven’t been a problem for them.  All buyer’s think they are inheriting the seller’s problem house.  Unless one party just totally does everything the other party wants, ain’t nobody really happy.   It is kind of the bummer part of being a realtor, since I want my peeps to be happy!

I’m in one right now where the other agent really needs to take a course on presentation and charm.  Maybe I’ll send him a link to this blog.  See, he told me, in great length, why the seller WON’T do a couple of repairs we asked for.  I don’t know about you, but when I hear WON’T, it makes me want to dig in my heals and push back. 

One of the repairs was over an issue in the backyard.  They had a major landscape company come in and do a koi pond and patio.  I think the reason for the WON’T was because they just couldn’t emotionally bring themselves to “Undo” the work they have done.  That being the case, if the other agent had just said something like “I’m really sorry, but after putting so much of themselves into creating that wonderful space, the seller’s simply CAN’T bring themselves to makes the changes your client wants.”  Isn’t that much better than hearing WON’T??  I mean, the bottom line is that they aren’t going to budge on that one, but getting it in a pill that is a little easier to swallow leaves us not wanting to push back.  

See, we aren’t done yet.  We haven’t accepted their  repairs.  We also have to get past the walk-thru.  Let me ask you this.  Don’t you think it would be easy to turn this into a battle to see who will win?  Wouldn’t you be tempted to get right up to the walk-thru, when the seller has a loaded U-Haul in the driveway, and then have an issue with how one of the repairs were done?   When one party comes across as unreasonable, it makes the other party want to be unreasonable too.  It takes a big person to not respond in that way.

In a real estate deal, both parties have a lot to walk through together.  If you’re the seller, remember that you only have one house to sell and the buyer can go out and pick any of them.  Remember that you want the buyer to find the house acceptable at the walk-thru.    Remember that the buyer has a little more control over the time/date of the closing than you do.  If you are the buyer, keep in mind that you did pick the seller’s house after seeing a bunch of other ones.  Also remember that the seller will be living in the house until you close.   See, both parties really need to keep the other one happy since each have a little control over the other. 

I tried to buy a house in Autumn Ridge a few years ago.  We really liked it.  The roof had hail damage, there was evidence of up to 6 inches of water having been in the crawlspace, and one of the furnaces wasn’t even working the day of inspection.  I put it all on the list, and didn’t really expect the seller to do much of it.  I had in mind the lowest point I would accept.  I could put in a sump pump,  the roof could go a few more years, but I really needed a working furnace.  I didn’t even ask for a brand new one, I just wanted it to work.  The seller wouldn’t do any of it, so I had to walk away.  I guess he felt like he won, but what did he gain?   He got to hang on to his vacant house that needed a new roof and furnace, and had a water problem in the crawlspace.   There was no real victory in that!

So, CAN’T is sooo much better than WON’T, even if the results are the same.  WON’T always comes across as aggressive.  CAN’T at least has a chance of getting some sympathy from the other party.  I don’t remember if it was my dad that told me about CAN’T and WON’T or if it was my old mentor Susan Webb.  Both of them are pretty fantastic, so I guess all that matters is that I learned it.

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