How to Negotiate (And How NOT to Negotiate)

I just came out of one of the most frustrating negotiations I have ever encountered.  An agent brought me an offer on one of my listings that not only was contingent on the sale of the buyer’s property, but also had a pre-closing occupancy agreement.  Long story short, this all meant that the buyer wanted to move in before the closing AND there was a slight chance that something could go wrong with the sale of her house….meaning we could have a real mess on our hands unless everything worked out just perfectly.

Naturally, my clients and I were concerned most about what could go wrong and how it would work out if  did.  That is where some negotiation skills on the part of the other agent could have made us more likely to go along with it.  If you’ve read many of my posts, you know my dad is a lawyer.  He is the best negotiator I have ever seen.  Many people (like the other agent) think negotiating is about strong-arming the other party to do what you want, or wearing them down like a used car sales person.  My dad taught me that negotiating is really about removing obstacles so the other party can say yes to you.

If I was this agent, I think I would have first put myself in the shoes of the other party and asked myself what are their obstacles going to be?  Like anybody, the sellers were nervous about what could go wrong, more than they were drawn to what could go right.  If I were the other agent, I would have given me a pre-approval letter from the buyer.  Heck, I might have even given me the pre-approval letter from the buyer’s buyer that the whole offer hinged upon.  I might have given me a copy of the contract on the other house to show me what type of financing that buyer was doing and how much of a down payment they had.  I might have told me that I would keep tabs on the financing of that buyer and offered to call that loan officer for an update before the buyer for my listing moved in…..just anything to show me and my client that this was more than just a half-baked plan full of nothing but good intentions and wishful thinking.

I didn’t get any of that.  All I got was repetitive comments that deals like this happen all the time (which they don’t), and that the buyer made a full price offer.  The full price offer didn’t really carry much weight since we’d only get that price IF the deal closed, and absolutely nothing if it did.  Just shows the agent didn’t think about removing our obstacles in order to get us to agree to what she wanted.

We tried to work with this deal, but ultimately the agent wouldn’t agree to do much that would answer the “What if” and “How” questions. This agent made it about winning and we all came out losers.

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