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The Lost Art of Real Estate Negotiations

Posted by Sherry Rioux on May 25, 2009

In the good old days, it was common practice that offers from buyers were presented in person to the sellers with both sales people involved being present.  Today, much of that personal touch has been lost with many offers presented by fax or between sales people.

Until  the late 1990’s, real estate salespeople were legally obligated to represent the best interest of sellers.  This left sellers with two reps while buyers interests were generally unrepresented.  Thankfully, that all changed when the issues of compensation and representation were separated.  Legislation and standards of practice were changed to allow real estate salespeople to represent their individual clients.

This was an important, necessary and correct change but, it also changed the dynamics of offer negotiations.  In my experience, I noticed that in some cases, other salespeople became almost adversarial during negotiations and certainly more aggressive as they had an obligation to protect the best interests of their clients.  As a result, it became more and more common for offers to be presented between salespeople and without the seller ever meeting the buyers agent.  It also became more common for offer negotiations to get side tracked with emotions or ego trumping common sense.

Personally, I have always had a philosophy that every transaction should be a win-win for both buyer and seller.  Everyone should walk away feeling at least satisfied in the end.  In those situations where that is not the case, the lingering bad feelings can come back to haunt the transaction before or after closing with other problems.  To find that mid point, it is often helpful to have open lines of communication.

When one of my buyer clients submits an offer, I try if at all possible to present it in-person to the property seller with their real estate salesperson present as well.  I give everyone a copy of the offer and then I present a summary of the details in plain language.  I explain as much as I can about the buyers (what they have consented to letting me say) and then I present the reasons for their offer terms and conditions.  Often times, the seller has questions that I’m able to answer right away and sometimes, we are able to have really open conversations about negotiable terms such as closing dates.  I thank the sellers and their representative for allowing me to present the offer, shake hands and leave them to their deliberations.

As many of the people who own properties in the Georgian Triangle reside outside of the area, offers are often handled by fax or email.  In those situations and also in ones where the seller does not wish to have me present my buyers offer in person, I always write a note explaining whatever I might have told them in person.  Again, I’ve often had feedback from the other agents that their clients find that helpful in their decision making.

Sadly, presenting offers in person is become rarer.  While most offers that come in on my listings appear across the fax machine or on my desk, I still think it’s my job to represent my buyer clients offers in person whenever possible.  Letting the sellers meet me and hear about the people who want to buy their home adds a personal touch.  It allows me to more fully represent my clients and to negotiate on their behalf.  It improves the odds of finding a win-win for all parties and, that’s a good thing.

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