The lost art of compromise …

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compromise plays an essential role in home sale negotiations

courtesy of Rafal Olechowski ©

When did the art of compromise die?

Well, I’m not so sure it has died, but it certainly has been on life-support. The first time I really realized that the art of compromise was in trouble was 2009. That year I had several home sellers who were very, very angry that they missed the peak of the market. Prices were shaky. They had declined after the market crash, but for the moment, they were holding their ground in some neighborhoods. The trouble was that in each case, my seller’s anger clouded their concern about possible future declines, and this had me worried.

In one case we were negotiating a transaction with a willing and committed buyer – pure gold in that market. Yet the seller was wrangling for every single penny. They wanted extra money to leave a ceiling fan, chandeliers, built-in bookshelves and they even did a couple of rounds over metal mini-blinds. There was no civility with them or their attorney (a litigator who thrived on confrontation).

The art of compromise has an essential role in negotiating home sales…

My father had spent several years of his career as an attorney in real estate law and the one thing he instilled in me in when I became an agent was that real estate transactions tended to wither under aggressive confrontation. That didn’t mean you were a patsy. That meant you went in with your eyes open to where the market was at the time. With your client’s best interests in mind, you then negotiated like a politician. Politics is the art of the possible, not a hostile takeover.

Granted, in buyer’s market, the buyer ends up with a bigger loaf and the opposite is true in a seller’s market. But the art of compromise and a win-win is inherent in the process. No one should should be beaten to a pulp.

Civility and compromise – R.I.P…

The length and depth of the 2008 financial crisis and the long recession that many have still not recovered from, has created a situation where civility and compromise have become all too rare. As a society we have become more confrontational. We confront and move aggressively, often because we can, not because we should.

On the surface, this may seem to be the best way to get what you want. But people forget that when they dig in, it makes the other side is more likely to dig in as well. This accelerated tendency to wrangle has killed many a good transaction and has actually cost those who engage in it far more than being a bit more generous would have.


This is the long way around to explaining my role as an agent. If I have a buyer, I immediately put myself in the sellers shoes. When I walk into a potential listing, I immediately put my buyer’s hat on.

Some think this means I’m “siding” with the “opposition”. But that’s not what I’m doing. My job is to advocate for my clients To do that I need to assess the reality of the market from both sides. My clients often want many things. In one market these things make sense. In a different market, not so much. It’s my job to try and suss out what the other side is thinking and what the market will allow them to do.

Buyers and sellers usually don’t know these nuances. It generally takes someone who has watched these markets daily over a period of years to understand what can and can’t be done in a given situation. Trying to negotiate the un-negotiable can lead to anger all around and negotiations often tend to go downhill from there.

In the end, it comes down to what actually makes sense…

Does it really makes sense in an $800,000 transaction to go to the mat on a $200 light fixture that can be found in any Home Depot?
The answer to that is decidedly “NO!” For either side to get into a big altercation over something like this makes no sense. Yet there are those who will do just that.

Does it make sense to renegotiate because a $30,000 roof needs replacing. The answer to that is decidedly “YES!”

The case for building goodwill…

Another thing that I have found through the years. If one side is confrontational from the get-go, they can use up the goodwill that the other side has for them pretty quickly. That can come back to bite them. There can be many glitches along the road to a closed transaction. Creating goodwill with those on the other side of the closing table is a good thing! You never know when you may need it.

So let’s hear it for negotiation and compromise. It actually leaves both sides richer in the end.

©2017 – RGHicks – – All rights reserved.

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