The Negotiation Dance
E;ective give-and-take communication requires sensitivity and
certain formalities. Here’s how to keep a solid deal from derailing.
The hard part isn’t over once you’ve found the home of your
client’s dreams or received a promising o;er for your listing.
Perhaps the most vulnerable point in the transaction comes
when you’re negotiating the o;er. Your client, whether buyer
or seller, is counting on your insights to come out with the best
In these days of multiple o;ers in many markets, you need
to stay calm under pressure, often while managing the expectations of a number of personalities. Start by making sure you
and your clients are on the same page: In other words, your
negotiation style should reflect their preferences.
“Agents assume that buyers and sellers are going to be
okay with the way they negotiate,” says Peter Ru;ni, GRI, vice
president and managing broker of Coldwell Banker Residential
Brokerage in Cohasset, Mass. “Just because you think some-
thing might be an acceptable risk doesn’t mean they do.”
You may also need to adjust your communication style. The
rapport you and your client have established with each other
won’t always work with other parties involved in a negotiation.
You may need to be more formal. Consider these methods for
improving the negotiation experience for buyers and sellers
while strengthening your client’s position:
Stop texting. Communication should be crystal clear in negotiations, and texts are too often misinterpreted. Vow to speak
only by phone or in person with all parties—including your own
client—while negotiations are ongoing. “I don’t want somebody
interpreting the o;er the wrong way,” Ru;ni says. “I want them
to look at it the way I want them to look at it. So if I can, I want
to do it in person; if I can’t, I want to do it over the phone.” When
coaching other practitioners, “I say this probably a half-dozen
times a week: ‘That should have been a call, not an e-mail. You
should have gone over to talk to the client instead of continuing
to text,’ ” he adds.
Don’t ask open-ended questions. Say you’re helping
sellers address a buyer’s demands for inspection concessions.
Don’t ask the sellers, “What do you want to do?” Instead, give
them three options: accept the concessions and write them into
the o;er; reject the concessions and look for another buyer; or
negotiate some of the concessions. Open-ended questions add
stress to an already tough situation, says Corinne Fitzgerald,
CRS, GRI, broker-owner of Fitzgerald Real Estate in Greenfield,
Mass. But remember, your goal is to empower clients, not overpower them. “It’s very important that you don’t tell them what
to do,” Fitzgerald says.
how to . . .
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