One of the things that I strive to communicate to my clients is the importance of understanding the transaction from the “opposing” side. I use that word not in an adversarial way, but simply because it is accurate. The sellers and buyers are at opposite ends of the settlement table, but one of my jobs is reminding people that regardless of whether they are buying or selling, everyone wants the same outcome.
The sellers’ goal is to sell their home. The buyers’ goal is to buy their home. The mortgage company wants to lend the money because that means collecting fees and interest which keep them in business. The agents want the home to change hands because that means their bills get paid and their family can eat for a few more weeks. Everyone wants the same thing, though sometimes it may seem that no one does.
In our society, we have put far too much emphasis on being right or “winning” an argument. Now one of my core values is to do WHAT IS RIGHT before what is profitable. Notice that it doesn’t say TO BE RIGHT. Believe me, BEING RIGHT would be a lot easier than DOING WHAT IS RIGHT. As the old adage says, “Sometimes the hard thing and the right thing are the same thing.” The seller who decides that winning the negotiation is more important than selling their home will be setting themselves up for one of the most stressful, unpleasant experiences of their entire life. I am baffled that sellers are so easily offended when trying to sell their home that they forget the main objective, which is to SELL THEIR HOME.
I can usually recognize the tell-tale signs, which if I’m being honest can easily be mistaken for a child being offended on the playground and subsequently taking their ball and going home. I’ve watched in horror as sellers go out of their way to sabotage the sale of their home for no other reason than wanting to put one over on the buyer and get the better end of the deal.
This is why it is so important that sellers remember that once upon a time, not so long ago (apologies to Bon Jovi), they, too, were buyers. Sellers often balk at the idea of having to foot the bill for both sides of the agents’ commission, conveniently forgetting that when they bought the home, they didn’t pay a realtor to help them, the seller did. They also don’t expect to have to do any repairs to the home because they “lived in it just fine.” The funny thing is, if the seller didn’t spend money to keep their home in above average condition during all of the years that they lived there, then why do they think the buyer should foot that bill? More importantly, why are they offended that someone offers less than asking price and then has a list of repairs they would like to have done?
The money will be spent, whether it is over time through home improvement projects, or when it comes time to sell. Wouldn’t you rather enjoy those improvements while you still live there? Instead of fixing everything for someone else to enjoy?
Sellers, put yourselves in the buyers’ shoes. (Don’t worry, I also give the same advice to buyers). Imagine what it would have been like if you found your dream home and the homeowner was being difficult or unreasonable in their “take it or leave it” stance to negotiations. It would be hard, and would no doubt taint the entire home-buying process.
Now you may have purchased your home under negative circumstances, and you personally dealt with a very difficult homeowner who tried to stonewall you every step of the way. I’m sorry for that. I truly am. But you can break that cycle by not using that emotions of that experience to cloud your judgment now that you sit in the seat of homeowner. The person who will want to buy your home does not deserve the same treatment you received. Just as you didn’t deserve it when it happened to you all those years ago.
As you prepare to sell your home, I implore you to seriously consider the transaction from both sides. What are some things that would concern you as a buyer? Are there any wonky workarounds that you’ve lived with for years that may be in need of repair? Would you want to pay more for a home than the data shows it is worth? All of these questions need to be asked before your home hits the market. That way, you price your home accurately, market it truthfully, and attract a like-minded buyer who wants to make this transaction as smooth as possible.
I truly believe that we can make a difference in real estate by being authentic and generous in the midst of a superficial and self-centered industry. Instead of trying to win a negotiation, it’s time for current and future homeowners to seek a “win-win” solution so that we can be better people and better neighbors, working together to build a better community, and hopefully, a better world.
At this point you may be ready to find another person to talk to you about your real estate needs. A real SHARK. A strong negotiator who takes no prisoners. Believe me, there are plenty of those people out there. And they are perfectly content to burn bridges and leave a trail of bloodied victims in their wake. I, on the other hand, would like to BUILD bridges. For me, this industry is not about transactions, numbers, commission, and making a name for myself. It’s about people, relationships, building a community, and leaving a legacy.
I know this approach may seem hopelessly optimistic and even naive. But I don’t care. I believe it is the right thing to do. I’d rather leave a little profit on the table if it means inviting more people to the table of home-ownership and helping others fulfill their dream.