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How to Become a Better Negotiator in 9 Easy Steps

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When he started Team Dynamo at Craig Wilburn, CEO of Keller Williams Realty, he lost a deal because of a couch.

Craig Wilburn

“The Couch Fail was a $ 700,000 transaction that I was working on [and] was under contract and I actually had both sides of the deal on this one, ”he told the Connect Now crowd. “It was a personal friend of mine that I sold and we found the buyer. And everything went well until [homebuyer] decided to just make one more pass through the house. “

“We allowed him to go inside and the salesman happened to be home and apparently they were talking,” he added. “During this conversation, the buyer had the impression that the seller would leave his couch in the house.”

Wilburn said a single pass resulted in a series of events that resulted in two additional home inspections and a commission cut to offset the cost of buyer repairs. However, it would be the misunderstanding about a couch that finally filled the deal.

“[The seller] said, “I never told you the couch would stay in the house,” and we paced back and forth and back and forth. In short, I didn’t have enough negotiating skills in my body to save the deal, ”he said. “This deal fell apart. Because of the couch. “

Wilburn and Tahoe Luxury Properties agent Amie Quirarte said they both had their fair share of difficult deals, and each experience taught them to be better negotiators for any type of situation, including sellers who stay months after the sale or in their home must buyers who have to assert themselves in a bidding war against the competition.

Friend Quirarte

“When you start negotiating, you think it’s you against the other agent, but it sounds a bit clichéd, but if you all win then you will win,” Quirarte said. “If you don’t, the deal is dead, then you have nothing.”

“The only person who loses in this case is the buyer and the seller,” added Wilburn. “Remember, our purpose in negotiating is to get buyers and sellers what they want. Not what we want. Not in the way we should imagine. “

Here’s what Quirarte and Wilburn said in order to become better negotiators:

1. Stop seeing negotiation as a bad thing

Wilburn said negotiation had a negative connotation and was often associated with quarreling or fighting. However, negotiating is a natural thing that all people do.

“It’s not just a tool, it’s a way of life because we do it in every way,” he said. “I have several [kids]and they all negotiated with me as soon as they could speak. “

“Whatever they want, they start negotiating,” he added with a laugh. “So we know [negotiation] is a natural thing. “

2. Be aware

Wilburn said the couch fiasco taught him how to make sure he “never lets people have conversations he doesn’t know about”. He said agents not only need to know what the other agent is doing or thinking, they also need to have separate conversations that buyers and sellers might have about items they want to group together into a deal, such as a couch.

3. Check the facts and communicate clearly

Like Wilburn, Quirarte said she had a big gaffe at the start of her foray into luxury real estate. The deal was for a $ 3.5 million home, and buyers and sellers went back and forth over the buyer’s offer, which was $ 30,000 less. After some negotiation between Quirarte and the listing agent, they came to a deal, or so they thought.

“I thought I had explained the proposal to my buyers,” she said. “The sellers would agree to a certain price and the buyers would deduct that from the purchase price.”

However, on the closing day, Quirarte’s customers said they had discovered a discrepancy with the retail price, and Quirarte found they were not properly explaining the deal – a move that saved $ 30,000 from their commission.

“Well, that’s a very expensive mistake,” she said. “The lesson I learned was communication and listening to your customers is so important.”

4. Be an active listener

Both agents said one of the most common mistakes negotiating was listening to to create a rebuttal rather than listening to understand what the negotiators refer to as active listening.

“The challenge that a lot of people face is that most people think that being a negotiator means, ‘I want to win and Amy is going to lose,” “said Wilburn. “If your starting point is from this narrative, you are already losing.”

Wilburn said the best negotiators listen to understand their point of view and “find ways to reach consensus on a common issue.” If the fellow agent and their client feel that you are also concerned about the outcome, then the more likely you will get a deal that will work for your client as well.

5. Include awkward breaks

According to Quirarte, agents need to learn to take awkward pauses when asking a difficult question or trying to gather information that the other agent doesn’t necessarily want to share.

“You make her feel uncomfortable for a second. You just let it go, ”she said. “You just sit and listen. You will be amazed at how much information someone tells you because they are uncomfortable. “

6. Remember, it’s not always about money

Quirarte said people often negotiate to get more money. However, some buyers and sellers are less concerned about the price and may be looking for flexibility with closings or move-in dates.

“Pick up the phone and give the agent a call, especially if you’re competing. And say something like, “Hey, what’s important to your salespeople?” She said.

Offering other advantages, e.g. B. the guarantee of a certain flexibility of the seller with their move-out date after the conclusion, can displace a buyer with a higher bid.

“I have an escrow list on which the sellers have to stay in the house until September and that is non-negotiable. And that’s really not common in Tahoe because most of the homes are second homes, ”she added.

“The person who was able to secure the property said, ‘OK, we’ll let you stay there until September. “If the agent hadn’t been in regular communication with me, they would have just kicked out a large number.”

7. Don’t compete, cooperate

Wilburn and Quirarte said agents need to approach real estate with frontline collaboration. If you are a well known employee, he has more options for every customer you have.

Wilburn said he was more interested in “working together to get a buyer and customer on the same page” than competing with other agents for the largest market share. “Building relationships with other agents is paramount,” he said.

8. Invest in negotiation books and training

Both agents said that taking negotiation classes and building a collection of books on the subject are critical to building better skills. Chris Voss and Daniel Pink were Quirarte and Wilburn’s most popular negotiators. Both have participated in the National Association of Realtors and negotiating classes from other associations.

“I was a bit hesitant,” Quirarte said of negotiating courses. “The first time I heard about this was maybe five or six years ago, and I found these courses very helpful, especially when I was a brand new agent, because it helped me build my confidence.”

9. Practice and build your confidence

Wilburn encouraged agents to build their trust by role-playing with other agents as they know the wide variety of situations you may encounter. The more you practice, he said, the more confident you will be.

“It’s very important,” he said of role play. “The more comfortable you feel with these things rolling off your tongue, the more natural it becomes.”

“You will find that you are not intimidated or even pressured by negotiations,” he added.

Email Marian McPherson

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