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It's Not About Being Right, It's About Being Successful

by Tami Bonnell, EXIT Realty


I love negotiating, perhaps because I believe in only one outcome: win/win. Too many real estate transactions are left on the table with the parties unable to reach a satisfactory agreement. Not only does this cost money, but it also keeps buyers and sellers from achieving their dreams.

I believe real estate professionals often miss key opportunities in preparing for and achieving a successful outcome. The biggest mistakes I see include not taking the time to get to know the individuals involved in the transaction, negotiating online instead of in person and acting rashly in a need to be right.

Careful and detailed preparation is important. If you Google the people involved, connect with them via social media and pay close attention to details, you’ll discover several signs that will help you respond during the negotiation process.

The better you get to know someone, learn their motivations and personality traits, the more likely you will be able to read them better. I recall an important negotiation where, after I thought we had reached a settlement, the party on the other side faxed nine typed pages of conditions to my office. My colleagues offered their sympathies on what seemed to be the death of the deal, but I knew differently.

My father used to say, “It all boils down to circumstances and choices.” Because I had taken the time to really get to know the personal circumstances of the party on the other side, I knew what his true concerns were, disguised in legal mumbo jumbo.

In the course of our previous conversations, I learned that his family was the most important thing in his life. I knew that if we could structure the deal in such a way that his wife had options, then we could come to a successful conclusion. We closed 1- days later.

Successful people are habitual by nature. If you develop habits like these with every transaction, I truly believe you will have more smiles at the closing table:

  • Focus on what the other side wants.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Take notes and keep a file on every transaction. You’ll be amazed at the things you pick up.
  • Learn how to read personality profiles and pay close attention to people’s communication style and behavior.
  • Only negotiate in person; demonstrate how much you want it to work.
  • Over-communicate.
  • Never assume.

Before you are face to face across the negotiating table, take the time to review everything you’ve amassed, take a deep breath and visualize satisfied, smiling faces and a successful conclusion.

During the process, keep things calm and conversational. Focus on the end result and remember that everyone in the room is looking forward to the same conclusion: happy home buyers and sellers.

Pose questions, such as "Help me understand," "Tell me more," and "Paint the picture for me." I never use the words "objection" or "condition." I only use "concern."

Also, these phrases have worked for me in the past: "I understand you have a few concerns. Let's meet so we can discuss solutions." And, "I am sure we can come to a workable solution for all."

Your preparation plays an important part, and the more you know about circumstances, priorities, preferences and principles the more likely it is that you’ll achieve a successful outcome.

Keep track of all of your transactions. At the conclusion of every negotiation, write down what worked and what you would change next time. Becoming an expert negotiator is all about experience; it's the best teacher there is.

I always negotiate from a position of love. During a negotiation, so often personal defenses kick in, and the urge to be right to the detriment of the others can be overwhelming. However, if you focus on love and the end game, your behavior will reflect it. Being successful is always better than being right.

Tami Bonnell_thumbnailTami Bonnell, CEO of EXIT Realty Corp. International, is a 30-year veteran of the real estate industry. Among her many achievements, she was recognized by trend-watcher Stefan Swanepoel as one of the "Top 20 Most Powerful Women in Residential Real Estate" and one of the "Top 20 Most Powerful Real Estate Franchise Executives."

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