Tips and Traps When Negotiating Real Estate: Beware of Choosing “Nice” People to Represent You

Play the Players: Beware of Choosing “Nice” People to Represent You

This is a simple rule to understand, but difficult to follow. Most buy­ers and sellers of real estate are average people who really don’t want a lot of hassle in their lives. Therefore, when it comes time to find an agent, they often choose the “nicest” one. That usually means the agent who is pleasant, offers them the least amount of resistance or trouble, goes along with what they say, and generally makes them feel good.

But, that’s not necessarily the best agent to have. For example, when selling a property, it’s the agent’s duty to inform the seller of the true market price of the property, as best they can calculate it.

But sellers often don’t like to hear that their property is worth less than they think it is. So the “nice” agent may just agree with what­ ever price the sellers have in mind, hoping that later on, when it doesn’t sell, they’ll come down. The sellers would be better off with a hard-nosed agent who would say, ‘You may want $330,000, but it’s only worth $315,000.” That’s not a nice thing to say. But if it’s the truth, it may mean the difference between selling or waiting and not being able to dump the property immediately.

I’ve seen buyers who fall in love with an agent who takes them all around showing them wonderful properties, most of which they can’t afford. Or an agent who doesn’t inform a buyer that an offer he or she is making is unrealistically low. (It’s the agent’s duty to inform a buyer if the offer is unlikely to be accepted, not argue with the buyer and try to coerce him or her to raise it.) Or, in the worst case, an agent who is so nice that he or she writes up a buyer’s offer with the price and all the conditions they want. Then, when the sell­ers reject it out of hand, takes back a counteroffer with the price and all the conditions the sellers want, never making any effort to be realistic with either buyer or seller. The result, almost always, is no deal. The agent is simply too “nice” to be a good negotiator.

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I want an agent who represents me to be hard-nosed, irritating, and determined; to have learned his or her business in the backrooms; and to tell it like it is and get what he or she goes after. I want the other guy to have the “nice” agent.