Tips and Traps When Negotiating Real Estate: Only Deal with the Person Who Has the Power to Decide

Play the Players: Only Deal with the Person Who Has the Power to Decide

Would you walk onto a car lot and try to buy an automobile from the person who’s standing there washing the cars? Would you go into a jewelry store and attempt to buy a gold ring from a security guard? Would you try to buy stock from a broker’s receptionist or place a classified ad with the newspaper delivery boy? These examples of dealing with the wrong person are obvious, yet every day in real estate people do attempt to deal with people who don’t have the power to decide, who don’t have any more power to conclude a deal than a car washer, security guard, receptionist, or delivery boy.

For example, you own a duplex that you want to rent and you spend several hours talking to a fellow who seems very interested, only to learn that, in his family, the decision to rent is made solely by his wife. Or you’re a seller who’s trying to sell “by owner” and you spend half a day trying to convince a person to buy, only to realize later that the person is a real estate agent who isn’t interested in buy­ing and only wants to list. (Agents are ethically bound to reveal their professional status to you immediately, but . . .) Of you’re a buyer who wants to secure financing and you spend a morning with a mortgage broker only to find out that he doesn’t represent any lenders who will give you a loan given your financial condition (although other lenders might).

The problem here is simply one of dealing with the wrong person. Get to the right person and you’ll be able to sew up a deal quickly. But if you’re working with the spouse who doesn’t make the deci­sions, the agent instead of the principal, or the representative instead of directly with the lender, you could be wasting your time, getting frustrated, and, potentially, lose out on a good deal.

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