One reason buying or selling a home is different than other transactions is because with real estate, egos are sometimes involved. We often hear about the importance of ‘curb appeal,’ or making a home look good from the street. Yet the ‘curb appeal’ that could be a deal-maker or deal-breaker in your next real estate transaction might be as simple as ‘curbing your own ego.’
When store shopping, most of us know what we want. The list can look different, too. For some, it might be milk, eggs and butter. The list for others may include coffee, a pair of shoes, or even a bicycle. When shopping online, this same principle applies. We’re there for a reason.
One curious commonality about in-store and online transactions is the lack of drama. In part, that’s because we don’t usually haggle about price in those transactions. But they’re also what might be called unemotional purchases.
This frequently isn’t the case for house shopping, where there’s often emotion and a large price tag attached. So we can agree home buying is different than picking up groceries. Another difference worth considering is that home buyers typically deal with people much like themselves, not a faceless, corporate entity on the other side of the transaction. Absent that corporate dynamic, some home buyers sense they can leverage the human element to ‘get a better deal.’ There’s plenty of advice bandied about for bargaining with home sellers. At their core is the thought sellers can be manipulated. Among the most popular of these tactics is writing a sentimental, or ‘heart tugging’ letter to accompany your real estate offer. Sometimes they work, but more often how the offer is written is what matters most.
Have you ever watched a normally calm person behave aggressively while driving? Perhaps they swerve in and out of traffic, or lay on the horn in displeasure when someone cuts them off. A similar phenomena can happen in real estate transactions, fueled in part by emotion and money. Personality changes can look different, depending on each situation. Sometimes they arise out of fear, or a desire for control. The point is that stress can trigger more aggressive behavior that frequently backfires. That’s because depending upon how a home buyer is perceived, perception becomes reality to some sellers. Especially appealing to many home sellers is no added drama to what’s often an already challenging activity.
So instead of blustering one’s way through the offer phase with ultimatums or other counterproductive strategies, more sophisticated home buyers find it effective to first discern a seller’s reason for selling. This provides a clearer picture of what approach might work best. Armed with that data, a more appealing offer can be drafted. Regardless, abandoning the notion of getting a ‘steal’ is helpful, since aside from the occasional horrible real estate market, that’s simply not the norm. Besides, most sellers review recent comparable sales with their Realtor before listing their home and therefore have a pretty good idea of their property’s value.
Real estate transactions are most successful when they include an eye for a ‘Win-Win’ outcome. Simply put, make it easy for both sides to say ‘Yes.’ A key point here is that this means someone doesn’t necessarily have to lose. Making the ‘pie bigger’ is one analogy, where a real estate deal isn’t a ‘zero sum’ game. So by enlarging the pie, it’s possible for both parties to still meet their needs.
Let’s say a home seller experiences delays in moving out, yet the buyers need a place to stay…and soon. There are a panoply of possible solutions, yet any successful outcome will depend on flexibility by each side in considering alternate options. This mutual flexibility then allows movement to the resolution state, where buyers and sellers can mutually consider a fair solution.
In the specific example of a seller delayed in moving out, one solution might be a ‘buyer credit’ for a realistic but ample amount in compensation for the buyers’ temporary inconvenience and costs. Depending on the situation and needs of the parties, another possible resolution could be for both parties to ‘share’ part of the home. Sometimes this kind of agreement relegates the buyers’ moved-in possessions to the garage or other area for a pre-agreed time. Of course there are other entirely different solutions, like having the sellers pay for the buyers’ moving costs, hotel bill and other expenses in exchange for an agreed upon move-in modification date.
Another way to understand this concept is by the term ‘a rising tide raises all boats.’ What’s good for one party frequently benefits another. In real estate, ‘all’s well that ends well’ could mean that in the end, while both parties navigated the ‘storm’ of their transaction being disrupted, the buyers got the house and the sellers got their price. Years later, any temporary delay or inconvenience usually appears minor compared to the big picture of buying or selling a home.
To arrive at a workaround while focused on the common goal of closing a transaction, buyers and sellers won’t know what’s mutually acceptable unless there’s dialogue. That’s why flexibility in negotiation is important, as various options are assessed, with ‘give and takes’ examined. Throughout the process, it’s best to have a constructive ‘can do’ attitude.
What’s Ego & Why ‘Curb’ It?
How we feel about ourselves affects our decisions, since it impacts how we see others. Ego, or how a person feels about one’s self, is part of this. Simply put, ego is a measure of self-esteem or importance. So it can be high, low, or somewhere in-between. While those with big egos seemingly exude confidence, ego isn’t normal confidence. There’s a difference between the two concepts. Confidence is more like ‘I can do this.’ Ego is more like ‘I can do no wrong.’ Another comparison between confidence and ego is that of ‘I’m valuable,’ vs. ‘I’m invaluable.’ The healthier approach recognizes self-worth and the unhealthier alternative is self-centered, often translated as ‘brash’ or ‘pushy’ and turn-offs to most. So while confidence can be a helpful attribute, overconfidence is usually not.
Real estate transactions can be more successful and even enjoyable, with minimal tension between parties. This means collaborative effort is a goal worth considering. While not always 100% achievable, it’s also true that small acts of thoughtfulness sometimes ‘turn around’ the other with whom you’re dealing, especially once they see you’re human, too. The bottom line is that going into the process with an intent of proactive kindness can work wonders.
How Curbing Your Real Estate Ego Can Pay Off
Soon after moving out of their now-sold home, my clients remembered some irreplaceable keepsakes left behind in their old attic. They’d left treasures behind in the hurry of moving and had simply forgotten about them. Now their task was to reclaim those treasured family items. Fortunately, their albeit limited interactions with the home buyers had been friendly. Because the transaction went well, it was an easy phone call to make and the heirlooms were gratefully retrieved.
That’s unlike other (and thankfully less common) buyer-seller interactions with discourteous behavior or perceived slights. In those cases, don’t expect such a follow up request to be so well-received. This all points to making a reasonable effort to maintain a good attitude throughout the life of your real estate transaction, as one never knows what may occur later. Perhaps your kids will someday want to revisit where your family once lived. Paving the way for that future precious walk-through is a goal worth considering now.
Dealing with surprises throughout a real estate transaction reveals a hidden temperament. For example, home sellers can either be offended or understanding if a home buyer takes the advice of their home inspector in recommending certain repairs. It fights logic to think buyers wouldn’t consider taking the advice of such a licensed professional involving the single largest investment of their lives. If home sellers put their ‘buyer hat’ on in such situations and consider what they’d do under the same conditions, a fair outcome is easier to envision.
3 Tips To Curbing Your Real Estate Ego
1. Relax and be contagiously calm.
Consider the concept of ‘contagious calm.’ Real estate is a collaborative activity and people are more cooperative when they’re not constantly competing to get ‘one up’ in negotiations. Also understand some ‘give and take’ is normal during property transactions.
2. Look for ‘win-win’ opportunities.
A key component to successful negotiation is getting what you need, not necessarily what you think you deserve. Separate needs from wants, because each side has both. Regardless of how far apart the parties are, once needs are met a deal is usually possible, since other factors constitute less of an obstruction. While ‘no deal’ is often better than a ‘bad deal,’ be open to creative solutions you may not have considered.
3. Strive to always do right, not always be right.
When your transaction is over, you’ll still be the same person. Will you look back on the process and be pleased the way you handled things, or continue to jump from each of life’s dramas with inflexibility and emotion. Powering one’s way through life can be exhausting and not always effective. Decide to take a step back and see if a different approach might be more effective. That important decision is up to you.
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