Bob With Arms Wide OpenTo most, January is a time for resolutions. It’s a time for change. For those of us in the Real Estate industry, early spring is the more appropriate time for resolutions. We work hard all year round, but as you undoubtedly know, the winter is often our brief respite–a time to relax and recharge. With spring having apparently sprung, it’s time to declare what the coming year will represent: to us, 2016 is the year of cooperation. It’s undeniable that cooperation, especially in the context of real estate transactions, is key. It may be corny, but it’s undoubtedly true: we’re all in this together. The happier and more respectful we are, the more peace we can expect in return.

First on our list of resolutions is to not “point fingers.” It’s so tempting and often temporarily satisfying; however, there is nothing that sours a relationship quite like pointing a finger. In our office, we use the phrase, “he/she threw someone under the bus.” The sentiment is the same. Deflecting attention to another party by blaming them for the impasse causes significant friction. How can we expect to manage, guide, or lead our clients if we’re down in the mud? Your client has hired you as an expert, not as their cheerleader. It’s tough to give them the stern advice to reach for solutions rather than pointed conclusions.

Resist the urge to lob that after-hour bomb. Sending an email, after a long day of work, is a tempting way to blow off some steam. Throwing that last Haymaker can feel satisfying, but it’s ultimately posturing for a new battle in the morning–or worse  yet, later into that evening. A quick email or text stating that you’re hopeful to reach an agreement or even a quick joke can set the tone for a productive morning.

Seek  out like-minded professionals. This seems intuitive, but all too often we find ourselves negotiating terms with the Seller’s uncle who happens to be an attorney. He may be a tax attorney, but how hard could real estate law be, right? We’ve all had clients that went with the lowest possible rate they could find online–you would think with the name “Big Jim’s Mortgage Emporium and Discount Dry Cleaning” they would have seen it coming–only to be surprised that the lender couldn’t deliver on time. There’s nothing wrong with seeking a low rate, but sometimes that rock bottom price comes with some rocky service. Perhaps even worse, a Buyer or Seller will decide to go alone without an experienced real estate agent. This almost always results in a tough, bumpy closing. The lesson: seek out professionals—your clients will thank you. For some of our thoughts, read our other articles like: Ten Reasons to Use a Real Estate Agent When Selling Your Home .

Approach negotiation strategically. This resolution goes hand in hand with our call for hiring professionals. Much of the service that our clients are looking for is the understanding of how to craft a deal. We understand that, usually, a party cannot get everything they want. It’s hard to ask a client to compromise, but getting that last “morsel” doesn’t promote getting what they truly want. Additionally, demanding a win on each issue may result in “deal fatigue” and possibly withdrawal from negotiation.  There’s an old expression in litigation: “to obtain a binding settlement, both parties must leave equally unhappy.” In real estate, we don’t need to equate negotiation with litigation. Our favorite transactions (and almost always our clients’ favorite transactions) are ones where both sides are happy (or at least satisfied), often finishing with the clients embracing and engaging in a meaningful way. For more, read our article Catching More Flies with Honey in a Hot Real Estate Market. That last repair item or few dollars isn’t worth the pain and risk that it will inevitably bring. Coach your client to swallow their pride and give the other side a small “victory.”

Maintain perspective. It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important by focusing on the minutia of the deal. The Seller listed the property because the Seller wants to sell. The Buyer made an offer because the Buyer wants to buy. Our clients hire us for guidance, not obstruction. It’s the intention of the parties to make a deal, not win a negotiation. Frankly, sometimes it’s our job to get out of the way.

Take the long view. Often, a real estate professional will deal with the same issues routinely. While we all must zealously represent our clients, keep the big picture in mind both short and long term. Short term, keep your client’s ultimate goal in mind. Forcing the issue on each point may not further their global goals. For the long term, remember that you may be on the other side of a similar issue in another transaction. While there’s nothing wrong with an inconsistent position, it’s critical to maintain professionalism. We all work with the same people routinely: your reputation is your greatest asset. It’s hard to improve a reputation for not maintaining a fair, professional demeanor.

With all of this in mind, let’s collectively declare that 2016 will be a year filled with cooperation and many deals for all.

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Stiles Law, with offices located in Boston and Marshfield, Massachusetts, is a firm concentrating in real estate conveyancing and mortgage lending services, representing buyers, sellers, borrowers, banks, mortgage companies, investors, builders and developers in all of their real estate and mortgage transactions. Stiles Law serves all areas of eastern Massachusetts–the North Shore, Boston, and Cape Cod, in addition to the entire South Shore, including: Plymouth, Kingston, Duxbury, Hanover, Pembroke, Marshfield, Scituate, Norwell, Cohasset, Hull, Hingham, Weymouth, Braintree, and Quincy.

Copyright © 2016 Stiles Law, All rights reserved. Stiles Law is a Massachusetts licensed law firm and all content is based on Massachusetts law. The information presented above is meant to be used for general informational purposes and it should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts. No child labor laws were breached during the creation of this Blog, further Bob Bonkley was compensated for his likenesses and appearances in the same.