HARDBALL? SOFTBALL? Have YOU Changed Your Negotiating Stance in 2008?

Real Estate Agent with Dean's Team - Keller Williams Realty Partners Chicago IL

Here's one for all you Listing Agents out there!  C'mon - I know there are a couple of you out there - let me hear you!


In the past 14 years sellilng residential real estate in all Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs, I built a career on pricing right, selling close, and staying fairly true to the reasonable market price.  In the dark days of the early 90's (by twist of fate, I was selling something else in the crazy early 80's), I would list Expired Listings by the dozens, adjust the price, stage them properly, market them effectively - and get them SOLD, fairly quickly! 

We played hardball on virtually every negotiation - "price is reflective of condition."  We rebuffed virtually every "money grab" inspection request on a consistent basis.

Today, asking prices that seem right versus very current comps, even those adjusted further downward to take into account the "down roller coaster" effect, are sitting unsold.  Or, attracting lowball offers.  Not even lowballs - crazy lowballs.  Ridiculous inspection demands.  Walk-through requests.  Attorney changes in this "Attorney State" of IL.  High-stress, high-maintenance stuff, indeed!

A few examples -

We have a listing in a nice suburb, good schools, immediately north of Chicago.  A year ago, $469M would have sold it quickly.  Now, we're at $449M.   Got an offer just over $400M - low when even compared to a couple of last thirty days comps.  Buyer's countered by a small amount - then demanded an extended closing date - deal dies.

We list a small three-unit apartment building in the Portage Park Neighborhood, northwest of downtown Chicago.  Very low price.  Mid- $440's.  No showings, however, for four weeks.  Then - paydirt - an offer, albeit a low one.  Our Team member, the Listing Agent, strongly negotiates buyer's offer higher - close to the ask.  During inspection, they find a flashing leak in the roof, by the chimney - a $300 repair at most.  Buyer requests $10,000 for a new roof.  Seller offers $5,500 - more than enough to repair this small roof.  Buyer refuses.  Deal dies.

One Dean's Team listing is a small brick bungalow, middle-class residential neighborhood.  Elderly owners.  Five day negotiation.  Buyers and seller agrees to a low price.  In one of the follow-up showings before the offer, buyer sees elderly seller sleeping in the bedroom - and asks, if he buys the house, can he have a $1,500 credit for a new stove.  Confused, she verbally agrees.  Now - low price, including this high credit is agreed to.  Inspection yields minor suggested repairs - GFIC outlets, minor cracked concrete, etc.  Buyer asks for $5,800 additional credit.  Seller offers $3,000 - PLUS the $1,500 stove credit.  Buyer refuses.  Deal dies.

Now, some of our listing agents are running scared suggesting seller counter ANY OFFER - and that is not good!  We need to remember our fiduciary responsibility, as Listing Agents, to get as much for our seller clients as we can.  But we don't want to do anything that would lose the sellers ANY deal.

Listers, we need to get back to basics here, and always remember who we are working for - OUR CLIENTS!    However, with 75% more foreclosures this year compared to last, little buyer interest despite very attractive interest rates, multiple rate cuts and aggressive "stimulus programs" that most likely won't completely turn things around - should we counsel greater seller flexibility to our clients that trust our advice?

What do YOU think, and what do you DO, in practice?  Please share!



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Karen Anne Stone
New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County - Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth Real Estate
Hi Dean:  I don't quite get what's going on in these people's minds.  The things you describe are usually no where near enough to make a deal fall apart.  Are the buyers and sellers that hard-headed ?  Are your agents not closing hard enough... not impressing their clients they may not get a better, or even another deal like the one they are refusing?  It doesn't make sense.  But, then again, I rarely make sense myself, these days.  Take care...
Jan 31, 2008 12:54 AM #1
Ruthmarie Hicks
Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605 - White Plains, NY
People are digging in their heels and its on both sides of the deal.  Getting people to be reasonable in this market is very, very difficult.  It seems as though the door slams shut too easily. 
Jan 31, 2008 04:17 AM #2
Jonathan Osman
Keller Williams Realty - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte House Hunter Group
We're seeing a lot of softball offers in the hopes of striking a deal.  Heard of an agent locally receiving an offer $200,000 below list price...and values in our market here are going up.
Jan 31, 2008 10:12 AM #3
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Dean Moss

Dean's Team Chicago IL Real Estate Team
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