Home pricing negotiations are seldom easy. Regardless of how well everyone at the negotiating table gets along, points of contention are bound to come up — and occasionally, you may find yourself between a rock and hard place, trying to salvage a deal where both sides refuse to budge.
The ability to break through a stalemate is a valuable skill for an agent to have, particularly in today’s seller’s market.
Strategies for Breaking Stalemates
Millie Rosenbloom, a broker associate with Baird & Warner in Lincoln Park, explains that her negotiation strategies shift based on the nature of the stalemate.
“When dealing strictly with price, I often calculate how much each side came down or up,” Rosenbloom says. “If we are fairly close in price, I ask the buyer and seller to split the difference.”
If the issue is not the price alone, Rosenbloom calls upon different strategies. “The approach really depends on the property,” she says. “It might be time to walk when the price is no longer fair and the property will not appraise out. Or, there may be major deficiencies on the inspection, and compensation is not the answer. Sometimes, it is not the right property.”
Some things are not sorted out easily, such as when a property has sales contingencies or when the timing of a closing is tricky for one party. Buyers can, of course, threaten to walk away from a deal. There are times when that is the right course of action. Then again, the property may require special assessments, a situation that the purchasers are not willing to face.
A Client-Based Stalemate
Sometimes, the issue is not the property or its price, but rather, the client. Rosenbloom recalls representing a couple who was going through a divorce. They refused to speak with each other, and their lawyers could not decide how to handle the proceeds of the sale.
“The attorneys pointed out that it was silly to continue to pay the monthly costs,” Rosenbloom says, noting this required considering the needs and motivations of both parties. “Ultimately, I had to come up with a mechanism to hold the escrow money until a settlement was agreed upon.”
Rosenbloom’s experience underscores the importance of truly understanding what both buyers and sellers want, and the range of outcomes they will accept. If either side is willing to walk away from a deal, a stalemate can be broken; ultimately, that may be a sign that it is time to consider other options.