Stories From The Street – April 2016

Pressure Reveals Your TRUE Character

Just recently, I was reminded of something that I already knew, but it took EXTREME ends of the spectrum for me to realize just how incredible humans can be and then, the opposite holds true.  This happened within a five-day span…These two individuals could not have been any different in their reactions to pressure situations, with one showing impeccable character and knowing what is “right” and actually doing that “right” thing.

Selling and buying a home is an extremely stressful process.  You are dealing with someone’s most important financial investment.  Not only is a home a HUGE investment, but it is also where you live, where memories are made, and where families are raised.  So, selling a home is STRESSFUL.  I get to deal with people under the MOST STRESSFUL circumstances, so I often get to see how people react under stressful situations.  This is when a person’s true character is revealed.

Pressure reveals character.

Some pressures reveal just how great people are…and some reveal the opposite.

First, let’s talk about the client, who showed impeccable character.

We listed a client’s home last week.  This was about two months in the works.  We met and came up with a game plan to maximize the value of her home and, hopefully, get an outstanding price for her.  We came up with a detailed list that included redoing her kitchen with new granite and appliances, putting knobs on cabinets, and then painting the kitchen area.

Plus, this would include about two weeks’ worth of Scientific Staging to properly present her home.

Then we did a professional cleaning, and Annie did the photos.

Well, we listed on a Thursday and by 12:03 on Friday morning, we had a full price, very clean offer.  This was the result after having four showings on the first day on the market.  We had more scheduled for the weekend, but with a great offer in hand, Debbie and I decided to meet Friday.

Fast forward. Debbie and I are sitting at the office going over the offer, and we have a general question that we call the other agent to ask about.  He answers the question and tells us how excited his client is to possibly buy the house.  His answer is what we wanted to hear, so I whisper to Debbie, “Okay, accept it?”  She says, “Yes.”  So I tell the agent, “Your client has it.  My seller verbally accepts and we are signing now.”

No more than two minutes later, I get a call from another agent.  She wants to make an offer.  I tell her that we have verbally agreed, and she is disappointed.  She tells me her client is very motivated and is ready to make an offer.  I ask her, “What’s the best your client would do?”  She tells me a number that’s $5,000 more than the current offer my seller has.  I tell her thanks and that I’ll call her back.

Debbie and I are talking about this new development.  I tell her that “legally,” we don’t have a contract with the first purchaser.  Contracts must be in writing and signed.  She verbally gave the okay, but until the offer is signed, it’s not a contract.  I tell Debbie that it is up to her what she wants to do.

Talk about STRESSFUL!!! What to do?  How would you handle this???

Debbie and I chat and she says, “I gave my word, but let me call my boyfriend.”

We call Mike, Debbie’s boyfriend, and we all talk it out.  The consensus was that if you gave the first buyer your word, you SHOULD honor it.

I actually got a little emotional…it’s NOT everyday in this business when you see people make morally correct decisions.  Did Debbie have to honor her word, legally?  Nope.  She had every right to go with the other offer.

But she didn’t.  Debbie stood by her word.  Very HONORABLE!!!  I told Debbie that I was honored to have her as a client.  Her decision showed her true character.

People like Debbie make me proud to represent them!!!  I have MANY, MANY, MANY clients who would have made this decision.

Sue Mart and I were just talking about this the other day…how we have great clients who are incredible PEOPLE!

The opposite can also happen when presented with pressure.

I actually had to fire a client.  Yes, I pulled a Donald Trump.  It was very uncomfortable for me.  There have only been a handful of times in 13 years that I’ve had to terminate a business relationship.  I typically do a good enough screening job in the beginning, and I’m a pretty good judge of a person’s character that I don’t typically have to fire someone.  But every once in a while, either I’m wrong or people change when put in stressful situations.

For this next Story, I’m not going to name names…that is not my goal here.  I’m just going to talk about the act.  Because it is the ACT, and ACTion that I will not tolerate, not the person.

Let me set the stage…I’m representing the seller on a property.  We are a team.  It is my job to get my client their desired result.  Sometimes, it’s a quick sale (without doing a bunch of work). Sometimes, it’s the absolute highest profit (We have a process for this).  Other times, the goal is to just not have to bring any money to settlement and break even.  Or, my client might be selling and buying at the same time, and we have to weigh both sides of the transaction to make it as stress-free and seamless as possible.

This is why each client gets an individualized assessment or “Game Plan,” if you will.  No two clients are the same, and each should be treated uniquely.  That is why I have a HUGE distaste for agents who come with a “listing presentation” and a PowerPoint “marketing plan.”  They do the one-size-fits-all business.  My buddy Fletcher calls these types “low-information agents” who couldn’t think their way out of a box.  They haven’t had a unique idea EVER.  They don’t INNOVATE for their clients.  And thus, they get inferior results…

Well, this client wanted the highest dollar…Great!  We are on the same page.  (I’m not going to go into exactly what we did and how I invested in the process with this client.  That is unimportant to today’s lesson).

So, when we first met, I told the client the price at which the house should be listed.  The client didn’t listen…They wanted a higher amount.

This was the first red flag.  I didn’t listen to my gut.  I thought I might be able to pull out a miracle and maybe break another record.  But I knew the chances were slim to none.  When I don’t listen to my gut, the result is not normally good. We went about six weeks on the market and had two showings and no offers.  The problem wasn’t how I presented my client’s house—My strategies work!  It was the PRICE.

So, we finally got to the price point that I originally suggested.  And guess what?  Showings increased, and we went a few weeks on the market and got an offer.  Granted, the offer was low, but it was just a starting point.  Now let me do what I DO BEST—NEGOTIATE!

See, there is an art to negotiating.  I wrote about negotiating in last month’s “Story from the Street.”  Knowing how to negotiate and when to apply pressure and when to pull back is critical.   It is imperative to get maximum return when selling and to get the best “price and terms” when purchasing.

We got an offer and I was negotiating, but the client was telling me how and when and what to say.  This was another RED FLAG!  Let me do what I’m good at.  I’ll do my best negotiating, and then you either accept the offer or you don’t.

But while we were negotiating, we got another showing.  So I followed-up, and the agent said that they weren’t interested.  Her official feedback via email was, “House shows well, but buyer thought it was overpriced.”

I forwarded the feedback to my client, and what happened next was a whirlwind.

When I woke up the next morning, I had a text message from the same agent who showed the house and gave that initial feedback that says:

I heard you got a full price offer today!  Congratulations!  I heard from your client, who called me at 9:30 at night to take exception with my feedback.  Odd and off putting.  Thought you should know your client is calling showing agents to discuss their feedback – quite defensively, or rather offensively.

The offer we would have considered making we will not be making.  Not because we were told there is a full price deal on the table, but because that was a clear indication that (your client) is inflexible.

FIRST of all, sellers should NOT be calling buyer agents.  That is a No-No.  If you hire me to do a JOB, let me do it.

Secondly, we did NOT have a full price offer.  That was a LIE!!!

You don’t LIE!!!  You do NOT win in negotiations by LYING!  That is how you get a crappy reputation and become untrustworthy.  Agents whom I deal with on a daily basis—and my clients—know that when I negotiate, I will ALWAYS fight tooth and nail for my clients, but I won’t LIE!

I can’t be associated with a client who would do this.  It would destroy my reputation that I’ve worked so hard to build over 13 years with my clients and with my fellow agents.  I can’t risk letting that be destroyed by one client.

So, by 11am the next day, I terminated my agreement with this client…AND…we got a great counter offer back on the first offer that my client was going to accept!  I did my JOB!  I got my client what he wanted.  I negotiated and WON…

But, I told my client that I was forfeiting my commissions.  Why?  I had every right to it!  I was procuring cause.  I did my job.  But this meant I had to be associated with this seller, and I wanted to disassociate ASAP!

It was not worth the $xx,xxx commission to me!!!  My reputation is worth FAR, FAR more!

I’m pretty sure that Debbie would have done the same thing.  I’m confident you would have done the same thing.  That is why I say every day how thankful and grateful I am to have you as a client and a friend…And when you refer someone to me, make sure you are referring someone who has high personal standards like you and me.