A real estate deal is rife with umpteen deal disaster scenarios, every one worse than the next. But the real question is — how do agents revive a transaction that is on life support and about to flatline?

  • Like a lifeguard with lifesaving techniques, real estate agents employ deal-saving techniques when the transaction is starting to drown.
  • An agent must be resourceful and have an on-call team of problem-solvers to jump into action.
  • Diplomacy and negotiation skills are paramount to moving through challenges when buyers and sellers have crossed their arms and dug in their heels.

Real estate professionals have to work their magic to save plenty of deals. Agents know all too well the twists and turns that this business brings.

The appraisal comes in low; the home inspection has the buyer and seller locking horns over repairs; the walkthrough leads to the discovery of move-out damage; or the rug removal reveals major discoloration over the entire living area, where a buyer expected to see gleaming hardwood floors.

A real estate deal is rife with umpteen deal disaster scenarios, every one worse than the next. But the real question is — how do agents revive a transaction that is on life support and about to flatline?

If only we could wave a magic wand, sprinkle some gold dust and make these problems go away.

As we know, “problems” are really gifts of opportunities wrapped in disguise.

Saving the deal gives us a chance to shine and show what we are really made of.

Here are a few common rescue techniques from agents’ lifesaving kits:

Everyone eats

I’m not talking about a sit-down meal.

While no one likes to reduce the hard-earned brokerage fee, the reality is that sometimes there is no other way to get the transaction to closing.

For example, if a seller is taking a hit on the sales price due to a low appraisal, which results in a renegotiation, both the listing and selling agents may have to agree to receive less commission when all is said and done.

When this happens, both parties are well into the process by several weeks, and starting over (for both buyer or seller) may not be the most practical choice.

Sure, the property can go back on the market, but depending on the seller’s situation and timing, that may not work out so well.

The buyer can walk away or start over with another lender (if they are not doing Federal Housing Administration or VA financing), but that means paying another appraisal fee and possibly taking the risk of running into the same issue again.

Similarly, if money is tight (and it often is) for both buyers and sellers, the brokerage fee may get sacrificed in lieu of costly repairs.

At that point, playing “shoulda, woulda, coulda” is not going to help the situation.

It takes a village

Real estate problem-solving pros have a dream team that’s adept at crisis management. These are your “go-tos” who you can call on 24/7 to help you in a pinch.

Who else can you text at midnight with the crisis du jour, and get a response? This team usually consists of your:

  • Mr. or Ms. ‘Fix It’/Your do-anything contact
  • Home inspector
  • Mortgage lender
  • Title company or closing attorney
  • Plumber
  • Electrician
  • Painter
  • Cleaning crew and more

Your do-anything handy person can swoop in and make it all better in a flash like the savviest Washington, D.C., problem “fixer.”

They’ll take that gouge in the wall, bashed by the movers who swore they would send someone to repair it; the running toilet in a vacant property; and your frantic request, “oh by the way, would you mind hauling off the leftover garbage and unwanted stuff left in the garage”; and tell you “It’s been handled.”

Your trusted home inspector will give you sound and reasonable advice after another inspector comes through with some wild assessment that just doesn’t seem right.

He or she will show up first thing the next morning to evaluate the issue and won’t charge you or your customer.

And having a trusted inspector who will take a fourth trip to a house — to recheck if a repair was made that supposedly was done the first, second or third time the contractor came back — is priceless.

You refer these vendors to so many of your customers or other agent colleagues that they don’t mind when you have to call in a favor because they know you aren’t crying wolf, and you really need their help.

Without this group, it would be much harder to clean up the mess, or to tie loose ends that seem to crop up in every real estate transaction.

What’s the Middle East Peace process got to do with it?

Saving the deal can often require the negotiation and mediation skills of an international affairs diplomat.

No matter what language(s) the buyer and seller speak in everyday life, for purposes of a real estate transaction, they may as well be speaking their own language.

Everyone understandably has their own interests and priorities, but sometimes these interests don’t align, and both sides have very different beliefs about how to go about a transaction.

This is when agents on opposite sides of the aisle have to transition from being adversaries to emissaries and come up with a way through the emotion, drama and stubbornness.

It can take the quashing of egos and grounding people back to center to get to the heart of the issue.

Usually strong emotions are indicative of a larger matter at hand. Perhaps a flare-up is based on a prior real estate experience gone wrong, or there is a personal situation happening behind the scenes.

Whatever the matter, if those challenges can be addressed in some way (even if the problem causing the emotion can’t be solved — i.e., a home sale that sprouted as the result of death or divorce) and trust gained, then hopefully the buyers and sellers may be more amenable to moving forward.

Agents as allies

If the problem is easily solvable, sometimes one or both agents can put their heads together and just take care of it.

If the transaction has been a difficult negotiation at every turn, that “one more request” is often silently addressed in the background, so long as it is not too costly or complicated, or causing further frustration.

You might be dealing with a mirror in the bathroom that disappeared, or the home warranty that the buyer requested but was negotiated out of the transaction because the seller got hit with unanticipated concessions.

In these cases, sometimes agents share in these costs as a “closing gift” to all parties — because at the end of the day, they are still getting paid.

Cara Ameer is a broker associate and Realtor with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Email Cara Ameer

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