Real estate is all about relationship building. Not only do we build relationships with clients, but we also must form relationships with our affiliate partners and other real estate professionals. Strong relationships and mutual respect help us get through the tough times of a transaction.
Unfortunately, not all parties involved in a real estate transaction follow the golden rule. In fact, some are downright nasty when faced with an issue that requires concessions on their part. A contentious situation can arise from an inspection report, repair requests or an appraisal, to name a few.
Although most of the people we encounter in our everyday business are easy to work with, it’s essential to know how to handle those few who aren’t. Here are some tips that can help you navigate through a tough situation.
1. Listen, and don’t argue back when confronted
You cannot reason with an unreasonable person. It’s natural to want to defend your stance, but this is not the time nor the place. Let them vent, and wait for a less emotionally charged time to discuss the problem.
2. When at first you don’t succeed — try again
Once the air is less charged, try again to resolve the issue. Now that you’ve heard what the other person has to say, you can discuss the matter with more knowledge.
Persuasive arguments always start with stating the problem then acknowledging the other party’s position before asserting your own. Always have a few solutions in mind in case the other party is more apt to work the issue out now that they have had time to cool down.
3. Always be professional
No matter how low the other person goes, never go with them. It’s essential to remain professional and consistent in your communication no matter how hot-headed the other party gets. Sometimes it’s challenging to keep a cool head, but in the long run, your reputation depends on it.
4. Fully document the issue and communication to avoid misrepresentation
It’s sad to say, but if you’re dealing with a volatile situation and an irrational person, you have to protect yourself. Communicate only via email when possible. Writing allows you the think about what you are saying and serves as proof of communication. Sometimes phone calls and texts are not considered documentation.
5. Talk to a friend or colleague about the situation
Sometimes a neutral third party can offer a fresh perspective. Being too close to a problem disables us from being objective and can prevent us from finding a fair solution. When asking a friend for advice, leave out names. Otherwise, the discussion becomes gossip.
6. Take a walk, or immerse yourself in something you enjoy to take a break from the situation
Stepping away can clear your mind and give you a fresh perspective on the issue. Do something fun and not related to real estate for a while so that you can come back to the problem with a renewed attitude.
7. Don’t go it alone
Depending on the situation, it might be appropriate to bring in your broker or your local association. At a minimum, your broker should be aware of the situation in case someone contacts them about it. Your broker can advise you on how to handle the situation and step in on your behalf if necessary.
8. Know the rules
Most arguments can be resolved with the contract and a closing attorney. Know your local contract inside and out. If the person on the other side is treading in a gray area, ask the advice of your attorney. If they are arguing something black and white in the contract, the attorney can intervene to explain to them why their argument doesn’t hold weight.
9. Be ready to lose a battle to win the war
No matter what, it is our first duty to represent our clients. Sometimes what’s in their best interest calls for us to back down even when we are right. Choose your battles wisely in a troubled transaction. If losing a small battle gets your client to the closing table, you will be serving your client well.
10. Don’t let one bad apple spoil the bunch
Keep in mind, when you are dealing with someone who will not be reasonable, it’s not you, it’s them. Don’t give them the power to make you second guess yourself. You provide an excellent service to your clients. Stand tall, and be proud.