Smart agents avoid potential pitfalls that can derail a deal, including those that arise from actions taken before negotiations. By recognizing and avoiding these seven deal killers, you can ensure a successful transaction and avoid setbacks in reaching the finish line.

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This post was updated Nov. 6, 2023.

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We frequently discuss strategies for closing deals, but it’s essential to recognize the obstacles and barriers that can stop a deal in its tracks. To prevent falling short just before the finish line, it’s crucial to steer clear of these seven deal killers. By doing so, you can guarantee that your next transaction is a winner.


Often, the most important people in a room are the humblest while those who feel the need to carry a big stick are hiding their insecurities. No matter how many deals you’ve done or what your status is in comparison to the rest of the people involved in the transaction, coming from a place of self-importance will not do you any favors. 

Keep this in mind beyond the negotiating table in every area of your professional and even personal life. You never know when that colleague you demeaned will be the very person you need on your side in an upcoming deal. Everything comes back around again, including bad behavior.


Similarly, it’s important to observe professional etiquette and polite behavior when talking with others who are involved in a deal. Even if you think you have a great rapport, that’s no reason to break out the salty language or vulgar humor. You could end up spoiling the relationship with one wrong word.

In addition, rudeness encompasses being late, making excuses, or failing to admit when you’ve made a mistake. Any of these can put a bad taste in the mouth of clients or colleagues, causing them to opt out of dealing with you any further.


Some people pride themselves on their inability to handle the most basic technology or to remember details and logistics. They may think of their incompetence as a charming character quirk or a privilege of rank. However, this type of incompetence just creates more work for everyone else, making them unlikely to seek out opportunities to work with you.

New agents always fear being labeled as incompetent, especially during their first few deals. However, it’s just as likely to be the more experienced agents cutting corners or doing things in a sloppy, off-hand way who create added chaos. If you’re a new agent, double-check yourself, proofread your writing, and, when in doubt, talk to a trusted mentor or your supervising broker.


We’ve all known folks who seem to breeze through life oblivious to the mess they leave in their wake. They may take a laissez-faire approach to their work on a transaction, believing that someone else will dot the I’s and cross the T’s. Even when their errors are brought to their attention, they may try to pass the buck or laugh off the implications of their actions.

Your word is your bond, so when you repeatedly let down clients and colleagues with irresponsible behavior, they’re unlikely to continue giving you the benefit of the doubt. If your irresponsibility is coming from burnout or exhaustion, you may need to take some time off or practice more self-care. If it’s coming from substance abuse or depression, you need to seek the help of a professional.


We all know those folks who live for the drama and want to stir the pot whenever they’re involved. They may take offense at small perceived slights, gossip with others to undermine a colleague or play fast and loose with issues of compliance or disclosure. This kind of shadiness is sure to cost you opportunities and to ensure that your actions come back to bite you where it hurts — in the wallet.

Shady behavior isn’t only disruptive to the transaction. It can create long-term hard feelings that may make it difficult for you to reestablish your professional relationship with a colleague who has been on the receiving end. In addition, if you gain a reputation for dishonest dealings it may make it impossible to defend yourself should you be accused of an actionable offense.


We all live in a time of 24/7 access where even instant gratification takes too long. We’re used to being able to get quick answers via text or messaging app, especially in the middle of a highly competitive transaction. That’s why it’s so disconcerting when someone who’s central to the deal goes radio silent and fails to respond for hours or even days.

While no one expects you to stay in perpetual communication, it’s important to set clear parameters for communication. If you’re going to be traveling for several hours or days, set an autoresponder and let people know whom they can contact in your office. Try to implement reliable office hours so that there’s a window of time when people know they can talk to you if need be.

In addition, create a strict schedule around outgoing client communication so that your buyers and sellers don’t find themselves going weeks without hearing from you on the important financial decisions they’re making.


Everyone deserves appreciation, from the admin who helped you with the scanner to the client whose trust in you pays your commission. It’s not about big gifts or handwritten notes or grand gestures, though those are wonderful and may be called for. It’s about a simple “thank you” delivered with sincerity and in a timely manner.

If you treat others as if they owe you something or as if you expect them to do nice things for you, all without acknowledging or reciprocating their kindness, you may find them less and less inclined to lend a hand. Showing gratitude in your attitude and behavior is a charming quality, and one that’s sure to win friends and influence the people you need on your side. 

Christy Murdock is a freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. Connect with Writing Real Estate on Instagram  and subscribe to the weekly roundup, The Ketchup.

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