How Real Estate Agents Can Negotiate a Win-Win

By Ann Heinz, JD, CDEI
Jan 13, 2022
How to Plan a Real Estate Business

The art of negotiation is nowhere more relevant than in the real estate industry. Your ability to negotiate as a real estate agent directly affects your ability to earn an income — which means it’s imperative that you know the ins and outs of negotiating.

There is no magic to any of the following negotiation strategies — they’re mostly good common sense and just take a little practice to make them part of your personal approach to negotiation. Negotiation is a constant in real estate, and the goal should always be a win-win for everyone involved.

Characteristics of the Best Real Estate Negotiators

Good negotiators are not “born” — they are “made” through study, observation, and practice. Regardless of personality type, anyone can learn to be a better negotiator. Certainly, no one learns it all the first time. Developing these skills takes time and patience but is well worth the effort.

The following is a partial list of characteristics of a master real estate negotiator:

  • recognizes the right time to close the deal
  • comes up with creative solutions
  • knows what to do and when to reach the best results
  • is self-confident but not arrogant
  • has control over their own emotions and not intimidated by others
  • maintains flexibility for a change of tactics
  • understands the importance of practice, practice, practice
  • stays focused on what the other side says
  • uses open-ended questions to obtain information and clarification
  • retains the ability to see the issue from the other person’s position
  • doesn’t try to win every argument
  • takes time to prepare carefully for negotiation
  • doesn’t make assumptions about the other side
  • works to find benefits for all parties
  • never takes things personally

A large part of every one of the master negotiator skills listed above comes down to good communication.

How Real Estate Agents Can Establish Rapport with Clients

The first few minutes of a negotiating session can set the tone for the entire process. This is the opportunity to establish a rapport with your client. The amount of time spent on establishing rapport will obviously depend on the situation and the parties involved, any prior or continuing relationships, and the prevailing environment.

Building rapport before negotiations is very important. This is especially true in a real estate transaction in which you as an agent must have some modicum of control over the parties in the transaction to bring the transaction to fruition.

How Real Estate Agents Can Listen Effectively

After you ask a question, sometimes a person just needs time to think about their response. They are probably filtering through several thoughts and deciding just how much they care to reveal about their plans. This may be especially true if this is a rapport-building time prior to sitting down at the negotiation table.

How well of a listener are you as a real estate agent? Think about the following questions and whether you do these things frequently, occasionally, or rarely.

  • Do you listen carefully even when the discussion is boring?
  • Do you sit/stand at an appropriate distance from the other person?
  • Do you maintain good eye contact?
  • Do you give the speaker your complete and undivided attention?
  • Do you try to summarize the key points of the conversation?
  • Do you look interested, occasionally smiling or nodding?
  • Do you try to listen between the lines by observing body language?
  • Do you refrain from interrupting? (This should probably be number one!)
  • Do you avoid looking around the room when someone is speaking to you?
  • Do you avoid frequently checking your watch or cell phone?
  • Do you abstain from fidgeting, tapping, or doodling?

If you can answer “frequently” to most of the questions, you are a good listener. If you do some of these things occasionally while listening, your listening skills could use some improvement. If you answered “rarely” to most of these questions, that means you really need to work on developing better listening skills!

Effective listening is an essential tool for all real estate agents. Taking a few simple notes while you are listening helps keep your concentration focused on the speaker, rather than your own thoughts. Sometimes their response may trigger a thought that you want to come back to. When a thought occurs to you, make a quick note to yourself instead of interrupting what your client or the person you’re negotiating with is saying.

Become an Expert Real Estate Agent Negotiator

If you want to learn more about how to become an expert real estate negotiator, WebCE has created the following online course as part of our Real Estate CE catalog: Negotiating for a Win/Win. This course examines negotiation basics including personality types, cultural differences and principled negotiations. From there it moves to negotiating strategies and tactics, always striving to achieve win/win results for your clients and customers.

To order this course and more, visit the WebCE Real Estate CE catalog.