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May 5, 2015

WTH!?! Your Client Walked Away Over That?!?!

by mark mclean

broken microvaveI’m trying to be polite here. The “WTH” stands for ‘What the heck”. A few weeks ago at our Mastermind session we talked about how an agent lost a deal over a relatively small item. In this case it was a $500 Ikea cabinet. As soon as that story came out others piped in about some of their lost deals too. It was surprising to see what buyers and sellers would walk away from. I put it out to my Facebook friends and got some wild responses.

One person lost a deal over a pool table when the seller was moving out of province anyhow. Another lost over a broken snow blower. Apparently the seller promised it to a nephew and buyer walked without it. Other inconsequential items included a fridge, a $100 microwave, a bookshelf, drapes and a flowering shrub in the garden. Of course it isn’t always about possessions. Sometimes it’s a technicality. I heard from one friend who had a deal fall apart because the age of the home was reported as 14 years old when it was actually 18 years old, while another deal died over a 6 month discrepancy in the age of the furnace. Another fell apart when the seller signed back an offer to close on the same date that was the anniversary of a death of a family member and was taken as a sign that this “wasn’t meant to be”.

Often the argument is just an ego thing where the buyer and seller just don’t like each other and dig their heels in but other times it is the telltale sign of something larger. Our job is diffuse the anger and turn it into a positive. Here is my example; Once I went on a listing presentation on a condo. The exact same unit on the floor directly below sold for $365k. I suggested to the seller that if we listed at $369k we might do a little better (being one floor up). The owner was insistent on listing at $379k so I thought, sure why not. It’s not wildly off base. After a few weeks we got an offer for $375k so being already $10k ahead I pressed my seller to accept. She wouldn’t. Insisted on the full $379k. We couldn’t make the deal work and the seller walked. So clearly my seller lost on a great opportunity….or did she? About a month later the seller listed with someone else at $379k and the condo sold way over in multiple offers. In effect, it turns out the original buyer lost. There is a lesson in here somewhere.

Clearly buying or selling a home is an emotional experience. Both sellers and buyers think they hold all the cards. Getting them together is the real trick. If you hit this critical impasse the first thing to do is isolate it. Is this a buyer getting cold feet or a seller who’s just not ready to let go? Knowing the true motivation will help resolve the issues. Sometimes however, people are just stubborn jerks. Other times you step up and buy them a new microwave. In the end, the buyer and the seller just want to know that someone cares. Finally, I heard from one friend who tells it like it is. His client was his wife. Many years ago she dug her heels in when there was only a $200 difference between her and the seller. The agent husband managed to get the deal together and it has been their matrimonial house for 20 years. He loves to tell the story about how she almost let the deal die over $200. Hilarious.

mark mclean is the Broker/Manager at the Bosley Real Estate Queen St W office and President-Elect for the Toronto Real Estate Board. The opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of TREB or Bosley RE.

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