I left off last time with the reading and explanation of the terms and clauses of an offer. Now, in this third of the series on offer negotiation, let’s get into the strategy behind the technique that worked so well for me during my career.

You’re still gathered around the table. You could ask the buyer’s agent to leave the room so you can have some privacy with your client. Sadly, this has been my experience when representing a buyer client. However, permitting them to remain a little longer will provide the opportunity to question them.

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Before counselling your seller, it’s prudent to know, for example, if the buyer is pre-approved for the mortgage, if the closing date is set in stone, if the deposit can be increased or even if the buyer is prepared to negotiate. Ask if this is their client’s final offer; their verbal and/or non-verbal response can reveal much. They may prevaricate or say it’s a starting point. In either case, this typically means the buyer is open to a counter.

If the offer is conditional upon the sale of the buyer’s home, it’s critical to know the terms of that listing or if it’s even listed. If so, how long has it been actively available? Is it priced correctly? If not, their offer may not be worth the paper upon which it’s written. So, determine viability of any conditions.

Having the buyer agent present also gives you the chance to get some personal background on the buyer. Get a feel for them through “small talk” with their representative. How long have they been searching for a home? Do they have children? How suitable is the home? How excited are they? It’s critical, though, to avoid this being perceived as an interrogation. To avoid alarming them, casually sprinkle the questions throughout the meeting. With such information, you’re better equipped to sense the degree of buyer motivation.

Many agents talk too much. And they may not consciously realize that you’re not engaging in purely social drivel. If properly asked, subtle probing questions can provide answers that could prove pertinent to the negotiations and help you better advise your seller. Finally, so you can consult confidentially with your clients, ask the buyer’s agent to leave the room and retain at least one copy of the offer.

If you’re representing a buyer, I caution you to be selective about the information you share; don’t gab too much. Keep your cards close. You don’t want the listing agent to know, for example, that your clients are really excited. Delicately convey a subtle message that they’re interested in buying the property. But unless your buyer finds the terms acceptable, they’re prepared to continue their search. They may even have another home already in mind. It’s all about position. Whoever appears the most anxious will lose the high ground and end up capitulating to the demands of the apparently less so.

After the buyer agent has left the room, begin your private consultation by briefly summarizing the offer. It’s important for the seller to understand and address the less significant terms before tackling what is usually the most contentious issue, the price. As you progress quickly through the clauses, once again beginning with the least important, ask your sellers if each is clear and acceptable. If an objection arises, make a note of it and say you’ll return to it later. Objections aren’t always genuine, but simply veiled attempts to slow things down. They may need time to think before making a decision. And their ostensible objections may vanish into thin air. Then ask for their feelings.

In the fourth installment, of this series, I’ll continue to address this most critical of real estate services, and the one that most directly leads to commission generation.


  1. There’s no reply button after your comment, Ross, so I reply as a separate entry.

    Marvellous! Now there’s a cool word. Nice to hear. I hope you can buy one as a gift, since you said you don’t cook. Everybody wants to eat – lol.

    I posted to Brian’s REM comment at another article, where he explained his upcoming book plans, and about how time-consuming getting the Kindle operational was. I liken it to surgery with no anesthesia. Once you start it there’s no one to inquire of…

    Before anyone gets too involved with publishing ebooks, know that unless you get good instruction, be careful who you sign on with. I follow directions better than many people, but I don’t like playing guessing games with presumptions about what I know or don’t. I know more than many septuagenarians, and I follow directions really well, good directions – but I confess there’s plenty I don’t know. Need a good guide-dog.

    Personally I am really looking forward to working with the giant NYC publishing house that is also in London UK, UAE, and Australia. They must feel confident in sales on bookstore shelves, as part of their contract is that I had to agree to be available to travel for book signings. Who would have guessed?

    They do all the marketing and distribution. They intend to put my hardbound and soft bound cookbooks on bookstore shelves at places like Barnes and Nobel in the States. And internationally, being here at home base as well.

    For now I have the Kindle eBook “Gourmet Cooking – At Home with Carolyne” (It’s mostly so simple anyone can do it.)

    It all started in the mid-1970’s. That’s 50 ! years ago!!! When my weekly newspaper columns appeared, the board of edu contacted me and said a new school was opening and would I agree to teach adult evening classes.

    I did but it was extremely difficult loading up the car, unloading equipment and loading up again for the return trip only ten minutes from home, and then finding out the electricity mostly didn’t work, and other obstacle variables; and the new school was late getting up and running. So I asked if I could teach from home, and they agreed.

    “Gourmet” was a quite new concept way back then. So I ended up with sometimes as many as 26 adult students in my home twice a week. A wonderful learning experience; and I had a listed telephone landline, so I would sometimes field calls when students had “kitchen-questions” regarding printed recipes they took home.

    I hope people will buy the Kindle. It’s only $5.99 US.

    Thanks for REM continued support…


    • Life is a grand adventure, isn’t it? That’s great about your NYC publisher. Obviously, they wouldn’t agree to publish it if they believed it would not succeed. Well done!

  2. What I meant by ” behind the times” is that many years ago before buyer agency was introduced both the listing agent and the co-operating agent worked for the interest of Seller ( known as the vendor back then) only. As per the listing contract. So questions such are they willing to pay more ? Or is this thier final offer ? Are they willing to pay more? Were valid questions.

    • That’s true, David. Such questions were indeed valid then. And they’re still valid now. You’d be surprised how many buyer agents unwisely delivered an answer to me when asked such questions. Sometimes, I was able to deduce an answer to my strategically phrased question. And on other occasions, they answered non-verbally. As I’ve said, it was not my responsibility to protect the interests of someone else’s client.

      • Ross, Nelson has been known to comment on my take re buyer agency. I certainly didn’t invent it. And no one was more shocked than I was when buyer agency, although alluded to in the late 80’s that things were changing and about to be a forced change (largely due to the Sarbanes Oxley situation), once I realized buyer agency was here to stay, I jumped on board with both feet.

        Even so the bulk of my business was working with sellers, they were my quasi-automatic buyers. But under a different “representation” contract. And my sellers needed instruction. No matter how mentally loyal, they just might find themselves visiting another company open-house. And that listing agent might just think they were orphan-buyers with no representation. With no buyer agency contract in place, in reality, they would be just that, by definition.

        Once I had that part of doing business the new way digested in my brain, it just became part of my appendage to representing my sellers. I quickly learned that a separate buyer agency contract needed to be in writing immediately, so as to eliminate any misunderstandings.

        Mr. Seller, you are no nuisance. Not ever. Call ME, when you see a new for sale sign (it might not yet be in the MLS system) or if you see an interesting ad. Call ME if you have any questions, not the listing agent. Honest; it’s no trouble, you are not “bothering me.” If you visit an open house let it be known up front that you are “represented.” Use my name freely. Please, absolutely feel free to do so.

        One funny story: when another agent was told I was the looker’s representing agent, the person was told: “no point in my talking to you. Carolyne has no competition. No sense my wasting time talking to you.” That was a huge compliment. My “buyer-client” relayed the comment to me.

        But, Ross, your point about asking questions of the buyer agent, sitting opposite at a table, who is in fact representing the buyer, if in fact really so (and he understands what exactly that means), should politely state that fact and explain to you and your seller “why” he cannot respond to your questions (to help your seller make a decision).

        But I know whereof you speak. Because often the agent for the buyer truly does not understand his contractual fiduciary duty exclusively to “his” own client. His brain is still working in sub-agency, implied. And he avoids being put in that sometimes uncomfortable position by simply emailing or faxing his client’s offer to you or your office, leaving you to present his offer to your seller. Even if subconsciously, it’s an avoidance technique, so the buyer-agent doesn’t find himself in what could be an awkward moment.

        I ask: is that agent really “representing” his client? He, in fact should be at the table noting and reading “your” body language and how “you are relating to your” seller client. I go back to my earlier comment about relocation buyers and sellers.

        Firstly the buyer rep should be permitted to state his case face to face on behalf of his buyer, and submit to being asked to leave temporarily providing you and your clients private time to digest what he had said.

        Why are some agents intent on making such a simple process, unnecessarily difficult? Staying absolutely calm, cool, and collected is the real key in a face to face presentation. And remember: agents have no contractual right to “an opinion.”

        I was fortunate that the articles I wrote and placed on my website, travelled the country and even stateside where often the real estate business is conducted quite differently. Boards and agents and even some real estate law offices re-posted my articles or made links to them, that I initially penned to help educate visitors to my own website, one of the first in the industry in 1997-1998. My site grew to be more than 175 pages introducing the public to what they should know to expect when doing business as a buyer or seller. And I always tried to make clear that “real estate is local.”

        I still get requests from people wanting me to represent them. Sadly I must decline and cannot even refer them. (I thank them profusely, and simply advise that I am still on medical leave.)

        Carolyne L ?

        • I understand and agree with your points, Carolyne, particularly about the responsibilities of a buyer rep. However, in my experience, many of the agents whose paths I crossed clearly seemed to lack the skill, knowledge or desire to properly and effectively represent their clients. Thus, I simply and fairly took advantage of such opportunities to negotiate a better deal for my seller. And when representing a buyer, I did the same in reverse.

          • I am not necessarily pro union; but before they practically outlived their usefulness, it’s a small wonder they didn’t try to unionize REALTORS.

            Actually I do seem to recall an attempt having been made maybe thirty years ago. Even the bad guys in business have/had a union steward to stand ground for them. Someone to speak to the given industry on behalf of the worker-bees.

            I’m all for protecting the public, but there’s no one to protect agents to have a right to earn a living. The corporation you are affiliated with as involved can’t, won’t, don’t; the given Board doesn’t (it’s not part of their mandate); the provincial ass’n’s won’t, don’t, can’t; and protection of the REALTOR is not the mandate of the nat’l ass’n. There’s no governor on overall rules across the nation as a whole. One nation under — (distress)… Of course real estate is local, but then what is the purpose for paying the freight so to speak, maintains a national association, aside from producing television ads. For which agents pay real dollars for the privilege.

            In some cases it’s like tossing a child into the water without a life jacket and telling it to swim. Chances are he will, but some would drown. Many new and old agents are in fact drowning.

            I worked for 39 years, from day one in a large suburban city that has more than doubled in size. During the 80’s there were ordinary 3400 s.f. residential dwellings with as many as twelve people living in an ordinarily subdivision house, overloading the infrastructure and paying regular property tax. No rules that say how many people can live in a single family dwelling. I viewed single family dwellings on office tours that had literally dozens of basement cubicles on top of one another with a dirty mattress and a blanket. Likewise an upper floor, where the footprint had a huge games room over the built in garage where as agents we had to step over mattresses on the 20′ x 20′ floor, arranged for children to sleep.

            There were many things to be considered such as overloaded transit systems that had to accommodate the fast growth patterns, and waste mgmt, that weren’t fully prepared for such.

            On the topic of double-ending, as many REM readers have heard me speak, year after year typically 60% of my transactions were double-ends.
            I never had a complaint in all the years. And I was a full five years into the industry before I was told I was double-ending far too often. WHAT??? Isn’t that what the homeowner hired me to do? (To sell his house…) That I had become dangerous doing so, putting the corporation in danger. Clearly I had misunderstood what I had been hired to do, I was told.

            The public did NOT hire me to “sell” their house. They hired me to “promote” their house to colleagues “at other companies.” Odd thing was that no one had taught the so-called dangers of double-ending (the branches were happy to have the numbers on an accounting Income Statement) in the 1980’s, and only a brief conversation in the taught classroom law courses, that even talked about it. Simply put most agents didn’t, in fact, sell their own listings. But not because they were schooled not to. The listing agent just “hoped” some MLS colleague would have a match-up buyer. Why didn’t enter the equation.

            I was such an anomaly that apparently head office in year five, told the branch that although I had never had a complaint, I needed to be told my way of thinking that I had been hired by the owners to “sell” their property didn’t really mean that in real life.

            Lots of “definitions” would have to change, rules rewritten. Thus, we have what we have today. But along the way someone forgot to tell (warn) the public that who they hired to represent them, meant that the agent was forbidden to “sell” said property, that the agents were being hired to “market” the property, NOT TO SELL IT. To (network) find another agent at another corp to bring a buyer.

            Not just any other agent; not an agent within their own branch or at any other branch within the corporate flag the listing agent was related to in any way. Not in fact to “sell” it. Verboten in many domiciles. Not forbidden here at the time, just frowned upon.

            My problem was that I seriously undertook to “sell”my clients’ properties. 60% of the time, year after year, I actually did. And no one had ever complained. Everyone got treated right, well and good, and fully transparent contracts were consummated in a timely manner.

            Oh what a tangled web we weave…

            The public expects/demands a sale from the listing agent. The homeowner actually believes it. And gets upset when the engaged contracted agent doesn’t show the house to prospective buyers, because it’s less fuss and bother to encourage a would be buyer for his listing, to write an offer on another company’s listing. That’s how the industry wants real estate transacted.

            That’s what the government wants done. Go figure. The root: agency. And we are meant to explain that transparency to the homeowner, and still have him “hire” us. He MUST be told WHY he is hiring us. Not to “sell” his property, only hiring us to “market” his property with the hope that another friendly agent from another company will provide a buyer.

            What is the definition of the highest and best use “of an agent?” In fact: how good a marketer he his among his colleagues at “other” companies.

            There’s a special breed of cat (agent) out there who needs a designation saying that he is a double-ender and understands how it is done in a proficient, efficient manner where everybody wins, respectfully. It CAN be done, and I’m historically living proof.

            Let the contract do the talking is the secret to mission accomplished. Total transparency all round. No complaints. Don’t tell me anything you don’t want to reveal to the other side. Job well done for and by all involved. Plenty of written compliments helped bring in more of those kinds of sellers who specified they were “hiring me to ‘sell’ their property.” Because of my reputation in the field for so-doing. WOW! I had got it all wrong all those years.

            Truly the public has been mislead (intentionally). Thinking when they “hire” a real estate agent, that they are hiring that agent to “sell” their house. Not knowing the sign on the lawn is for the express purpose of being a quasi billboard for finding a buyer for some other house. With the reverse intent that a lawn sign on another company’s agent’s listing would be a reciprocal method of bringing a buyer for the listing agent’s property.

            I ask: do agents actually explain this in their listing presentations? I learned to do so, and explained that in our domicile double-ending was permissible under special circumstances the seller would need to agree to at the time of listing and reinforced once again at offer time.

            Carolyne L ?

          • From RECO site:
            “Signing a BRA confirms in writing that you are a client of the brokerage and documents the terms and obligations of the brokerage-client relationship. As a client, the brokerage has a special responsibility to follow your instructions, protect your confidential information and promote and protect your best interests”.

            Based on the present attitude of agents re: buyer agency there is absolutely no advantage for a buyer to sign a BA agreement. Subagency is still going strong. How many Exclusive Buyer Agency offices are there in Canada? Maybe one or two. What percentage of transactions are DUAL AGENCY? Until agents are really concerned about protecting the rights of buyers, subagency will prevail.

  3. http://www.carolyne.com/sellerinfo.html


    Granted, I wrote these articles ages ago, and some folks might think it is better just to email offers, perhaps dozens at a time. Throw enough of it at the wall, some of it sticks theory.

    I half expect that the no eye-contact method of presenting offers came about as a result of relocation offers, representing either buyers or sellers and we had to use fax machines, courier services, or send by carrier pigeon bird. Long before FaceTime conversations, and Skype, and email systems.

    Many times I participated in relocation offers when people both sides were “out of town.” It is less than an ideal situation and you had better have all your ducks lined up in a row, with the goal being to get right the first time.

    It could get quite curious when both sides of the transaction were out of travel reach, like when I was representing a lawyer-buyer client (under buyer contract) who had a death in the family overseas in the midst of negotiations, and had to travel to India in the midst of an offer presentation. And the sellers were away on holiday. WOW! We put it all together and I was on the phone at 3 am Toronto time for several days in a row.

    It’s really true. Where there’s a will there’s a way, to find a meeting of the minds. I once registered an offer on a MLS listing and was told it couldn’t be presented due to owners were in Montreal due to a funeral. I inquired if the agent had been given authority to reject offers on behalf of the family. No she had not. In spite of the sad situation, I asked that the listing agent advise the owner for instruction specifically how to proceed in this case. She refused initially and I explained I didn’t think she had the right even in fiduciary duty to make that decision on behalf of her seller. She did notify her seller and was instructed to fax the offer.

    Offer accepted with no changes and seller was very grateful and actually communicated personally with me when they returned home to thank me.

    I always instructed my buyers to make their best offer the first time if they were truly serious. I was so blessed to have buyers who took doing business seriously. Our business is not a Monopoly game.

    But in my opinion there’s nothing more satisfaction-wise for all parties than to be sitting at a table. We are entrusted with mega million dollars of public trust monies and earn a handsome fee for performing fiduciary duty. Part of the secret of success is never to rush anybody. It doesn’t matter how busy you are, you simply must treat every client, buyer or seller, as though they are the only client you have.

    There should be no “opponents.” This is not a chess game. But it often is a game of wits. The first one to speak loses.

    This can be the easiest and most fulfilling and lucrative (but sometimes most frustrating) business in the world. Stay calm. And don’t talk too much, except to say what is absolutely necessary. And, yes, watch body-language carefully. It speaks volumes. React appropriately. And always remember any buyer or seller contract doesn’t give the agent(s) a right to “an opinion.” Never!

    Just the facts, ma’am. Just the facts. And you must be able to quantify and qualify the facts. If all is above board, the paperwork should do the talking (so to speak). Subject to being “explained.” That’s very different than adding personal opinions or comments.

    Carolyne L ?

      • David Davidson

        Thank you for your reply to my post. Much appreciated.

        There is no reply button at your current post, so I post here:

        You are absolutely correct. Doesn’t matter, old school agents or new. Buyer agency was introduced here more than twenty-five years ago.

        Many don’t believe in it, others believe in it but don’t understand it or agency in general. Some even blindly purport to practice it. And that includes many brokers, and owners.

        A successful office requires listings. Or at least that is the common belief. Perhaps you can speak to how a buyers-only brokerage office would function.

        Buyer brokerage offices don’t exist seemingly because it’s one of those conundrums for which there seems no (operational) method of making it work.

        My goal was to sell my clients’ properties when they listed with me. I truly believed that is what I had been hired to do, and if asked I think, largely, the public as a seller still believes that. And I set about to accomplish that representation / agency.

        There are rules stacked upon rules. But there’s no denying we live in a different world mindset. But it is vital that the client, whether a buyer or a seller client, be made aware and enlightened.

        Agents often make no effort to educate their clients, seeing that as not being within their job description; many of whom have no idea what we do behind the scenes, and many clients haven’t bought or sold properties in recent (sometimes many) years.

        Regardless of being forbidden to use the term “specialist,” I believe it IS part of our job to educate both buyers and sellers. It’s not sufficient to put a form in front of them and spend only two minutes explaining it.

        The clients might be well-educated in their own field of expertise, but chances are they know “nothing” about the innards of our business. Just sayin’…

        Carolyne L ?

        • In the mid 90’s I was the first agent to introduce buyer agency to Winnipeg. It was a nightmare. Lots of opposition. The real estate board even prevented me from advertising my buyer agency services in their newspaper. I believe the same opposition to buyer agency was also happening in Toronto and Edmonton. The real estate industry will do almost anything to protect their turf. Eventually the boards across Canada had to sit down and make up some new rules to accept buyer agency. However, the rules they created were to protect the industry at the expense of the consumers. Most understand that DUAL AGENCY is bad for the sellers and buyers and yet nothing is being done to stop it.

          The real estate office you worked for seemed to believe that their only job was to list a property and hopefully an agent from another company would have a buyer and sell it. Consumers believe that when you list a property with broker X it is the BROKERS job to sell it for the best possible price. If consumers really understood that there is only about a 12% chance that the BROKER you list with will sell your property they would be shocked. Why pay thousands of dollars to just put the house on the MLS and wait for another BROKER to sell it. This is why it is possible to have companies that can bring on 1000’s of agents. Simply list a property and then head off to your other job and wait from the offers to come in.

          So is the MLS system working in the best interests of consumers or does it work in the best interests of the brokers and sales associates? In my opinion Exclusive Buyer Agency will probably not work the way it should because of the downward pressure it would have on the commissions. Are there so many rules and procedures across the industry that will prevent Exclusive Buyer’s Brokerages to become successful? So I guess DUAL AGENCY is not going away anytime soon.

          • David

            EXACTLY! But I believed within my heart that I was doing what I had been hired to do.

            Sorry… I don’t believe the words representation and commission are interchangeable. I have spoken to this topic repeatedly in my consumer education articles. And here on REM.

            We are paid what we are worth. My fees were 6,7, and 8 points. And the sellers were told what the fees were spent on. Perhaps google my name with REM and you might come across old posts about this apparent anomaly. Sometimes part of it was spent in addition to the area “typical” co-op (no such thing) other times in upscale promo of various means.

            Likewise I had my buyer clients sign to top up whatever commission was offered on MLS to meet my fees. I only had one awkward situation following the 1995 adopting of buyer agency (and topping up fees). And I wrote about it recently at REM and included his wonderful appreciation letter that’s at my “Carolyne’s Clients Speak” link on my website, wherein he wrote that I had actually saved him money and put thousands of instant equity dollars in his pocket. Equally important (forgive the caps): I FOUND HIM A HOUSE WHEN SEVERAL OTHERS HAD NOT BEEN ABLE TO! And not just any house. A tall order to fill and I did it!

            All that benefit cost him about $2500. top up fee if I recall correctly. And after maybe a year or even two with agents all over town trying to find him the perfect house, I did the job. And listed his current house, too. I had cut him loose. As in; no I will not work with or for you. Bye, bye. He came back. Prequalified,,, proof in writing, which his banker had told him he didn’t need to give a real estate agent. Who is this agent who will not work without a contract and wants proof you can afford a house. Tell her to do her job and go find you a house and THEN we will put in writing that you can get a mortgage.

            Talk about pushing a loaded wheelbarrow uphill in icy rain condition.

            Speaking of bankers and lawyers, in reference to your comment about what you weren’t allowed to say, do. or advertise…. And what no one in your area knew — no one here told bankers and lawyers about buyer agency. Most still don’t understand it, and have no interest in it. And brokerage accounting systems are not designed to handle buyer brokerage.

            And as I have also said previously, although brokers consider signed listing contracts, assets on their balance sheets, they don’t feel the same applies to buyer contracts.

            Why would that be? It’s equally as valuable as a listing contract???

            So of course you are right. Implied or otherwise, sub-agency is alive and well. Even if practiced behind the veil.

            Carolyne L ?

      • I bought your book as personally requested, and helped promote it with your requested review, as a colleague to colleague courtesy.

        I need full disclosure: I believe we have never done a real estate transaction together and we moved in entirely different personal, social, and business circles, never as personal friends. I respect your expertise.

        You clearly know all the genius things needed to function in the real estate business, Ross. And I wish you well in selling your expertise in your 400 pages. But there are many newbies who don’t have your skills, and sometimes they read the expanded thoughts in my comments and then tell me offline that they learn a little more, in addition :) all for free; sometimes at REM there’s no ideal place to comment. It wasn’t my intention to interfere with your dissertation.

        I would just like to add that all my consumer (and agent) education articles are free. Always have been. I have never charged for them. People are welcome to read them and share them to help others. I have been told over the years that my articles sometimes had been the topic of office meetings.

        Just my way of paying it forward after 39 wonderfully successful years in the industry.

        I won’t bother to respond adding anything further to your informations. ;) it wasn’t my intent to be offensive.

        During my recovery I’ll try to stick to my “cooking” expertise, writing new recipes, and “Recipes for (busy) REALTORS,” and leave the important real estate things to others, or post at other location.

        Even REM readers who don’t cook write nice things to me off line, telling me they enjoy my “discussion” (often lengthy) writing style, and feel like I am in their kitchens with them. Or at an offer table with them.

        No different than when I was conducting real estate transactions. Always trying to make the other side feel comfortable. Agents knew I would do everything in my power to help them (ultimately help me help my clients).

        Men are often known to be succinct. (But not in your 400 plus pages – lol.) Women often function in storybook form. They speak to who the decision maker is, in whatever form gets the message across. It’s important to help people relax during what can be a very serious situation. I was good at doing that I have been told.

        Beneath the veil, there are still those who think woman’s place is in the kitchen. LOL

        Carolyne L ?

        • Thanks for your comments, Carolyne. Please take no offense to my remarks, for you have been and continue to be a credit to the industry. Yes, I’ve been told I can be verbose in my prose, but I do try to be succinct. It’s just that I have much to say.

          And though my wife is the culinary expert of our family, I for one am a feminist. I respectfully encourage you to continue to comment at will.

      • This post disappeared. It was on the REM screen, positioned following my prior post, just above Ross’ comment about 10 words or less… I had forgotten to include the third consumer education link with the other two.

        Because it’s an important help perhaps to our readers, editor Jim has suggested to repost my (missing) comment:

        • It’s OFFER TIME – Now What?
        (what you need to check when an offer comes in)



  4. The representation points made in the comments are valid. And things mentioned in this article should never be discussed at the table during negotiations. The author is obviously a bit behind the times. However, in my opinion, it never is a bad idea to negotiate in person. More so if you are trying to represent your buyer to get the best possible price, terms and conditions. If, as a buyer agent, you just email the offer and let the listing agent and seller make all the decisions for your client, you have to ask yourself. What am I really doing for my buyer client other then a turnstile to pass on papers.

    • Thanks, David, for your comments. I agree that certain confidential subjects should not openly be discussed at the negotiation table. However, as listing agent, any subject that could help my sellers make a fully-informed decision is fair game for me to address. On the other side of the table, if the buyer’s representative unthinkingly answers my direct questions or subtle probing, verbally or non-verbally, thereby disclosing confidential information, well, that’s their problem. That’s why I encourage seller agents to invite, or even insist, that buyer reps attend the offer presentation. It’s the responsibility of the buyer rep to be aware of what the listing rep is attempting to do, and to respond accordingly in the best interests of their client. But in my experience, many just were not able to avoid providing me with information, with the language of words or their bodies.

      I may indeed be “behind the times”, David, as my life and business philosophies regrettably don’t seem to fit in today’s pressure-cooker, greed-filled marketplace, at least in the eyes of some of our ilk. However, I have no doubt that there are countless sales reps who happen to share some of those philosophies. And they still earn an attractive income.

      • Good question, Gord. I appreciate you asking it. I assumed that what David was illuding to was my preference for personal contact over digital communication. I’ve always believed that our business is a belly-to-belly one. However, many “modern” agents, for various reasons, prefer to simply email documents for consideration and execution, even if their trusting client is virtually around the corner. Hopefully, he’ll respond to your question with more clarity. Too bad we can’t meet personally instead of exchanging digits to discuss the issue further. :-)

  5. Here Mr. Wilson reveals so many of the problems the current real estate trading legislation creates.

    A Buyer Brokerage when asked “is this the starting point of your clients offering price or the best they are prepared to go” dilemma.

    1) Break the Code of Ethics and use your negotiating skills to mislead and misrepresent the real intentions of your clients because that could get them a lower price.

    2) Break your fiduciary duty to your Buyer Client and openly discuss how much higher they will go.

    3) Get full informed consent from your Buyer Client on what you will share and not share about the Offer.

    4) Sit their stone faced staring at the wall and not blinking in order to not compromise the negotiating ability
    your client has.

    The complexity of the Offer and the Negotiation phase of a transaction is beyond the expected competency of anyone who does not sell at least 4 homes a month and has worked at least 500 transactions. In the Seller Representation World of pre-2000 simple sales reps only had to worry about not lying and getting the buyers to pay the highest price possible for any home (that included when your Mom was buying a home listed with another brokerage altogether.)

    Today’s rules and regs naturally create a legal conflict of interest that is really impossible to navigate if even discussing the offer with the opposing agent and that really is where all legislation needs to change.

    Co-Operating Brokerage in a Buyer Representation world do not exist. They are Opponent Brokerages who have a 100% case law requirement to ONLY represent the Buyer unless the Buyer has given written informed consent to do otherwise.

    That said when the average commission payable to a buyer brokerage is $15,000 should the Buyer assume receiving anything less than full Representation?

    While you can argue with the premise of this response I encourage you to call a local real estate lawyer and ask them the consequence of the Buyer finding out you told the Listing Brokerage or even implied that the Buyer would pay more. Then call up your provincial regulator and ask them what fine or penalty would you be exposed to if you mislead a Seller contracted with an Opponent Brokerage.

    One simple court case ends all this nonsense in the same way it ended Brokerages theft of IC earnings, Deposit funds being misused by Brokerages and even non-compliance of FINTRAC reporting. One simple court case always sends the Brokerage Business into FEAR mode and a quick resolution to activities that were previously being commonly followed outside what courts deem to be acceptable.

    • Thanks, Nelson, for your comments. However, I’m not sure I completely agree with you. Legislation nor case law will never eliminate all the legal challenges of our industry, nor will our Code of Ethics and Standards of Business Practice. Why? Because humans are fallible. They make mistakes, innocently and fraudulently. Problems exist in our industry (and the world in general) when someone places their own interests ahead of those of their client. Sadly, it seems to be human nature. Though there are countless examples to the contrary, I believe that this is a fundamental problem with the concept of agency.

      I wrote this column and my book, The Happy Agent, in a well-intentioned attempt to help agents perform smarter, to help them serve their clients more efficiently, and to encourage agents to behave ethically. Throughout my 4+ decade career, I naturally followed my own creed, which happened to align with our REBBA and Code of Ethics. And I still had a hugely successful business practice. I ALWAYS put my clients first. Did I earn a million dollars annually? Nope. It wasn’t a priority for me. But I earned ENOUGH. I slept a restful sleep every night. And former clients typically returned to me for service and referred to me because they trusted me. It’s that simple.

      I feel that many agents live in fear of not having enough. Thus, they behave in a manner unbecoming of a professional agent. Thanks again for your contribution.

      • Hi Ross:

        I strongly recommend your book to every current or wannabe Realtor. I have read only about half of The Happy Agent, and it is chock full of excellent advice backed up by hard empirical personal experience.

        I agree that most Realtors live in a perpetual state of fear of not having enough. Any commissioned sales person possess this inherent mindset as a foundational personality trait that goes with the territory of working for one’s self without a guaranteed salary. It is from this foundation of insecurity that greed blooms.

        I was fortunate enough to enter the vocation, twice, without the need to produce a large, or even moderate income, in short order. It was therefore much easier for me to not break any rules or any moral codes in order to cobble a deal—or deals–together in order to pay bills…or buy that Beamer. Brokers like to hire hungry wannabes. It is from that crowd that crooks are spawned. Most who enter the business are hungry, therefore…

        Re the negotiation conundrum: There can be no actual negotiation without the parties to the negotiation sitting face-to-face with one another. Any deviation from this obvious reality reflects pure laziness on the parts of the so-called at-arm’s-length “unprofessional” Realtors. The other reason for vacancies at the negotiation table is lack of confidence in one’s ability to negotiate on par with the other side. Both foregoing reasons for failure in-the-saddle suggest that people who possess these types of amateur-hour personalities and backgrounds do not belong in the business, which amounts to the majority on any given day.

        Being able to fog up a mirror on interview day only allows for far too many wannabes to enter the what-should-be-a-profession-but-isn’t business on the never-ending conveyor belt to the ever-burning failed-Realtor dumpster-fire of dashed unrealistic fantasies. Being a good Realtor is an ongoing hard job, ergo more than 80% would not regularly flame out.

        A wannabe should be able to display a willingness to negotiate one’s terms of employment with potential brokers at the outset—face-to-face— at the very least. I had to do that when being interviewed for the position of “conciliator” with a government agency way back in the 1980’s. They offered me the job and wanted me to start immediately. I refused due to my wanting to complete my then current year at university. I got up to leave after thanking them for the job offer. They quickly asked me to reconsider. I said no thanks. They asked me how much time I needed to complete my year. That was when I knew that I had the job on my terms, as did the interviewers. Mine was the kind of personality that they wanted to put out there to be able to deal with the real-life problems that I would have to deal with once in the saddle. No such success that I went on to enjoy in the field with that agency would have evolved had I simply talked to them on the phone or via fax or email. There would have been no body language available for reading one another’s non-verbal signals.

        Negotiate in person; it’s a no-brainer.

        • As usual, Brian, your comments are honest and sensible. It appears that you and I are indeed cut from similar cloth. Thanks for your ongoing support for my book, The Happy Agent. By the way, it recently reached #1 Best Seller on Amazon!

          My dream is that someone at RECO, OREA or CREA will champion it for recommended reading by industry applicants and existing registrants alike. Thanks again.

          • I will soon send letters to RECO, CREA and OREA recommending that they all incorporate your book into their lexicon of required reading material for registered wannabes and for current Realtors in-the-field. I will explain why I believe compulsory reading of your book can only enhance the professionalism of the industry’s practitioners at large.

            Note: I am currently finishing up writing a Science Fiction Fantasy novel entitled:
            “Riley Youngblood and the Passport to Santalamanchia” (Title and all contents therein copyright protected) as a first-time wannabe-published author. I may have to tap your knowledge re how to strategically approach publishers seeing as how I have no experience in that arena.

            Keep the faith re your book. Sometimes it takes time for quality to be recognized in a world of quantity first, quality second.

          • Thanks again, Brian, for your kind support. I’ll check out your book, or even volunteer as a beta-reader for you. If I can help you in any way with your book project, feel free to contact me.

          • When I was nearly 50 years old with ten years’ industry experience behind me I opened my own company. In year ten I took my brokerage courses.

            It was 1990 and we were in the heat of a recession here in Toronto. I had been working for several years for a wonderful company. But the branch where I was located had become miserable due to poor management and intense jealousy as I was the corporate top producer. It got so ugly that I mostly worked from home. Transaction files were actually stolen from my desk, never to be seen again. Fortunately I kept private duplicate files.

            I wasn’t exactly sure I was equipped to start my own brokerage company, and I had no one to openly discuss it with. I hadn’t seriously intended ever to leave the giant corp I was affiliated with.

            Suddenly I found my feet (nerve) and I was in a physical training room class at 8 am every day for months on end, the better part of a year, completing one course after another, back to back. There was a written exam at the end of each course. I had a 40-minute drive each way to the training classes.

            Sitting in one spot at a school desk for hours on end was uncomfortable but still prefer classroom setting.

            By 5 pm each day I was back in my office, meeting with clients everyday nearly, or at their homes. I continued working as usual just under a different day timer routine schedule, often getting home at nearly midnight many times. My clients were very cooperative.

            There was very little time to study. I used my travel time to rehearse what I had learned each day. I would lie on my bed at night and before going to sleep, I would use these recall methods.

            We were required to literally memorize math formula and statistics, and material we would need in the future. Except I had no intention of working in commercial real estate. But still felt if was an excellent course choice (one of two from which I could choose – the other being “rural properties”).

            And an absolute final choice to write the government exams. And since this was my last course, an elective, I had chosen the commercial course. Great choice positioning as it covered again much of what had been in all the prior courses.

            These courses all taught nothing about running a business; only industry-related information in an expanded version of what I had learned ten years earlier in the salesman courses. Much of which I had never used or even encountered in daily work. I think at the time the course material was generated by govt. and operated through OREA.

            Having always been a voracious reader, forever, years earlier I had encountered this information that is currently in the Ted Talk material. It’s really true and really works. I had bought books on the topic years earlier.

            Apparently these learning methods have been taught in China as an example, for centuries. That’s why many of their students excel.

            I passed all my exams and made my highest mark in the upper 90’s percentile, on the most intense and difficult last course: commercial.

            I can’t recommend these procedures highly enough. You might want to listen to the podcasts.

            It helped that I had always had a photographic memory, but didn’t know it or recognize it as such, when growing up. Only put a name to it when I put two and two together as an editor.

            Carolyne L ?

            As received:
            “Memory is a skill you can learn — and a powerful strategy every workplace can harness. Listen toWorkLife with Adam Grant on your favorite podcast platform.”



        • Ross’ book review as rejected at Amazon: (I wrote)

          The writer, [Ross] who while working in the industry kept a solitary profile, yet according to his story within a story he managed to put pen to paper in thirty some chapters of life-moving moments. It’s difficult to talk about the book without talking about the author.

          Ross is a man of many facets, a quiet soft spoken demeanour who recalls as he writes in his “The Happy Agent” book about amazing childhood memories staring at the sky, and smelling the flowers, trying to figure out the world from a young age, intent on being a writer, to his trip through a midlife crisis that he ultimately worked to his advantage employing the structures of the Law of Attraction, and writing of practical methods he employed in his real estate career helping himself on the road to helping others. A mix of industry-based textbook authentication and bio material, Ross addresses the knowledge that must be known not just in order to succeed but must be imbedded in the workaday world in the real estate field.

          His book is absolutely not just about the industry that he spent four decades in, but he has interwoven stories within, combined with an abundance of quotations supporting his personal in-depth findings, filled with information that if read by members of the public thinking of pursuing such a career, might take heed of long before investing the thousands of dollars on the presumption of making overnight millions, and how it is thought so easily done, by so many, backed up by chapter and verse relating the innards of what is required to make the business work (or not).

          His words of wisdom might be totally unimaginable to many as he interweaves bits of his personal successful freedom-finding mission.

          Mission accomplished: he says he now leads a life of pleasure and solitude having shared his readings and findings and interpretations with his readers; a softly glowing light peering through life’s sometimes darkness, he unravels the Laws of Attraction in a unique fashion that readers at various levels can employ in their own life construction or reconstruction.

          Ross has a keen understanding of what makes the world go ’round inside and outside real estate. The industry still might find a spot to employee his values in his so-called retirement years.

          Having read his book, those who are inside the industry and those outside, all might benefit from digesting and fielding his personal methods of survival of the fittest.

          Lady Carolyne Lederer-Ralston
          A nearly four decade (1980) Canadian REALTOR® … Author, food writer beginning in the mid 1970s, and Gourmet Cooking original recipe developer, and REM newspaper columnist (for a decade) – https://www.remonline.com/category/columnists/recipes/

          Cookbook now available on Amazon Kindle:
          ©”Gourmet Cooking ~ At Home with Carolyne.”

          And coming soon under contract with NYC publishing house:
          © “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks”
          Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience

          • Thanks again, Carolyne, for your support. I might add that your review of The Happy Agent was not “rejected” by Amazon for any other reason than their policy of accepting only reviews by their higher volume purchasers. I thought I’d just clarify that the fault does not lie with you or my book. :-)

  6. You have packed a lot of info about the offer presentation in these few paragraphs. Congrats – the most important being your emphasis upon the importance/value to both sides of presenting offers “in person”. In GTA we’ve lost the understanding and appreciation of this aspect of the negotiation process – too many years of multi-offers on 3 day old listings. Salt this article away and re-read it when you have 4 listings (that aren’t being shown too often) and an offer comes in on one of them after it’s been for sale for 53 days …. a suggestion from another era.

    • Thanks, Uncle Bob, for your comments. It seems that we agree on fundamentals. And better than salting this column away for another time when the market returns to more balanced or buyer-favourable conditions, may I suggest keeping a copy of my book, The Happy Agent, on your bookshelf? Thanks again.


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