A few weeks ago, I talked about how to mitigate the most stressful part about being a Realtor, like when you have to rely on an unskilled, inexperienced agent on the other side of a transaction.

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I encourage you to re-read that post. It demonstrates how – by acting proactively and initiating a co-operative and respectful tone with your “opponent” – you can gain much more control over a negotiation than you previously thought.

Continuing with that train of thought, have you ever received an offer loaded with unusual or unnecessary terms and conditions? When this happens, does it throw up multiple red flags?

It sure does for me! It tells me that the other agent is likely to be difficult and unreasonable. My clients instinctively see red flags also, which makes them less willing to negotiate on the price. This is counter-productive from the buyer’s perspective, so why the heck do they do it?

It’s almost always because the agent is either trying to mitigate a past bad experience, or (adopt your snarkiest voice), “they’re simply following their clients’ instructions.”

Yes, I know you’re supposed to follow your client’s lawful instructions! But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t speak up if you think your buyer clients are making a mistake.

What the heck are you talking about, Ted?

I’m talking about anything that draws attention away from the two most essential parts in every purchase contract.

1. The price

2. The closing date

If you’re able to co-operate with the sellers on the closing date, you can immediately concentrate on the No. 1 most important part of every contract – the price. The quicker you get to this, the better. Everything else is a distraction.

There are all kinds of whacky and weird terms that I’ve seen in contracts, usually initiated by the agent “because they had one bad experience back in 1995,” so they’ve been writing this extra term in every offer, ever since.

Okay, I get it that you had a bad experience. But maybe you should reconsider if you’re honestly acting in your clients’ best interest. Adding undue complexity to an offer to minimize a slight risk could cost your clients much more than it’s worth.

Sometimes even the simplest thing can throw people off. For example, let’s say your buyers want to add a term that the sellers will shampoo the carpets before closing. That sounds harmless, right?

It’s a softball example, and the truth is it probably is not a big deal. But you don’t know. The sellers might see it as a supreme pain in the butt; one more thing they need to worry about when they’re already overwhelmed co-ordinating their move.

Or they might even take offence.

“They think our house is dirty? We had everything thoroughly cleaned before we listed, including shampooing the carpets. How insulting!”

Hey, I still get surprised about how emotional my clients sometimes get over the tiniest of details. So is it worth it to take the chance over something so inconsequential? Wouldn’t it be better to concentrate on getting the best possible price, rather than complicating the offer with inconsequential minor details?

Sometimes getting that carpet cleaned could inadvertently cost your client an extra $5,000 and they won’t even know it.

The point is, no matter what minor details your buyer client wants you to add to an offer, I suggest you always counsel them to concentrate on the big picture:

“A simple, uncomplicated offer is always more appealing to the seller. The sooner we get to negotiating the price – with no distractions – the more successful we’re likely to be.”

Don’t kid yourself. Every tiny detail you include in an offer has value to both the buyer and seller, and they rarely see things the same way.


  1. Every market requires a different strategy to ensure that your buyer is successful and indeed happy with their purchase. In this very competitive seller’s market coop brokers are doing a disservice to their buyers if they do not explain that “simple” is better. Case in point, earlier this month as the listing agent of a property, my seller received 14 offers with an array of different clauses, conditions and prices. There was however one offer that stood out as it was filled with a number of what I would call “off the shelf” unnecessary “buyer protection” clauses that clouded the intention of the offer. The price and closing date were close to the best though the clauses included made the Sellers decision easy and they simply chose the highest price without unnecessary clauses. Keep it simple when you have to! “Pay the Balance of the Purchase Price” works best in todays market.

  2. “Now is that so hard? Does it place the seller in some legal jeopardy?”
    Might do??? If the washed carpet shrinks? Discolours? Or the cleaner is irresponsible and spills his bucket. A long list of possibilities. I wouldn’t touch that one with a ten foot pole.
    Why not close a day early as the buyer and take care of it yourself. No sense looking for an opportunity to create an unnecessary issue?
    Everything planned post-closing. Just a thought… too simple and interferes with no one? Ptovides an opportunity to clean the Windows, too, maybe.

    Carolyne L

    Sent from my iPhone

    • That’s a stretch Carolyne especially given the assumption of liabiity.

      I’m not surprised at all that some in here want to provide their buyers with zero protections – price and closing, protect them from nothing.

      And that after so many in this industry make advertising claims like going above and beyond for their clients. I’ve no idea how a buyer’s agent can successfully defend price anything other than price and closing date as protecting their client.

      I keep saying it – it’s why the low public opinion of this profession prevails.

  3. Great article! I actually had more than once this year in our crazy seller’s market, agents putting clauses in offers that really ticked off my sellers. In both cases, the agents reply when I went to strike them was “honestly, my buyers don’t care about this, but I’ve been stung before so now I put it in every offer and let the buyer decide to scratch it.” This article made me think that a lot of the crazy clauses and terms we get are just that, and not coming from the buyer directly. So when I see one from now on, I’m going to ask the buyers’s agent up front whether this is the buyer or them to get a head if any conflict. Thanks for the insight!

  4. Holy smokes! Clearly, the “shampooing the carpet” example was a bad one since it was so easy for PED to blow completely out of proportion. In my defence, I did state quite clearly (I thought) that it was a softball example, and likely NOT to cause any issues. However, perhaps I should have used one of PED’s offers as a better example of how to make an offer needlessly complicated, thereby needlessly adversely affecting the end result for the buyer. For the record, I’ve never once in my career had a buyer client perceive that I didn’t have their best interests at heart, at all times. That’s because I honestly always have. Sometimes – OF COURSE – it is necessary to add additional conditions or terms to protect the client. Despite the snarkiness from both of us, I’m guessing probably me and PED agree with each other more than he or she realizes.

    • Not my fault that was the one you chose, it wouldn;t matter what it is, there is an art to negotiations after all.

      But, yes, so complicated let’s see:

      Seller agrees that the buyer may at the buyer’s expense have the carpets in the property cleaned by a professional carpet cleaner by no later than X day upon receiving written notice byblah blah blah. Seller warrants to allow entry and will the carpeted rooms empty, for this purpose. The buyer agrees to hold the seller harmless for any of the professional carpet cleaner’s actions blah,blah,blah

      That too tough for a seller to handle really?

      Well, since you have never not once had anything but your buyer’s best interests at heart, you should not be teaching that buyer’s agent should be absent the same.

      A buyer’s best interests does not rest with securing the property as the case I provided well shows. For I’m sure that buyer in the case I linked as with every buyer who found they were given zero protections by their agent, probably whopped it up upon hearing they won the bid.

      This is not hard to understand.

      Since your piece can only be taken as opining that anything other than price and closing date offered up by a buyer is over complicating an offer. Such skill to do that is as difficult as listing below market sitting back and accepting an offer that is conditionless for the highest price. Maybe, just maybe this is why so many people paints our entire profession as offering nothing of value.

      And for the record, no, you would be guessing incorrectly.

  5. If I had the choice of representing a buyer or a seller, and had to choose an agent to be on the other side of the transaction…. Based on the article and comments, these would be too very different negotiations. I would not choose PED.
    I have also said for twenty years that Buyers deserve more respect, especially in a Sellers market. When listing properties I explain that to my sellers. Makes for great deals. And possibly higher prices with less stress.
    But I have also worked Buyers market conditions…..

  6. I have no idea who PED is (an actual name would be nice!), but if you were ever a skilled real estate agent with any level of experience, you would understand that the message in this article is about focusing on the big picture and indeed serving your buyer client’s best interests. I even stated that the shampoo example is probably NOT a big deal to the sellers, but you never know. The article is NOT about that one single, simple example. Some people like to look at everything negatively and blow things entirely out of proportion.

    • That’s okay, I don’t know who you are either, even with your name posted as the author.

      I get it, you don’t want buyers to rock the boat with your seller clients – they should pay up, shut up, ask for nothing and if their agents dare do anything else, well they’re just unskilled and inexperienced. In your eyes it’s skill to place an unconditional offer at some outrageous price and ask for nothing but the property be vacated on closing day, right?

      And since that’s what you advocate buyers do with the obvious disdain you show to them and their agents, it’s clear that when your sellers become your buyer clients you likewise require they pay up, shut up and ask for nothing.

      What galls me is that such opinion/advice is regularly given for agents to act on in complete disregard for the fiduciary duties they have to their client – not yours! and the code of ethics pasted everywhere from your local board to provincial & federal associations and more importantly, Ted, The real Eetate laws by which we, you are required to uphold.

      Cowtowing to the other party’s client is found exactly nowhere within any one of those!

      I ask you again, this way, were you to stand in front of a judge and defend your actions against a buyer who is suing you for negligence would your defense be? “your honour, the big picture is, everyting but the price and closing date is a distraction in an offer.”

  7. God forbid a buyer agent should do anything that would date try to protect or even ask for anything for their client because it might hurt the seller’s fragile little feelings.

    Here’s a thought, if a seller has something to hide or a crappy agent who has no idea how to protect them and just wants to close the deal they’ll say to their seller ‘oh that buyer who wants the carpet shampooed is so going to cause you major grief.’ Instead of, maybe the buyer wants to be able to move their furniture in and not have to shampoo around it, so let’s accept and have it added to their closing adjustments.

    Now is that so hard? Does it place the seller in some legal jeopardy?

    And isn’t the buyer the one you’re suggesting to just suck it up the one who will live with whatever problems your seller with soft feelings is trying to slough off?

    Is that how agents really should represent their buyers and would this piece be theirs or your defence in front of a judge when faced with negligence?

    • I don’t Think in over 20 years of commenting here on REM has PED has ever referenced their income as a way of legitimizing why they should be trusted.

      I don’t Think since 2002 PED has ever endorsed Seller Beneficial Negotiation Strategy?

      I believe PED has been consistent now for 20 years that Buyers are almost always treated as 2nd class citizens by organized real estate.

      If I remember correctly PED openly encourages positive debate devoid of narratives that are designed to mislead new registrants down a road that should have been closed in 2002.

      Hey what do I know….

      • Hi Ross:

        You hit the nail right on the head. I know PED personally. PED’s motives are pure and on target. PED is not a stereotypical salesperson. Most consumers don’t like or trust stereotypical salespeople types. I’ll bet PED’s clients like and trust PED, though. It’s results that count, not for a real estate salesperson’s bank account, but for a professional Realtor’s client’s fiduciary interests…defended one client at a time. PED has no time for many so-called professional real estate salespeople. Neither do I. But I do admire and respect the actual professionals out there, as I’m sure PED does as well. There just aren’t enough of them.


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