Before e-mail and texts, there was the telephone

Alexander Graham Bell and his handheld.

A friend who attended the most recent monthly dinner meeting of Lucky Strikers Social Media Club was telling me there about a price negotiation that had her in a fury.

The numbers were something like an asking price of $2.7 million and her buyer’s offer of $2.2 million.  This experienced broker said the market value probably doesn’t support as much as $2.3 million.  But the listing agent contended otherwise, stubbornly.

Teeth gritted, my friend, was punching a text message into her handheld arguing for her position, at which point I, being who I am, felt the need to interject my opinion that an e-mail or text message was no way to conduct a negotiation.

“But I’m afraid I’ll explode on the phone,” said she, whose success and professinalism I greatly respect.  (You easily can imagine how her text was going to read.)

In my view, e-mails and especially text messages are far too impersonal, too easily overstated and too frequently misconstrued for a negotiation.

An angry e-mail begets an angry response.  You can count on it.

However, a measured telephone call allows for a civilized and even jocular exchange, the opportunity to tune in to the other side’s sensitivities, and a chance to coax, wheedle, cajole and charm.  Except when both sides know each other well, may have had a prior conversation and enjoy mutual respect, a flurry of e-mails or text messages won’t get the job done.

The telephone is a better form of communication, second only to face-to-face.  Brokers too angry or inflexibile to try picking up the phone instead of tapping the keys should think twice about their mode of conducting business.

No one should be too upset or arrogant to be willing to use the telephone.  The device has worked pretty well for quite some time, and its virtues will not soon vanish.

My broker friend is hardly insensitive or, as I mentioned above, unsuccessful. Yet she persisted in dealing with the listing broker she loathed via text message.  Here’s her unedited account (in an e-mail to me) of what transpired:

Since I know that the listing agent already has a set # in his head as to what he thinks the value of the home is……I have requested to present my offer to the seller in person. 

I never do that but in this case, I feel it’s a must. 

As you can imagine, the agent was furious at that request and I’m still waiting to hear back. In the meantime, 3 more listings in the same price category have come onto the market with mine being one of them (I have a new 2.5 M that I just listed). In his foolish attempt to gain more commission by telling me what my client should offer, he could potentially lose all his commission (over 50K) can you imagine? Idiot!

When I know someone is going to bring in a low offer I always say to my sellers. Its not where we start…..its where we finish. If at the end of the day everyone is happy then who cares what the initial offer was. If someone takes the time to write up an offer, that means to me that they are serious. Buyers like the art of negotiations in this day in age. Hey, it’s a buyers market right? They want to feel they hit a home run. 

As my late mother might have said, she’s one smart cookie.

What’s your take on the situation?

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
Web site

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