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How to

Remove Emotion and Close the Deal

Yesterday, I got a huge compliment from an agent in a transaction I am working on.  She said, “Ginger, I have been in the real estate business for 28 years.  I know good agents.  You are so calm. It is such a pleasure to work with you.”  It was a huge compliment from an agent who is highly regarded and respected herself.

Sometimes I don’t feel calm.  Things come up in a transaction and I just want to pull out my hair.  Scream at somebody!  Take a hammer and beat the other agent over the head.

But I don’t yell, scream or hit people.  Too many agents get their emotions in the middle of their transactions. Our job as real estate agents is to facilitate the transaction to help our clients either buy or sell property.  When we get emotional, we can’t serve their best interests. 

Imagine this scenario:

You are representing a seller and the buyer comes in with a repair request that is ridiculous.  Unreasonable.  Totally out of line.  The seller is NEVER going to agree to their demands.

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Stop right there. 

Those thoughts could kill your transaction.  We can’t get emotional.  We can’t project our own feelings onto our clients.  Our job is to evaluate the situation, ask lots of questions to determine and understand people’s motivations, and develop solutions to the problem.  Understanding the motivations and needs of your own client and the other party are crucial. 

In the case of that unreasonable buyer request, what if I presented it to my client like this:

“Joe, I received the buyer’s repair request.  Sit down, it is not pretty.  It is totally unreasonable.  I can’t believe they are asking for this…”


“Hi Joe.  I just got off the phone with the buyer’s agent.   The prospective buyer has some concerns.  They are concerned about….and here’s why…”

If I presented it in the manner of option one, my client will definitely think it is unreasonable.  I just advised them it was bad, stupid, crazy.  What if it seemed completely reasonable to your client?  Projecting, projecting!  Present the facts.

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Now, I am not saying you should convince your client to agree to that repair request.  Your job is to get the best possible price and terms for your client within their time frame.  Understanding the motivations of everyone involved is the most important step in making that happen.  What may seem completely reasonable to you may seem crazy to your client.  We all know that.  The reverse is true as well.  It is hard to work through problems if you don’t understand why the problem exists.  Some agents can create problems in a transaction by projecting their own feelings on their clients.

So stay calm and don’t project.  Advise, counsel, mediate, negotiate and close the deal.

Written By

Ginger Wilcox is a Broker Associate at Alain Pinel in Marin County, California in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is an accomplished speaker, writer and trainer on the real estate industry, online marketing and social media strategy. Ginger is the publisher of the Marin Real Estate Guide -"Blog by the Bay," a highly regarded Bay Area real estate web site. For more information about Ginger, visit



  1. Jason Sandquist

    October 21, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Question: Were you refering to ‘Joe the Plumber’ by any chance?

  2. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    October 21, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    “Projecting, projecting!”

    Ginger, this line stood out to me and I think it’s the hardest thing to avoid in all business transactions. I know what *I* think is insane but my insane is another person’s normal. Wonderful article, I think this is a really important reminder in a time like this (which can be frustrating for real estate pros).

  3. Lisa Sanderson

    October 21, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    I like the stop sign image. When you feel yourself reacting, stop…and breath. THEN proceed carefully. Great reminder.

  4. Dan Connolly

    October 21, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    I have had some interactions with agents lately that really prove your point. The funny thing is these are the agents who complain the loudest about how bad the business is and how little is selling. Yet when you bring them an offer, albeit low, but it is an offer, they get bitter and downright nasty. It’s really pretty funny. I wonder if they have paid any attention to the news lately. Why not just present the low offer, and see what the seller thinks? Why bring all this negativity into the transaction? What do they think it will accomplish?

  5. Ginger Wilcox

    October 22, 2008 at 5:37 am

    Jason- lol. exactly!

    Lani- I overheard an agent office talking to their client a few days ago. I just wanted to scream out, PROJECTING, PROJECTING. Their negotiations were dead before they started because the agent
    started the conversation off with “we received an offer and it sucks”.

    Lisa- sometimes we need to put the brakes on our own mouths.

    Dan- amen.

  6. Steve Simon

    October 22, 2008 at 6:10 am

    The force required to redirect a blow from the largest, strongest attacker can be initiated by a 130 pound defender, as long as the deflection does not meet the attack head-on…
    Meaning, Grasshopper: when you are the agent in a deal and you have news to communicate flavoring the news with your opinon (especially negatively) sets the two parties in a frontal assault position, not good. Better to deliver all news with a steady tone and an even disposition. Check for reactions, then you can always get mad later:)

  7. Lenn Harley

    October 22, 2008 at 6:29 am

    Indeed. Agents with little experience have trouble with repair lists, contingencies, lender letters, etc.

    The secret to staying calm is understanding the contract. “Follow the Contract” and explain the limits of what is permitted in that contract to your buyer or seller and transactions should go smoothly.

    The last thing I want to hear from an agent is “I think” or “I feel”. I’d rather hear, “the contract says”.

    That is what the parties have agreed to and that is all that counts.

    Lenn Harley

  8. Mack

    October 22, 2008 at 9:35 am

    Now don’t take this the wrong way but “Ginger you must be a Duck”. For you see that is really a compliment. I was once told that I was a duck and I thought they were talking about me waddling around. When it was explained that a duck appears so calm as it glides along in the water while below the surface it is paddling like all hell. When it was explained, I was happy to be a duck and hopefully you are also.

  9. Pam Buda

    October 22, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Thanks Ginger for a really important post! I like your comments about leading with the needs of the other party first to place the request in perspective. Remember to STOP and remove any hint of “the other side is out to get us” tone (a surefire conversation stopper) and be sure to frame it in a problem-solving context–that is our job.

  10. Daniel Rothamel, The Real Estate Zebra

    October 22, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Great topic, and you did a wonderful job covering it.

    Officiating taught me very quickly about checking your attitude and emotion at the door, especially when entering into situations that are inherently emotional. Real estate transactions certainly fit that bill. I have heard way too many stories by Realtors who were either flippant or downright bragging about a negotiation that had broken down, but could have been saved, if attitudes had been changed and emotions held in check.

    Just like no basketball referee wants to be known as the guy who calls a ton of technical fouls, no Realtor wants to be known for having tons of transactions fall apart. Attitude and emotion play a major part in that reputation.

  11. Paula Henry

    October 22, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    Ginger – After a recent short sale which I have dubbed, the never ending transaction, your insight is wisdom I can relate to. Toward the end, I didn’t like anyone in the transaction, except my client; not even myself. I did take time to regroup and come back around to being myself, but the fact is, I should never have given into the emotion. Thanks for a gentle reminder.

  12. Irina Netchaev

    October 23, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Ginger, I couldn’t agree with you more. There are too many agents that put themselves into the transaction and forget that they are not principals. Staying calm and objective can either make or break the deal. And, of course, your reputation. 🙂

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