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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.

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.

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.

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  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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Disputing a property’s value in a short sale: turn a no into a go

During a short sale, there may be various obstacles, with misaligned property values ranking near the top, but it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker!



magic eight ball

magic eight ball

It’s about getting your way

Were you on the debate team in high school? Were you really effective at convincing your parent or guardian to let you do things that you shouldn’t have been doing? How are your objection-handling skills? Can you flip a no into a go?

When working on short sales, there is one aspect of the process that may require those excellent negotiation or debate skills: disputing the property value. In a short sale, the short sale lender sends an appraiser or broker to the property and this individual conducts a Broker Price Opinion or an appraisal, using special forms provided by the short sale lender.

After this individual completes the Broker Price Opinion or the appraisal, he or she will return it to the short sale lender. Shortly thereafter, the short sale lender will be ready to talk about the purchase price. Will the lender accept the offer on the table or is the lender looking for more? If the lender is seeking an offer for a lot more than the one on the table, mentally prepare for the fact that you will need to conduct a value dispute.

Value Dispute Process

While each of the different short sale lenders (including Fannie Mae) has their own policies and procedures for value dispute, all these procedures have some things in common. Follow the steps below in order to conduct an effective value dispute.

  1. Inquire about forms. Ask your short sale lender if there are specific forms that you need to complete in order to conduct a value dispute. Obtain those forms if necessary.
  2. Gather information. Your goal is to convince the lender to accept the buyer’s offer, so you need to demonstrate that your offer is in line with the value of the property. Collect data that proves this point, such as reports from the MLS, Trulia, Zillow, or your local title company.
  3. Take photos. If there are parts of the property that are substandard and possibly were not revealed to the lender by the individual conducting the BPO, take photos of those items. Perhaps the kitchen has no flooring, or there is a 40-year old roof. Take photos to demonstrate these defects.
  4. Obtain bids. For any defects on the property, obtain a minimum of two bids from licensed contractors. For example, obtain two bids from roofers or structural engineers if necessary
  5. Write a report. Think back to high school English class if necessary. Write a short essay that references your information, photos, and bids, and explains how these items support your buyer’s value. This is not something that you whip up in five minutes. Spend time preparing a compelling appeal.

It is entirely possible that some lenders will not be particularly open-minded when it comes to valuation dispute. However, more times than not, an effective value dispute leads to short sale approval.

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Short sale standoffs: how to avoid getting hit

The short sale process can feel a lot like a wild west standoff, but there are ways to come out victorious, so let’s talk about those methods:



short sales standoff

short sales standoff

What is a short sale standoff?

If you are a short sale listing agent, a short sale processor, or a short sale negotiator then you probably already know about the short sale standoff. That’s when you are processing a short sale with more than one lien holder and neither will agree to the terms offered by the other. Or… better yet, each one will not move any further in the short sale process until they see the short sale approval letter from the other lien holder.

Scenario #1 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they will proceed with the short sale, and they will offer Bank 2 a certain amount to release their lien. You call Bank 2 and tell them the good news. Unfortunately, the folks at Bank 2 want more money. If Bank 1 and Bank 2 do not agree, then you are in a standoff.

Scenario #2 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they cannot generate your approval letter until you present them with the approval letter from Bank 2. Bank 2 employees tell you the exact same thing. Clearly, in this situation, you are in a standoff.

How to Avoid the Standoff

If you are in the middle of a standoff, then you are likely very frustrated. You’ve gotten pretty far in the short sale process and you are likely receiving lots of pressure from all of the parties to the transaction. And, the lenders are not helping much by creating the standoff.

Here are some ideas for how to get out of the situation:

  • Go back to the first lien holder and ask them if they are willing to give the second lien holder more money.
  • Go to the second lien holder and tell them that the first lien holder has insisted on a maximum amount and see if they will budge.
  • If no one will budge, find out why. Is this a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan? If so, they have a maximum that they allow the second. And, if you alert the second of that information, they may become more compliant.
  • Worst case: someone will have to pay the difference. Depending on the laws in your state, it could be the buyer, the seller, or the agents (yuck). No matter what, make sure that this contribution is disclosed to all parties and appears on the short sale settlement statement at closing.
  • In Scenario #2, someone’s got to give in. Try explaining to both sides where you are and see if one will agree to generate their approval letter. If not, follow the tips provided in this Agent Genius article and take your complaint to the streets.

One thing about short sales is that the problems that arise can be difficult to resolve merely because of the number of parties involved—and all from remote locations. Imagine how much easier this would be if all parties sat at the same table and broke bread? If we all sat at the same table, then we wouldn’t need armor in order to avoid the flying bullets from the short sale standoff.

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Short sale approval letters don’t arrive in the blink of an eye

Short sale approval letters may look like they’ve been obtained simply by experts, but it takes time and doesn’t just happen with luck.



short sales

short sale approval

Short sale approval: getting prepared, making it happen

People always ask me how it is that I obtain short sale approval letters with such ease. The truth is, that while I have more short sale processing and negotiating experience than most agents and brokers, I don’t just blink my eyes like Jeannie and make those short sale approval letters appear. I often sweat it, just like everyone else.

Despite the fact that I do not have magical powers, I do have something else on my side—education. One of the most important things than can lead to short sale success for any and all agents is education.

Experience dictates that agents that learn about the short sale process
have increased short sale closings.

Short sale education opportunities abound

There are many ways to become educated about the short sale process and make getting short sale approval letters look easy to obtain. These include:

  • Classes at your local board of Realtors®
  • Free short sale webinars and workshops
  • The short sale or foreclosure specialist designations

As the distressed property arena grows and changes, it is important to always stay abreast of policy changes that may impact how you do your job and how you process any short sale that lands on your plate.

The most important thing to do is to read, read, read. Follow short sale specialists and those who blog about short sales on AGBeat, Google+, facebook, and twitter. Set up a Google Alert for the term ‘short sale’ and you will receive Google’s top short sale picks daily in your email inbox. Visit mortgagor websites to read up on their specific policies and procedures.

Don’t take on too much

And, when you get a call from a prospective short sale seller, make sure that you don’t bit off more than you can chew. Agents in most of America right now are clamoring for listings since we are in the midst of a listing shortage. But, if you are going to take on a short sale, be sure that it is a deal that you can close. And, if you have your doubts, why not partner up with a local agent that can mentor your and assist you in getting the job done? After all, half a commission check is better than none!

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