When negotiating, we must always follow ethics and values, equality and nondiscrimination laws, and guidelines of fairness and courtesy. The subject matter of negotiations within real estate is no exception. Within those mandates, some thoughts to assist you in successful negotiations ...

Basic Negotiation Skills for REALTORS®
by Mooneen Mourad

The objective of successful negotiations must be that all occurrences take place within the context of the law. Secondly, REALTORS® must learn, practice and review fair and productive strategies in assisting all parties with negotiations in the sale or purchase of property. These skills will benefit both the seller and purchaser, the consumer, the public at large and other professionals, as well as provide personal benefits to the REALTOR®. Good negotiation skills should increase the likelihood of a successful completion of the transaction and help to achieve a more successful, professional outcome.

These skills are useful in every part of a REALTOR®'s life and can make business transactions and personal lives easier, more pleasant, more successful and more rewarding. Enjoy using these skills both personally and professionally. Have some fun!

A typical dictionary definition might state, "To negotiate is to confer with another in order to come to terms with, or to reach an agreement." This implies interdependence. The root word, "negotiari," derives from Latin, meaning "to transact business." An adversarial relationship is not implied; rather the meaning is neutral. Negotiation is a skill that can be learned and an art form in application. When we negotiate correctly so that we and others get what we want, we feel successful, in control and powerful. This is particularly true in the profession of real estate when nearly every part of our job involves negotiation on behalf of the consumers and ourselves.

The role of a negotiator is to facilitate agreement between parties. The goal or purpose to successful negotiating is always agreement, which implies a "win-win" outcome. When this is achieved, outcome is successful, people commit to what they've agreed upon, stress is reduced, successful relationships and personal happiness is more likely, and people feel valuable!

Who is the negotiator? All parties! Remember that we all have negotiated all of our lives, and we are negotiating all the time. Almost anything we want is presently owned or controlled by someone else. Although we can only control our own actions and thoughts, we can make some accurate predictions about others. People behave according to their belief system. When we negotiate and present data with a number of techniques, we do so in order to assist people making decisions. We also alter our beliefs and behaviors accordingly. We must be flexible and "appropriately disengaged" when negotiating in order to behave in a way which allows us to create a belief system which may impact others to behave in a desired way.

There are some things about negotiating which can be learned and understood in order to be successful. Consider the following three simple but basic rules to follow when in "win-win" negotiations:

1. Keep in mind the scope of negotiations across the board. Take into account all the elements and piece them together until the entire picture is clear and complete. Do not get stuck on one point, focusing on only a narrow issue. There should never be one winner and one loser. The word "compromise" may infer that each person is "giving something up in order to gain something else." Actually, the idea is for all to achieve those things that they really want.

2. Do not assume that you know what the other person really wants. Get to know the person first, establish a relationship and trust, assess the person rather than the business transaction, and then get down to business.

3. Remember that people are individuals and have different perspectives and beliefs. What motivates you may not be what drives others' beliefs and behaviors. Do not assume that money or a tangible item is the bottom line; other perks can be important and can become valuable trading items.

There are three stages and critical factors in negotiation:

1. Establish criteria for both your side and theirs. Assess the situation.

2. Gather information about the other side. Get lots of pertinent data in the three areas which impact negotiations: power, information and time. You can never know too much.

3. Meet on common ground to elicit a "win-win" situation.
In each of these three steps, understanding and gaining power is important, and we all have some of the eight elements of power. These include:
· Legitimate power by title or position;
· The ability to reward power;
· The punishment power (intimidation and embarrassment, implied or real);
· Reverent and value power;
· Personal or charismatic power;
· Expertise, skills and knowledge power;
· Situational power (may or may not have latitude);
· Information power (sharing and withholding).

You will also need to consider a person's preferred communication and learning style and preferences. Know your own and adapt accordingly. You should pay attention to verbal and non-verbal body language and translate for hidden meaning in conversation.

It is good to remember that your reputation will be remembered long after the terms of the negotiations are complete. That reputation will be either to your credit or detriment when you go into the next relationship, but regardless, it will be important for follow-through.

You, as a professional REALTOR®, have, at the least, four of the basic elements of power: knowledge, information, situational, and charismatic or personal power, even when first meeting a consumer. As you work with an individual, these powers will either be confirmed and increase or disproved and decrease.

When these elements increase, you negotiate for a more formal relationship and become involved in signing paperwork, agreements and contracts. The parties must become convinced that their decisions to accomplish the tasks you ask of them are in their best interest.

Typically, there are four responses to strategic maneuvers in negotiation. We and others respond to these maneuvers and therefore elicit success or failure for the negotiations. They are trust or security, fear, panic and anger. Results will depend on the different persons involved and the way the negotiations are handled. We each have preferred communication styles. Some people prefer "facts," some are "bottom-line" people, some are "relationship driven," and some are "excitement drivers." The adherence to and according adjustments to these learning preferences are necessary to affect a change in one's belief system.

Then, an action or behavior will follow. Remember the three critical factors to every negotiation: power, information and time. When we understand power, consider the information factor, and respect the time element, we are in a position to negotiate most effectively.

Consider the following tactics and counter-tactics of negotiation:
· Keep the initial requests low-risk and manageable.
· Do not allow someone to pass off his or her problem to you.
· Use third party or objective resources.
· Consider the person who has the authority to make a decision.
· Do not "lock in" a promise while in the early stages of negotiations; you may have to change later.
· Remember that the value of something is highest before you receive it.
· When you make a concession, immediately ask for a trade-off in your favor.
· If you have to, be willing to walk away.
· Avoid having all the answers, as appropriate.
· Remember to consider the other person's feelings; have empathy.
· Be creative in your requests.
· Ask yourself if something can be accomplished in a non-traditional way.
· Think "outside of the box," be creative, and allow for brainstorming on both sides.
· Try your best not to "hard-line," or be too rigid, especially early on, and do not ever say things that you may regret later.
· You may initially ask for more than you need, want or hope for, later deciding to "split the difference."
· You must be prepared, create a plan, remain professional, stay neutral and calm and be patient. Remember this is long-term work, and have some fun!

Also, remember the maxim, "Attitude is the paintbrush of the mind; it colors everything we believe."
Although this seems like a lot to think about every time you negotiate, you are already doing all of these things either consciously or unconsciously. The keys are to raise your awareness, heighten your skills, be more directive with these skills and become more comfortable with your competency in negotiation, while following the law, rules and other legal requirements. Always remember ethics, fairness and non-discrimination mandates.

In short, follow these ten tips from noted real estate negotiations author Gerald I. Nierenberg, and you should go far:

1. Know what you want.
2. Understand where the other side is coming from.
3. See the others' viewpoints.
4. Use cooperation, not confrontation.
5. Identify all issues.
6. Choose the right climate.
7. Establish the strategy.
8. Address the others' needs.
9. Be patient.
10. Create a transaction where everybody wins.

Mooneen Mourad is the previous Director of the Realty One University.

E-mail Mooneen for scheduling a workshop, coaching, and
training or to inquire about purchasing her artwork.

E-Mail: mooneen1@yahoo.com

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