Monday, July 5, 2010


I have been privileged to know a lot of smart people in my life, and I have been blessed with the collective wisdom of a lot of very successful real estate professionals during my 16 years as a broker.

One of the most important lessons I learned early on in my real estate career was the difference between "winning" and "being right".

In simple terms, winning is solving a problem.  Being right is being right.

What I have found is that solving problems pays extremely well, and being right often pays little or nothing.

So what does this conversation have to do in the context of real estate transactions?  A lot, especially now, especially since deals are harder to put and hold together than they have ever been before.

Every deal is going to have some drama, somewhere along the line.  It's a given.  Whether it's inspection drama, appraisal drama, financing drama, buyer drama or seller drama, there's no such thing as a clean deal anymore.

And in every situation that calls for communication, negotiation or interpretation, we have a choice to make.  Is our choice to solve the problem (winning), or is our choice to skillfully assign blame on whoever we perceive the offending party to be (being right)?

Sadly, I have seen many transactions where people have blown up perfectly salvagable deals because ego overrides purpose.

Our purpose, as I define it here, is to protect the interests of our clients, negotiate on their behalf, and leave them in better shape than when we found them.  We should know enough about our clients to know what their interests are, and if we don't, we haven't done enough frontwork to adaquately represent them.

The truth is there are "difficult" people in the world.  Sometimes they dress up as buyers.  Sometimes they are dressed as sellers.  Sometimes they are agents.  Our job is to navigate around personalities and focus on solutions, which exist to almost every problem. 

Sometimes those solutions are painful.  Sometimes they just take different thinking.  But if you are focused on "who's right" instead of "what is the best outcome I can devise for my client", you're missing something. 

We're not paid to be right.  And our clients don't hire us to win ego wars.  We're paid to advise, consult, negotiate and close.  We're paid to defend and protect our clients.  We're paid to solve problems. 

Every day, you will find someone standing in the road, blocking traffic, in the name of "being right".  If you can skillfully learn to drive around that person, you will never be at a loss for business.