Negotiating Skills for Real Estate Professionals

Negotiating skills are crucial to dealing with every-day situations, both at work and at home. When I first became active in creative real estate, I realized my negotiating skill set was very weak and needed immediate improvement. As any seasoned, real estate professional will tell you, honing your negotiation skills is like giving yourself an immediate raise. And learning to listen effectively is one of the most important skills you can master.

Clearly the skills involved in negotiation and effective listening are close cousins. Both are vital for a successful career. Henry Kissinger, one of the United States most respected negotiators, commented that listening is the key to success at the bargaining table.

In negotiations, we often concentrate on positions rather than interests. The result is an outcome that does not extract the greatest possible value out of the process. Moreover, you may inadvertently damage an important relationship. Effective negotiation dramatically affects the perceived value of the goods or services we are buying or selling. When you’re selling, it raises the perceived value of your product or service. When buying, it can lower the perceived value. Whether buying or selling, the style of negotiation is of prime importance.

Every negotiation involves an element of conflict: Two sides must face-off before any negotiation can begin. When a high degree of concern is expressed for the substance of the negotiation and a low degree of concern is expressed for the relationship of the parties, a defeatist behaviour pattern is produced. This is characterized by pressure, intimidation, adversarial relationships and an attempt to get as much as possible as soon as possible.

Avoiding defeatist attitudes at the negotiating table is simply a matter of a little planning. Find something in the deal that is not important to you but is important for your counterpart. When things are getting sticky and about to spiral out of control, concede the unimportant element to your counterpart. Often times, this is enough to clinch the deal in your favor. It will, at least, allow you to proceed in a more constructive manner.

And while your planning, ensure you have an exit strategy. If everything goes against you, you will be saved by this little bit of contingency planning.

Improving your communication skills means not just becoming a better listener, but learning to listen to what is not being said. It is said that 90% of communication is non-verbal. If you’ve nothing to say, stay silent. Learn to emphasize or reinforce what you are saying through your body language and demeanor. Carefully watch your conterpart’s body language to gauge what they are really thinking.

As always, practice makes perfect so set some time aside with your colleagues to work through some negotiating games and training. Your negotiating skills will improve quickly if you practice when you’re not under the gun.

Last but not least, the better your negotiating skill set, the easier and more enjoyable your relationships will be. You will find that it’s easier to agree and, more importantly, to disagree with each other. Ultimately, you’ll be far better prepared to negotiate the curves that life throws your way.