CONFLICT RESOLUTION FOR REALTORS IN A CHANGING MARKET
The nature of real estate transactions leads to a conflict. Real Estate transactions pit buyers, sellers, agents, and all the supporting cast of players against each other.
Often a substantial amount of money is involved in the sale of real estate. That means both the home buyers and the sellers have a lot at stake. There are many elements to the transaction that cause serious disagreements between the parties involved.
The top three disputes between buyers and seller are easy to outline.
Failure to Disclose
Failure to disclose takes the top spot on the list. Sellers are supposed to disclose to buyers the basic maintenance, dates of the upgrades, and conditions of the house. If the seller is not knowledgeable or tries to hide defects or makes any misleading statements, they are failing to disclose. There may be poor repairs done to the property that will not be highlighted until after the home inspection.
Contract issues come in a close second. The contracts as written and accepted may be too vague or not understood by the buyer or seller. Inaccurate information or incomplete contracts are common.
The other issues that often come up and are out of the control of buyers and sellers they are caused by lenders giving out a prequalification to a buyer that has not been fully vetted which will cause mortgage issues. As of late the big issue has been the appraisal gap with houses selling well over asking prices.
The opportunities for a dispute, disagreement or quarrel are various and common.
This is where de-escalation of disputes is so important to the process. If, as a real estate agent, you can calm down all parties and outline resolutions you can take a volatile situation and bring it to a successful conclusion.
This is a skill that is never taught to new real estate agents. How to take an issue from conflict to resolution with de-escalation methods.
What do you do when a deal is going off the rails?
Here is a typical scenario: the Home Inspection has been completed and it is being shared with all parties and the buyers are asking for items to be repaired, replaced, or credited to them.
- Buyer is angry – they feel deceived by the seller
- Seller is angry – the issues may not have been known to them or they assumed the price of the house they accepted made an allowance for the issue
- Buyer agent is upset – they may not know how to deal with their buyer to help them manage their requests
So, who manages it?? The seller’s agent. If you can de-escalate the issue, you will win the day.
Customers understand it may not be your fault that the issue occurred, but most do not care about that. They want their voices heard. They want to you to understand the pain of the problem and make it go away. While you may not consider that your duty you still must do everything you can to resolve the problem for the transaction to close. The best way to manage it is to stay calm and realize the anger and frustration they are displaying is not about you. Remember not to take it personally – the clients are in an emotional state and may say or behave in a way that is difficult to take but you must stay relaxed. Listen to the entire diatribe without interruption. Don’t make any statements or ask any questions until they have exhausted their train of thought. Focus on the facts of the issue not the feelings being displayed. Do not argue with the client – be as empathetic to the situations as possible. You as the agent cannot become emotional. Moderate your tone of voice keep it neutral and soothing. Do not assign blame to anyone – do not give them someone who later may be invaluable to keeping the deal together. If necessary, set a time to call them back once you can suggest realistic steps toward a resolution. Do not make promises you cannot follow up on. You may need to call the other parties to confirm your steps to resolving the conflict.
The Don’t list
- Don’t blame yourself or your customer
- Don’t take their anger or any other negative comments personally
- Don’t argue or get angry with your client
- Don’t act superior
- Don’t display your irritation
- Don’t act without thinking
The Do List
- Do remain calm and offer a sympathetic ear
- Do listen and be prepared for a lengthy conversation
- Do try and understand your client’s frustration
- Do ask for additional information to resolve the issue more quickly
- Do behave professionally
- Do offer a solution as soon as possible
Disagreements and conflict are sometimes inevitable in buying and selling homes, but a good real estate agent has the skills to deescalate a conflict to keep the deal from blowing up. Good luck!