Get Your Hand Out of my Pocket! - Handling Commission Beggars
In the course of my real estate career, I have had many people try to reach into my pocket and ask for a piece of my paycheck. I recently wrote a post about this subject: A Lesson Learned in my Real Estate Career
Though it is not always the case, I often feel like the people who ask for my money through rebates, discounts, etc. are trying to bully me. I learned a long time ago that the most effective way to deal with a bully is to confront him. Am I advocating punching a client in the face? No. Well, I guess if the situation called for it...never mind, let's just stick with "no" for now.
One thing I try to establish very early on with clients is the fact that I am the sole income earner in my house, and I am supporting a family of five. Most decent people will avoid asking for any grocery money for my children. That being said, there are those that are so oblivious and self-interested that they can't help themselves, and they have to ask.
A few years back, I was the listing agent for a lot in west Austin that was listed at around $220,000 or so. The seller and the potential buyer were both physicians. The buyer made an offer of $210,000, and the seller came down to $215,000. Then, the buyer asked me to "chip in" $5,000 to make the deal happen.
This is where the conversation turned sour.
And no, I am not embellishing the dialogue below.
BUYER: I am not using an agent for this deal, because I figured you had 6% to work with, and you could just chip in and make this deal happen.
ME: I have to be honest with you. I don't like giving money to people who are wealthier than I am in order to help them buy properties. I may not even be making 6% on this deal - you really don't have any way of knowing what we are charging the seller. Can I ask you a question?
ME: You are a doctor, right?
ME: When you are working with patients, do you ever have anyone ask for a "deal" on your services? If they can't pay the bill, do you immediately discount your fees?
BUYER: No. No, I don't.
ME: Interesting. Me, neither. Tell you what - I will work with the seller to see if we can get an agreement on price. Please don't ask me about my commission any further.
Does this sound harsh to you? Terse? Probably so, but I am protective of my cash flow, and you should be, too!
Incidentally, we did get the deal closed with that buyer, and this was one of the first times that I stood up to the proverbial bully. Since then, I have found that this script (maybe slightly toned down) works with almost any line of work (e.g. Mr. Buyer, you are a plumber, right? Do you charge less to unclog toilets when people ask for a break?).
(Here's one to use when a seller wants a big commission break on the front end): Mr. Seller, you sell ceiling fans, correct? How many free fans do you give away each month?
(For use when your listing sells very quickly):Mr. Potential Client, has your boss ever taken a chunk of money from your paycheck because you did such a good job and he is happy with your performance?
You get the point. Often, all you have to do is allow the other guy to walk a mile in your shoes. Or maybe you're wearing his shoes with this script. Either way, it works for me.
Don't let them bully you. If you are a real estate professional, act like one. Other professionals don't cave in and give away money to buy your business. I am not saying that you should never alter your fees, but know your boundaries. There is a reason that we are called "independent" contractors.
Thanks for reading! Please feel free to share what works for you in this situation.
Austin Real Estate Copyright Jason Crouch 2007 All rights reserved