Negotiating & Etiquette

The Power of Mutual Respect: Why “Not A Problem” Is The Perfect Response to Many Problems

Robin Kencel|May 3, 2019

There is one common feature of almost all real estate transactions: the number of twists, turns, issues and problems that can pop up throughout the process. As a seller, you determine your response – and your attitude in conveying your response – to the various issues that arise.  Ones that pop up during the final walkthrough, sometimes just hours before closing, can present a real headache and challenge even the calmest individual. While much may be outside of your control, how you respond is completely determined by you.

I represented a seller of a lovely property in a private association that had extensive boxwood gardens and a cocktail pool with waterfall. Strategically placed throughout these outdoor spaces were three very large urns. When my client had purchased the house, the urns were in place. She planted them up and never thought about them again.  For her, they were part of the whole property. Unfortunately, the buyers were looking at them differently.

The urns were on raised cement bases and while the bases were poured and set into the ground, the urns, of course, were not. Hence, they were not considered “fixtures” by real estate definition, and the buyers wanted them removed. If they could not be removed within the 20 hours that existed between the walk through and closing, they wanted $10,000 escrowed until the issue was resolved. 

This final wrinkle could have become overwhelming for some sellers. Emotions, whether justified or not, could have flared. Instead, the seller and I moved into action mode. Within a few hours, we had a plan of attack that included an astute gardening/property management firm which had accomplished some work for the seller from time to time and understood the urgency of the situation and moved around the next day’s agenda to meet the closing deadline with a property that was urn-free.

How did we manage to achieve what seemed like it would be impossible to do in such a short time?

1. Stayed calm and moved from emotion to problem-solving,
2. Recognized that the  best bet we had was going to resources that we used before,
3. Kept in constant communication with our attorney and the buyer’s agent, alleviating the feeling that they would need to move to the escrow solution

Keeping an attitude of “Not A Problem” sets a tone that can keep the other side from going down the problem path.


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