One of a real estate agent’s primary roles is to negotiate a deal for their client so both parties, buyer and seller, walk away feeling good about the transaction. I’ve read books on negotiation and recently took classes to be certified as a RENE, (Real Estate Negotiation Expert). After several years in this career, the books and the classes, I thought I had seen it all – or at least most of it - when it came to negotiating techniques. But nothing prepared me for the unique and heartwarming mediation style of my clients, Jenni and Alfred.
Jenni and Alfred are a young couple with a new baby. Jenni was pregnant with their first child when we met and she was interested in buying a home for her growing family. First I helped them navigate the process of qualifying for a loan so we knew how much of a budget they had. Then I put them on an MLS auto search so they could see new listings that met their specific criteria in neighborhoods they were interested in. Finally the day came when they were ready to go out and shop for a home.
We saw a few resale houses in their price range and visited several production builders in the area as well. Within a week, Alfred and Jenni decided to purchase a brand new home that had not yet begun construction.
The sales agent brought us to an empty section to see the lots where they were about to start a new phase. Jenni liked the lot in the middle of the street while Alfred preferred the one a few doors down. After a brief discussion on the merits of each parcel, they faced each other with arms outstretched and a serious expression on their faces. In unison they said: “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” That was all it took. Jenni won and her lot became their lot.
Inside the showroom, Alfred and Jenni had other choices to make – carpet color, exterior brick, paint, tile and fixtures. I held the baby as they negotiated each option the same way: “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” Done. A few times they went two out of three but Jenni emerged victorious nearly every time. I’m not exactly sure how that worked out but trust me, it was probably for the best!
Since that day I often wonder how many of our world and personal problems could be solved with a simple round of Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Of course, this technique won’t work every time - after all, some decisions are more complex than others. But it could be an effective way of negotiating more often than you might think. Hey, if a coin toss can determine who goes first in football, maybe Alfred and Jenni are on to something. We might be better off letting the trio of Ro, Sham and Bo handle the negotiating for us.
In a few short weeks Jenni and Alfred will close on their new home. The baby will celebrate her first birthday and the house will welcome its excited new occupants. Life will change as life usually does. But I will never forgot – or cease to be inspired by – the way this very sweet couple got through every impasse with Rock, Paper, Scissors. What a wonderful world it would be if we all employed this negotiation technique a bit more often.
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