Leave it to my husband and son to maximize their "winning opportunities." Each year when we head to Tahoe, the Backgammon board comes out for marathon sessions of competitive Backgammon. Between Cliff, Tristan and his buddy, Andrew (who has joined our family vacations for years), these boys don't mess around. In between hikes and trips to the lake, the dice are rolling all day long and well into the evening.
Their good-natured ribbing of "I beat you so I'm the world champion," is nonstop as they challenge and play each other over and over again. So competitive are these games, that they have actually instituted a last ditch final roll, that allows the losing opponent to "take" the game from the other by rolling "The Quintessa." Huh?
For those unfamiliar with "The Quintessa," (and that would be everybody) let me enlighten you . . . "The Quintessa" happens when the heretofore "losing" player rolls a four and a two (don't ask, the back story is too long) which automatically trumps the winner. (Did you follow that?) At which point, the now debunked winner can "Reverse Quintessa" their opponent to reclaim the throne by also rolling (you guessed it) a four and a two. In short, it ain't over 'til it's over!
That concept is a bit true of real estate as well. Absent an "All Cash" or a "Contingency Free" offer, once a purchase contract has been presented and accepted (aka: ratified), it ain't over, 'til it's over. Typically, there are still several inspections to be performed, an appraisal to be conducted and a loan that must be guaranteed and underwritten, prior to the close of any escrow. At any point within these contractual time frames, the buyer may come back and ask for a reduction in price, credits towards close of escrow, or repairs (hmmm, that's interesting) OR in a worse case scenario, walk away from the deal altogether. So Sellers - consider yourself warned. In other words, don't open the champagne just yet.
Forget the Sellers' Market of yesteryear, where anxious buyers often lined up to buy a house for tens or several hundred thousand dollars over the asking price AND assumed ALL defects, no questions asked. (Those good ol' days are long, LONG gone.)
Conservative buyers today are prepared to do battle over any "new discovery." ("New Discovery" is information that wasn't provided in the Disclosure Package prior to the offer date or develops later during the inspection period.) Once "new discovery" is uncovered, a savvy buyer is very likely to return and ask for all, or part, of the damages they seek. You as the seller, may agree or disagree with the request and counter back in turn. It's a bit like "The Quintessa" as each side vies for top position (without the finger pointing and screams of sheer joy).
However, instead of a "winner" and a "loser," it's more likely the buyer and seller will compromise on a solution that allows each party to get a bit of what they want and need. With all due respect to gamesmanship, we're seeking a "win-win" outcome here.
While it may feel great to obliterate the opponent in Backgammon (Quintessa!), in Real Estate it isn't especially helpful or productive to a transaction to become entrenched in a position, to set unrealistic expectations, or to lose perspective altogether. In fact, it's been my experience that an overly aggressive attitude can knock a client and their agent out of a deal very quickly and send the buyer or seller onto the next more amenable opportunity.
So let's not count on a last minute roll of the dice instead of a well considered strategy to secure a victory. Should an unwelcome surprise come up, let's seek to find solutions, instead of focusing on the problems. In otherwords, let's play fair and let's have some integrity around any decisions or requests. With this in mind, my goal is to "maximize your winning opportunities," and deliver you the desired result.
(Now you can pop the champagne!)
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.