"Just in case you haven't flown since 1989(!)" the flight attendant cheekily announced over the loud speaker, "we want to remind you that smoking on the aircraft is strictly prohibited . . ."
It was a speech that was met with a nice chuckle from those of us on board. Of course, everyone knows that smoking is no longer allowed on an airplane - don't they? From food, to drink, to luggage, the skies are decidedly less friendly then they used to be.
The same is true for Real Estate. Looking at the ten-page contract and the ENORMOUS stack of disclosures today's typical sale encumbers, my father shakes his head in sheer amazement and exclaims, "When I sold real estate, we used to write the contract on the trunk of my car and the whole thing was only one page." (Those days are long, l-o-n-g gone!)
But the difference isn't just in the size and breadth of the contract and the countless, requisite disclosures that accompany it, it's in the behavior of the parties themselves, and in the way we treat one another as we progress through the deal - challenging or not. "Ladies and gentleman, please fasten your seat belts. It looks like there's some turbulence ahead . . . "
Boy is there ever!
I don't mean to criticize; after several years in a softening marketplace, that's truthfully seen more lows than highs, almost everyone is feeling a bit battered and bruised. (I share your pain - I do!) As a result, the tendency is to be hyper vigilant, super suspicious and uber wary; as if these attitudes were the answers to our problems.
In the heart of the deal - as in life - negative emotions are of little value. If the house doesn't sell quickly (or at all) it's because the Realtor didn't market it correctly, and if the house sells immediately, it's because the Realtor must have under priced it! If the Buyer makes a request, it's incredibly unfair. If the Seller needs some time, they're being unimaginably unreasonable! For some tortured souls, there is no happy ending - no matter what the outcome.
I have to wonder, how does all this angst and negativity really serve the parties involved? The short answer is - it doesn't. I recently watched a deal unravel unnecessarily for no other reason than bad manners (really!). I'll spare you the ugly details, but suffice it to say that the more one side bucked, the more the other side balked - with little real justification on either end.
Not that the "offended parties" didn't manufacture a twisted reason for staying angry at one another ("pretzels anyone?"), it's just that compared to the price being paid for the property, the eleventh hour negotiations, while unfortunate and inconvenient, were nothing more than peanuts. (Which BTW, is about the only thing they serve on planes anymore.)
Move on and let it go . . . we can waste valuable time feeling "insulted."
Regardless of the challenges (and yes, there are many) take a moment, collect your thoughts, ask yourself if it really matters(?) Place yourself in the other party's shoes, cultivate empathy, practice understanding, PAUSE . . . breathe, (are you calm yet?) and then PLAY NICE!
Granted, it requires some discipline on your part, but trust me, your kindness will usually be rewarded. Conversely, poor behavior ALWAYS begets still poorer results. The higher road isn't just the easier way to go, it's the smarter route to take.
"We've reached our maximum altitude, you are free to move around the cabin."With good intentions, the journey is so much more pleasant. It's also incredibly more liberating.
"Thanks for flying with us today, we've landed safely. We hope you enjoyed your journey."
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.