Often our collaborative approach to real estate negotiations is met with a hardline, competitive response. Let’s say you want to bring an offer on a property that has been listed for a couple of weeks. You reach out to the agent hoping to establish some rapport and learn a little bit about the seller’s needs. Your calls go unanswered and his response to your email is simply, “submit all questions by email”. One effective technique is to “build them a golden bridge”; to reframe their retreat from a hardline position as movement toward a better solution. You might build this bridge in this situation by using their method – submitting questions by email and in that same email, mention the reason you want the information is so you can satisfy some of the sellers needs and then offer some information that could be valuable to them about your side’s needs.
Another way to build a golden bridge is by asking for your counterparts’ ideas and then adding to them rather than trying to sell them on your ideas. This strategy helps them gain ownership and save face – an important factor in many real estate negotiations.
A third way to build a golden bridge is to offer the other party a choice between two or more options. This strategy gives the other side room to criticize some of your ideas while still coming to an agreement.
A wise old negotiation teacher I came across in a real estate office meeting this week offered up this tried and true quote, “ Negotiation is the art of letting other people have your way”.