Imagine you are going on a listing appointment. You really need to land this listing. You’ve been in a slump and money is tight. In fact, your line of credit is maxed and mortgage payments are piling up. If you can just get a listing , you’ll get it sold and you’ll pick up some buyers and you’ll be back in the game.

How’s your BATNA?

BATNA (Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement) is a key power source in any negotiation.

In effect, it’s your walk away power. If you can’t walk away, you don’t have much power.

In our MCNE class in Vancouver this week we were having a spirited discussion about negotiating with a prospective seller to get a listing. In the above situation, the agent’s BATNA is very weak. Will they get the listing? More often than not, no. Even if they do a good presentation, using some negotiation skills, the seller will sense the desperation and the power imbalance, and likely choose a different agent.

Marc LaCouvee, an agent with Royal Lepage on Vancouver Island and a member of our graduating MCNE class, coined the phrase BATNA Breath and no one wants BATNA Breath. It refers to a nuanced sense of desperation you are putting out. We can try to disguise it but it’s tricky.

BATNA Breath

Think about what happens when you are talking to a prospective seller and you are willing to walk away.

If they are unreasonable about price or commission or service expectations and you thank them for their time and get up to leave – what happens? Usually they call you back and if they don’t you likely didn’t want to work with them anyway.


Good BATNA earns you good clients and allows you to build a great business.

To keep you BATNA strong, build your business consistently, be strategic in designing your marketing and prospecting plan and spend less than you make.