How good negotiators deal with liars: Home buying in the Melbourne property market

How good negotiators deal with liars: Home buying in the Melbourne property market
How good negotiators deal with liars: Home buying in the Melbourne property market

Good Negotiators see lies as actions

What is it we are trying to do? Reach an agreement.

Why is the agent lying to us? To reach an agreement – hopefully with us!

Lies can be very positive things

  • They can be an attempt by the other side to get a connection which they hope will lead to an agreement – they show a willingness to treat.
  • They are often a way to the truth if that is what you seek

Lies are actions designed to get a connection that otherwise (in the opinion of the liar) may not have happened.

Good Negotiators are looking for connections, even with liars

Connection – is the first and last step of any deal. Without connection you have no deal. Connection is the key ingredient of an agreement, more so than price.

Price is a figurative expression, the end product, of a connection of minds that have formed an agreement based on perceived facts and the actions of the parties.

A well-executed lie can get a connection – how many people don’t bid until there is another “offer”, but then bid under threat of one and a deal is struck.

A poorly executed lie can destroy a connection – the buyer will pay the asking price and probably more, but just doesn’t. Why because they don’t trust the agent, based on previous perceived lies and so moves onto another home.

But we’ve found its not always the lie that breaks or prevent the connection – it’s the reaction to it that does.

Good Negotiators and the blunt instrument

If you cannot get connection in a negotiation then you are forced to use a blunt instrument until you get a connection.

And that blunt instrument is?

No, it’s not a club or a fist – its cash.

That’s expensive to you or your client.

Buyers most affected by liars.

  • Out of the market for a long time
  • Interstate and overseas and different cultures
  • Not business orientated or
  • Buyers with egos not suited to best dealing with agents

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Good Negotiator and the moral high ground

Creating that connection isn’t best served by creating an emotional response and putting yourself on the moral high ground above those ‘lowly” agent liars. You might feel better able to defend yourself against the lies, but it also lessens your chances of connection.

Have you never said something or changed your mind, in an attempt to influence, that you think might be or you know to be different from what you have said. Are you really all alone on that moral high ground?

In Melbourne home buying you are a further away from the action when you are on the moral high ground and that means less chance of connection.

And remember the lesser the connection, the greater the use of the blunt instrument (cash) or you miss out.

Don’t let lies drive you to the moral high ground without due consideration.

Good Negotiators have very few attachments

Yes all buying and selling agents have heard the line “I’m not attached to this home”.  Most times when this is said a neon sign miraculously appears above the speaker’s head and its flashes: Liar, liar pants on fire – I am actually really attached to this home.

The better negotiators, whether liars or not, are good connectors; but they have little emotional attachment to a number of the things they say and you say.

In professional negotiation we have found if you limit the attachment, you limit the emotion and then you minimise the hurdles to connection between the parties.

Non-attachment is not a concept determined by the spoken word. It’s determined by an emotional feeling and only the very skilled can disguise their attachments from professional negotiators.

Paradox: Non-attachment is a characteristic of a good negotiator but also a characteristic of a good liar.

Good Negotiator and reading the play

A lie is good when you are the other side’s intended target of the deal and you read it correctly.

A lie is bad when you misread the lie and/or you are not the other side’s intended target of the deal.

Good negotiators can for the most part read the differences between a lie and a truth.

We (James Buyer Advocates) don’t get every nuance, every subtle ploy exactly right when dealing with liars and we don’t need to – because to do so means the experienced negotiator is focussing on the minutiae. Good Professional Negotiators always have an eye on the big picture – the client’s desired outcomes.

Good Negotiators carry a big stick (if they can find one)

Good negotiators carry a big stick in dealing with liars – please don’t read into this article that we are saying good negotiators should acquiesce to liars and accept lies.

Good negotiators don’t condone lies – after all its not an efficient way for a market to operate.

The big picture – good negotiators hit back in a timely manner (where appropriate) where a lie can be used against the liar. Many, many times a lie designed to increase the price actually lowers it – when used well against the liar by a professional negotiator.

But good negotiators don’t focus on hitting back at the expense of the client’s desired outcomes.

If we are lied to and it’s appropriate (to our clients benefit) we will return a lie with interest, but we don’t do so in a highly charged emotional state.

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Good Negotiators & TRUST – lying is not the only way to deal

A number of the better agents, be they buyer or seller agents, do not “materially” lie to their clients – they really don’t.

I’m not on the moral high ground here – its purely business. It’s never a good battle strategy to have mistrust within your own ranks. We don’t buy around 85% of the homes we go after at auction and over 90% of the homes at EOI because we are perceived as liars to our buying clients.

And we didn’t buy over 100 homes in 2013 around the $2 million to $4 million mark because we lied to those above same very experienced selling agents or they lied to us on a regular basis. A number of professional deals between experienced and competent negotiators are based on a healthy amount of trust and to be trusted you cannot lie (to your advantage) on a regular basis to those you represent or deal with (and get away with it).

You may have noticed that we have deliberately avoided a specific definition of what constitutes a lie – we have circled around it. Why? In our opinion, a unilaterally agreed definition of a lie is not the main game in Melbourne home buying. Is it a lie or is it bullshit and is their a difference? It is not important whether or not you and I think that a particular statement is a lie. If you perceive it is a lie, then for all intents and purposes it is a lie to you.

Healthy trust – is not blind trust – scepticism and independent, competent due diligence must always be part of the armoury of a good professional negotiator – after all the other side’s desired maximum outcomes are rarely the same as yours.

So for every liar and deal done on a lie there are many more we do with truth tellers and deals done on truths.

Good Negotiators and culture

In our early days of multi-cultural and international dealings we would get upset if things didn’t go the way for our clients we wanted them to go. And as you know, being upset means getting emotional, which leads to body changes and this was not in our future clients best interests. So we changed.

As previously stated, successful negotiators often look on a negotiation as a battle situation – they might follow Sun Tzu’s teachings – he would consider as positive, a deceitful move on the enemy if it resulted in a victory.

Different cultures have different ways of looking at what happens within a negotiation.

  • When I’m dealing with Indian sellers, agents or clients, for instance, I perceive it to be a moving goalposts culture.
  • When I’m dealing with Chinese people the goalposts seem to be very firm – but sometimes it takes me a long time to find where those goalposts are.
  • Both of those cultures operate in a different way to my Anglo-Christian upbringing – which lets face it has a far from perfect historical past in negotiations.

To say everybody who thinks differently to you is wrong and a liar will really only hurt one person in Melbourne home buying – you; or in our professional case, our buying client.

The same goes for the agents' culture. Each real estate agency in Melbourne has its own particular culture and there are huge cultural ‘moral’ rule differences between those companies.

RT Edgar is very different from Kay and Burton and Jellis Craig is different from Marshall White – they all have their own way of operating with people on the other side of their fence (you the buyers).

And as buyers you really need to understand that many agents do not perceive what they do to you as morally wrong and who’s to say which actions are and which aren’t?

Lies or perceived lies are endemic within the Melbourne property market.

Some may say all agents are liars.

Some may say all humans are liars.

The recognition of a lie can affect your body and mind chemically and make you react in ways detrimental to your best interests.

If you want to maximise your options and ultimately your longer term outcomes when buying in $1 million plus Inner Melbourne in 2014 then we feel you need to have an understanding of lies when dealing with agents and multicultural negotiations.

If you cannot deal with lies then your alternatives may well be limited to offering more cash or to missing out.

So don’t get mad or get even, get what you really want!

Stay focused on your longer term emotional, financial and physical outcomes above all else.

At times lies us affect us all – but its the circumstances that surrounds the lie and our reactions to it, rather than the initial lie itself which ultimately determines the damage it does to us.

Mal writes weekly auction reports, advice and in-depth market analysis on James' website.

Mal James

Mal James

Mal James is principal of James Buyer Advocates, which advocates on behalf of buyers of property over $1 million.

Mal James Strategy

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