“Just Say (Hell) No!” ” Realtor Version; or
“It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask, Right?” Wrong!

[Note to Readers: Realtor rant alert ” if you are one of the vast majority of prospective home Buyers and Sellers who value and respect your Realtor’s considerable efforts on your behalf, please skip the following. If, however, you’re not ” or you’re a Realtor who has ever been taken aback by a client who asked you to cut your commission . . . read on. And yes, humor is a better strategy than indignation, even if the latter sentiment is warranted, and the former sentiment hard to muster. ]

If you work in real estate sales long enough, trust me, in the middle of a heated negotiation (or perhaps even before), you’ll eventually field some variant of the following question:

Client: “The Buyer/Seller and I are only $__ apart. We’ve already raised/lowered our price several times. Would you (and the other agent) also “contribute something” (i.e., reduce your commission) to get this deal done?”

Realtor [exasperated]: . . . You want me to do what?!?’ Really?!?”

Gut Punch

What makes the question even more . . shall we say, “provocative” is that it is inevitably posed by a client: a) who the Realtor just showed 117 houses spanning a dozen zip codes; and b) who has, up until that point, effusively praised their Realtor’s skills, hard work, etc. on their behalf . . . . . and how much they appreciate same.

So, as a public service to my hard-working, underpaid Realtor colleagues everywhere who are temporarily rendered speechless by such a brazen request, I offer up the following “Top Ten” ready-made responses.

Client: “We’re only $X apart from a deal. We’ve already raised our offer/lowered our asking price thousands of dollars. We think it’s only fair for you (and the other Realtor) to make some concession to get this deal done. How about it?”

Realtor comeback #10: I certainly can understand why you’re asking me to cut my commission, [Client first name], but . . . “no.”

Realtor comeback #9: “Hell, no!”

Realtor comeback #8: “We carefully discussed my compensation before you hired me, [Client First Name]. I expect to be paid according to the Buyer Rep contract you signed.’

Realtor comeback #7: “I really like you, [Client First Name] . . . but would you please take your hand out of my pocket?!?’

Realtor comeback #6: “That’s certainly an interesting request. How would you feel if I asked for part of your paycheck?’

Realtor comeback #5: “That’s funny. After showing you 117 houses in a dozen zip codes, I was thinking of asking you for a bonus!”

Realtor comeback #4: “You know, [Buyer First Name], the difference between your last offer and the Seller’s asking price is less than $X. At today’s interest rates, that would increase your monthly payment by $7.81. If that’s a big hurdle, we probably should be looking for homes in a lower price bracket.’

Realtor comeback #3: “I’d be happy to. Now, if your inspection or walk-thru (just before closing) turn up any issues that you can’t resolve with the Seller, will you be expecting me to contribute the rest of my commission? Or perhaps even write you a check?’

Realtor comeback #2: “You know, Mr. Buyer, up until now you seem to have really appreciated all my hard work on your behalf. If you really feel that way, why are you asking me to take a pay cut??

Realtor comeback #1: “Shame on you, Mr./Mrs. Client!”

Never Just One “Cockroach’

Of course, which (if any) of the above the offended Realtor will actually use depends on their personality, their client, and just how exasperated they may be.

Oh . . . and one other cautionary piece of advice, for novice agents fielding this question for the first time.

The same client who will ask you to “contribute” to a deal will also most likely do one (or more) of the following: a) insist on making multiple, unrealistically lower offers on well-priced, well-marketed homes newly on the market; b) raise out-of-bounds issues during the inspection and walk-thru, and threaten not to close unless they’re addressed and/or the sales price is reduced; c) denigrate your negotiating skills when aforesaid behavior thwarts ” or jeopardizes ” their deals.

All of which is why jettisoning such clients early is often the best and smartest course of action.

P.S.: Just in case none of the above fit the bill, here are some “runners-up” Realtor responses:

—”I already contribute to my favorite charities. For my professional efforts, I expect to be paid (don’t you?).”

—”Sorry, I have a strict policy: I don’t help clients pay for their homes.”

—”You hired me, presumably, for my negotiating skills. Now, I wouldn’t be a very good negotiator if I agreed to do that, would I?”

—”I’ve got a deal for you, Mr. Buyer. I’ll trade you 25% of my paycheck for 25% of yours” (caution: only suggest this with clients who make much more than you do).

—”I’d be happy to. Now, which Bedroom are you planning on giving me?”

—”I’d like to reduce my commission, [Client name] ” but do you have any idea how much Porsches cost these days?!?”

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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