It is incredible here and I feel so so so lucky to be on this adventure. So so so lucky. The trip from Boston was surprisingly short, easy and inexpensive (4.5 hours). We return to California Sunday morning.
So what was the Harvard Negotiation Program about?
Well, let me start by saying it was everything I dreamed it would be. I met amazing people, I learned so much and I had the best time ever.
How did I get here?
I promised myself about 5 years ago when I did the National Association of Realtors Negotiation Expert certification that I would do this program before I turned 50, and Harvard opened classes to in-person attendance just in time. I applied to the program and bought plane tickets.
What did I learn?
Many people think of negotiations as haggling or dickering about price. Others think it is about contentious argumentation to get your way. It is really about creating value, building relationships and understanding how to communicate clearly, without emotions getting in the way, and developing opportunities for everyone involved.
Smart negotiators avoid emotional language, cut the ego out of the conversation, and focus on end goals. You have to respect the other party, build rapport, and appreciate and understand each party’s autonomy while creating a true sense of agency for the cooperating party. Nobody wants to feel misunderstood, undervalued, or unheard. We all want to be and feel seen. The goal is not to put a line in the sand. The goal is to bring value while acknowledging the other party’s perspective.
Real estate is about relationships— it isn’t just about my relationship with my clients (although that is incredibly important, it tends to come more naturally as our goals are generally aligned).
It is about relationships with other agents, with mortgage brokers and with the other service providers.
I am constantly looking for the micro-errors compromising my performance. Negotiation is about preparation above all else, because the more you know, the more likely you are to succeed. Expert negotiators are looking for “in the moment shifts” to be able to create opportunities. We write down short-term action plans & we set out to create a sense of fairness.
How does this translate to your next move in real estate?
A real estate transaction isn’t just about money, it is about terms, and it is about relationships.
Last year, at the height of the pandemic, I had some really lovely, smart clients who found a house they loved- . In a competitive market, how do you not overpay? You talk terms. I called the agent. We built rapport (she was great to work with), I learned that the sellers had purchased a home out of the area that wouldn’t close until 45 days after we got in escrow. I also knew that my buyers had a rental they were obligated to for another 60 days. So instead of being the highest bidder- we were able to offer something better- a 10 day close with a long and free rent back. This was a something of incredibly high value to the sellers that was easy for my buyers to provide and even though we were not the highest offer, we still got the deal. Why? Because we asked the right questions.
On the listing side, there have been times that when all things are equal except I know the buyer's agent and they are known to be flaky, unreliable or difficult, I can advise my client to accept a different offer. It is all about nuance and practiced expertise. It is what I do daily.
What I learned this past week at Harvard built on that, and will help me take it to the next level and I a, beyond excited to come back to the bay, refreshed and ready to get to work for you.