By Ross Wilson

“On the plains of hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of decision, sat down to wait, and waiting, died.” – Sam Ewing

In this continuing series on the subject of ethical closing, you’ll find a few ideas to consider when exercising your closing muscles. Before proceeding, however, I recommend that you read my last column to enhance your comprehension.



Prior to trying a specific technique in the hope of obtaining an offer or listing contract, it’s critical to first test the waters. Unless you’re familiar with the lake, before leaping in for a swim, do you dip your toe in to test the temperature? Well, I recommend testing your client’s feelings before plunging ahead in an attempt to elicit a life-altering decision by using a trial or “small question” close. Get your toe in first.

You’ve found an affordable home that your timid buyers seem to really like. Instead of brashly blurting out a question about trying an offer, at the appropriate moment, ask if they would like the appliances to be included – not in an offer, but in the offer. Or if they ask if they’re included, instead of replying that they are or could be, ask if they would like them to be included in the offer.

Or ask a random question such as, “Will you replace the broadloom with hardwood?” or “Which room will each of your kids claim?” Did you notice how I replaced the “would” with “will”? Subtle, right? That’s a gentle segue from a hypothetical to actual. Or you could ask a question that can’t be answered simply with a yes or no, such as, “Will your daughter attend the public school down the street or the separate school on the next block?”

A positive response, or a school name, tells you they’re ready to make a decision, or very close to it. You’re on the right track

Then, try another, maybe more obvious trial question such as, “So, what possession do you prefer?” If they say as soon as possible, with a specific date or that it depends on what closing they can get on a sale of their present home, start preparing the offer. If they continue to demur, they’re still not ready. Retreat a little. A collective silence says they’re really thinking, or one spouse is quietly encouraging the other. However, with a positive response, you can say, “Okay, let’s go back to the office to discuss terms.” If they agree or just follow you out the door, you’re pretty much there.

If a seller prospect is stalling, you could ask, “Do you want to leave the appliances with the house?” or, “When do you prefer to vacate?” or, “Do you feel the house is ready for market?” With a positive reply, get busy completing the listing forms. Whatever you do – don’t pressure them. It’s unnecessary and counter-productive. You may lose every bit of trust you’ve won so far. It can take ages to gain it and only moments to lose it. Use your God-given intuition; your gut will tell you when it’s time. Don’t miss these opportunities. Time and time again, many agents blindly jabber right past them.

In the next column in the series on ethical closing techniques, I describe what I refer to as the Assumptive Close. If you can’t wait, I invite you to check out my book, The Happy Agent, available on-line or at several real estate board stores.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Absolutely true, Rita. Client interests must come before those of the agent, both legally and ethically. Unfortunately, however, I’ve come across countless situations during my career where the exact opposite is the reality. And the industry and its general population pay the price for such behaviour.

    I’d add only that an offer will result if the agent has done his or her job thoroughly, and has found the right property for the client. Thanks for your comments.

  2. Very good suggestions.
    In my experience the best guide a realtor can have is to act and think from what is in the best interest of the client. Ask and give helpful questions, and an offer will come together.

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