How I Would Negotiate the Debt Ceiling Debate

Real Estate Agent with Realty ONE Group

Rep. Boehner, President Obama, Republicans, Democrats, Tea Partiers, etc.,

It seems you're having a little bit of trouble deciding what to do as we stand now a few days ahead of defaulting as a nation our debt. I can help. I'm a real estate professional and I negotiate for my supper every day, so to speak. Trust me on this.

White HouseFirst off, can I suggest we look at what the real goal here is?

No, it's not about who wins - whatever party prevails really is irrelevant for everything except personal ego and, I beg you, you have to take that out of the equation.

This is a common conversation I have, particularly with my buyers over the past couple of years. It's not about winning or "beating" the seller. In the best negotiations, everybody wins (or loses) to the same degree.

No, it's not about the long-term spending habits of the United States government. Yes, this absolutely ought to be addressed sooner rather than later. And while deadlines are helpful in getting everyone focused, it's not necessarily the best time to draw a line in the sand and decide either everything gets solved or else.

To adopt such an all-or-nothing stance, you need to have a little bit of leverage. And when a failure to come up with a solution ends in doom for all involved, neither side has any leverage to use to force their position. Yesterday I had a loud conversation with a listing agent on a short sale who was being, let's say, challenging. Finally I had to tell him that my buyers need to buy far less than his sellers need to sell. Which was both true and irrelevant; the bottom line is everyone wants to see some sort of solution come through.

No solution - no agreement - is a failure, end of story.

No, this isn't about ideology. As much as you believe in something, there comes a time when practicality has to take over. Before the Phoenix market turned to a sellers' market, I often had to tell buyers that while it was a buyers market and they held much of the leverage, that didn't mean whatever they offered was going to be correct. And being right wasn't the point.

Gentlemen and ladies, you need to focus on the most immediate and important goal - preventing a default by the United States government. All other concerns should be secondary to this and any energy spent pointing fingers rather than seriously talking while subordinating ideologies, parties and ego is energy wasted.

Much like my buyers and sellers ... the ultimate goal is to transfer ownership of the home. While both sides want the best possible deal for themselves, what they need is the best possible deal that allows there to be a deal. Holding firm at the cost of not buying or selling may give false comfort about having stood one's ground but, ultimately, it also means that the buyer or seller didn't succeed in what they wanted to do - to buy or sell.

The best negotiations are those in which everyone wins. Even if it doesn't feel like a win based on your personal views and your own ego, if you take a step back you may see that realizing the most urgent goal is a win itself.

You should listen to me, folks. I'm a real estate agent.

Photo credit: Damian Brandon /

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Comments (3)

Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Hi Jonathan. Good post and I agree. Mostly, I love your dog.

Jul 28, 2011 10:38 AM
Jonathan Dalton
Realty ONE Group - Glendale, AZ

He's pretty much the brains of the operation, Sheila.

Jul 28, 2011 10:46 AM
Lloyd Binen
Certified Realty Services - Saratoga, CA
Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411

Rigid ideological principles only work if a consensus isn't required to progress.

Jul 30, 2011 08:54 AM