The Two Most Misused Phrases in Real Estate Negotiations

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Guerilla Realty 628217 & 35816

The Two Most Misused Phrases in Real Estate Negotiations


Do you mean what you say and say what you mean? It sounds simple enough, yet curiously I'm finding this basic tenant of negotiation is being ignored by many Realtors and their clients in today's marketplace.

In this busy Spring 2013 real estate market, the one we've earned after 5+ years of adverse market conditions, I'm seeing far too many agents are out of practice when it comes to negotiation skills. Two glaring examples come to mind, they are the two most misused phrases in real estate negotiations.


We have a deal


"We have a deal" are beautiful words. Hearing them can be nearly orgasmic if you've been working on a negotiation for days on end. When I hear the phrase "We have a deal" the next thing I want to see is.....


        Ink Pens Baltimore Maryland



Signatures. Ink on paper. We've arrived at a conclusion. We are ready to sign.


Because let's face it, it's not just "we have a deal" it's usually, "congratulations, we have a deal". Few things are more offensive in business than when you hear these words and then the other side keeps negotiating. They may try to downplay this tactic by asking questions and making suggestions. This is usually followed by an attempt to change the terms of the contract.

Technically you don't have a deal until the contract is fully executed. Nevertheless, I'm old school and I believe your word should be your bond - whether it is in an email, text message, or a verbal statement.

Let's say you uttered this joyous phrase on behalf of a client and you then see that your client has changed their mind. As quickly as possible you should let the other side know that you made a mistake and that you need to reopen the negotiation. It's not a great position to be in, but you're going to make it a whole lot worse if you don't apologize.

What you don't do is send an email or a text hours later with new demands. If you do, don't be surprised if the other side walks. Even if your points are minor, from an emotional perspective doing a 180 degree turn from "we got to the house / we sold the house" to the feeling of "uh oh, they were not serious" can be devastating.

Before you use that joyous wonderful phrase "we have a deal" as yourself and ask your clients, "Are you sure? Do you have any outstanding questions or concerns?" Maybe they need to sleep on it, I can respect that. Just don't put the other side in the position of having to call their clients and let them down. That is not the right way to start a deal.


Best and Final



"Best and Final" This is one of the two most misused phrases in real estate negations along with "we have a deal". Sometimes I hear agents say "best and final" and I know they are bluffing. The delivery is too fast and too casual. 

If I say the words "best and final" it really means "take it or leave it". I'm just using real estate jargon. My clients have reached their limit. It doesn't have to be said in a hostile way. I actually think it can be polite. Trying saying it this way, "My clients have instructed me to make this best and final offer ________________. Thank you for the consideration, we hope the answer is "yes".

"Best and Final" makes the responder have to answer "yes" or "no". Sure, they may issue a counter offer, however you've already let them know that they have your best offer. A counter offer is a long "no".

Don't say "best and final" unless you mean it. Make it a special occasion phrase. Not every negotiation involves a "best and final" round.

The two most misused phrases in real estate negotiations are "we have a deal" and "best and final". Ask yourselves, do you mean what you say and say what you mean? You have to balance the logic with the emotion. These two phrases should only be uttered at crucial times during the negation. Don't use them casually.



Posted by

Rachel Rabinowitz

Broker / Owner Guerilla Realty  and

Vice President Tranzon Fox Auctions

443.841.5916 direct /




Comments (37)

Jenn Morson
Metro Referrals - Crofton, MD
Licensed Referral Agent and ASP - Team Woda

Best and final is sometimes hard to stick to, I'd imagine, kind of like bidding on eBay - you wonder if just a LITTLE bit more give might get you what you want. But "we have a deal" needs to be set for sure! Nothing more disappointing than having that rug pulled out from under you. 

May 05, 2013 09:43 PM
Rachel Rabinowitz
Guerilla Realty - Baltimore, MD
The Baltimore Realtor

Hi Ed - You are right, especially if my perspective is gray area instead of so black and white.

Praful - Best wishes on the transaction. Thank you for the re-blog

Joan - You are a shining example of excellence (Joan Goldman is in my Baltimore office and we get to work together from time to time.)

Elizabeth - That's intense! I urge agents in your marketplace to pick up the phone.

Michelle - I know! Especially when we are just getting to know each other.

Margaret - "Consider" is a helpful word. I'll be taking your advice and keeping that in mind. Thanks for the kind words.

Bryan - My experience is that its something that flustered agents say in an emotional state. Go ahead, call their bluff!

Amanda - It's not that complicated is it? I appreciate your compliment.

Jenn - Agreed. I think best and final is most helpful when the two sides are fairly far apart.


Thank you all for reading. I hope this leads to more posts from our community on negotiating. Its one of my favorite parts of our job. Hearing other agents perspective is fascinating.



May 06, 2013 12:23 AM
John Fauth
Coldwell Banker King Thompson - Grove City, OH
Turning your dreams into an address!

Until it is in writing believe nothing! I take jargon for what it is. Just that. Words. Ink is the only finality.

May 07, 2013 02:49 AM
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Get to the closing and then you know you have a deal... that sticks, closes.

Aug 15, 2014 10:36 PM
Les & Sarah Oswald
Realty One Group - Eastvale, CA
Broker, Realtor and Investor

Oh, the wonders of the english word. Congratulations on your feature blog. I like how Margaret Rome uses the word "consider" before we  mutually have the meeting of the minds signed off in ink.

Aug 15, 2014 10:49 PM
Clay R. Seay
Florida Homes Realty & Mortgage - Saint Augustine, FL

Rachel, a good reminder to us all on our choice of words during negotiations.

Aug 15, 2014 11:23 PM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Yes to the words...I got it. Now, we need the music...Yes?

Aug 15, 2014 11:57 PM
Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities
Charlemagne International Properties - Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A.

But it works on HGTV (wink, wink).  Like you, I want to see it in writing.

Aug 16, 2014 12:39 AM
Graziella Bruner
NCS Premier Real Estate - Detroit, MI
Associate Broker - Serving Wayne & Oakland County

And sometimes "We have a deal & Best and final" may not even make it to the closing table.  Until everything has been finalized and you have a clear to close, it's really not a "We have a Deal"!  I want to hear, Clear to Close!

Aug 16, 2014 01:55 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Never use "best and final" myself but hear it quite a bit in  our multiple offer environment. I would hate to say congratulations we have a deal until we have it in writing from both parties

Aug 16, 2014 02:26 AM
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

Great advice. I had a seller reject an "best and final" offer.. A couple of weeks later they wanted to accept the "best and final" offer they had rejected, but it was too late.  The buyers found another property.

Aug 16, 2014 01:51 PM
Jeff Pearl
RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA - Lovettsville, VA
Full Service Full Time Realtor

Yes, those terms are overused. Agents do not own the property and have no authority to declare " We have a deal". Agents have gotten fined and lost their license for making statements like that. We hear a similar " Highest and Best" in this area, but that usually happens when there are multiple offers and sellers don't want to deal with multiple counter offer situations.

Aug 17, 2014 12:40 AM
Bill Reddington
Re/max By The Sea - Destin, FL
Destin Florida Real Estate

I deal until it is signed. Many times the final counter just isn't. Just have to keep pushing to get it signed off

Aug 17, 2014 11:06 AM
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Best and final are meant to be just that....I have found that many times, it isn't.  There is a little more that a buyer is willing to pay or a seller is willing to give.  After all, no one wants to get that close to have it just fall apart over a $500 difference.

Aug 18, 2014 03:13 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

The best and final is one I see abused all the time. I always tell my clients if we are going to say best and final, it really better be best and final or we lose credibility.

Aug 18, 2014 05:27 AM
Mark Lomas
Santa Barbara Real Estate - Santa Barbara, CA
Experience You Can Count On!


Aug 18, 2014 06:56 AM
Jeff Jensen
The Federal Savings Bank/Lending in 50 states - Greenwich, CT

When you are near the end of negotiations it is certainly not a good time to misspeak.

Aug 18, 2014 07:49 AM
Amy Steele Realtor SRS CNE NHS MRP LUXE
JP and Associates - North Richland Hills, TX
Amy Steele Estates Group LLC

just like the fabled "my clients are writing an offer" that you hear a lot.  Don't believe in that Unicorn till it shows up in writing in your email and certainly don't tell your clients until it's there!

Aug 19, 2014 05:44 AM
Claude Labbe
Real Living | At Home - Washington, DC
Realty for Your Busy Life

I've had so many clients, on both sides, say "best/final", to then yet again, tweak to be more better and more final.  Or to then get upset when the other side walked away and didn't continue.

"We have a deal" is like Mom telling me I'm her favorite.  She says that to all of us as she smiles.

Aug 19, 2014 12:44 PM
Brian Force
Dallas, TX
Work With the Best!

Best and Final! The most loosely used term in real estate and hardly ever true!

Aug 20, 2014 04:48 AM