The Principle of the Thing

Real Estate Agent with Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA VA License # 0225089470

The Principle of the Thing

Seems like this Top Bristow-Gainesville Agent has spent a lot of time in the last few weeks saving clients from chasing down a position rooted in principle.  Believe me, as a very principled person, the principle of the thing has gotten hold of me in my own life too.  I once chose to fund an attorney to countersue a psycho intern who decided to hack into my email and create havoc among my contacts.  Mind you, my contacts ranged from national radio hosts to my own friends.  The kid had a problem and hopefully found counseling after our issue.  His suit alleged I had blacklisted him at the radio network and sister companies after reporting his hacking into my emails to my superior.  The fact that he was fired for hacking into emails seemed to fly right over his head.  He was sued ME for reporting it, which got him in serious trouble and changed the course of his professional life.  Rather than give the kid a blessed dime to drop the suit he filed, I funded a trusted attorney to countersue.  Who knows if it was the right business decision, but it sure felt good to show the kid that actions have consequences.   In fact, thinking back on it, I seem to recall that the attorney I hired advised it would be cheaper to throw money at the intern and make him go away.  Nope.  I preferred to spend money sending my attorney's kids to college vs. giving the intern the feeling he had won.

Had I been in a real estate transaction with this unstable person and had a common goal which involved the changing hands of a property, I would have been silly to push the principle of the thing.  It would have gotten me off course from the goal of getting to the settlement table.  And when there is a mutual goal of the opposing parties, it is wise to keep that common goal in mind.

In a real estate transaction, emotions run high and it is easy to feel you are in an all out war.  Negotiations surrounding home inspection and appraisal are probably the most heated battles I see between buyers and sellers.  When either side picks up the weapon we call "the principle of the thing" my mind immediately conjures up the opening scenes from the movie Saving Private Ryan where soldiers are being slain as they storm the beach at Normandy.  The odds of keeping a deal in tact when the principle of the thing has been conjured up in negotiations is slim to none.

If buyers and sellers could see the wasted deals of buyers and sellers before them that were wasted due to the principle of the thing, they may back off.  And in our role as their professionals, at the helm of their side of the deal, it is our duty to keep emotions out of negotiations.  Focusing on the dollars and cents difference versus focusing on the hurt pride that goes along with the principle of the thing goes a long way to keeping heads level.  Hurt pride has an internal multiplier to those dollars and cents that we as agents can't see or feel.  However, if we keep focus on the wins vs. the losses, and what chasing the principle may actually end up costing our clients, we allow our clients to not just feel they have won, but actually achieve the goal of making it to the settlement table.  

It is okay to drop the principle of the thing in exchange for achieving the desired goal of buying or selling a home.  The principle of the thing can't put a roof over your head, or find you an identical deal to sell if the current one blows up.  The principle of the thing is a sneaky devil that can keep us from achieving real estate goals, while making us feel we have won.  But have you really won if you no longer are under contract to buy your dream home because you walked when the seller wouldn't include the washer and dryer with the home?  Have you really won if you lost a deal that was going to keep from unknown expenses of pursuing another sale when you have merely lost $2,000 in a low appraisal?  Take a deep breath and focus on the goals you had at the outset of the transaction.  If they are still in view, don't let the principle of the thing drag you off course.





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Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Hi Chris Ann- or as my mother used to say- you don't want to cut your nose to spite your face. People need to understand that their actions will have consequences. Glad you showed him his. 

Jul 07, 2018 01:57 PM #5
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

That's an excellent topic you have chosen for this post, Chris Ann, and your insight is right on.

Jul 07, 2018 02:51 PM #6
Robert Vegas Bob Swetz
Realty ONE Group - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Henderson Homes for Sale

Hello Chris Ann,

Interesting post and I also think Anna's got a good comment ;o)

Jul 07, 2018 09:05 PM #7
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

I liken this to the 'taking the high road' mentality. Like you, it's about the principle for me and taking the high road doesn't get to the issue at-hand, Chris Ann. Had you 'taken the high road' back in your radio days, someone else could have had something worse done to them by this guy!

I struggle with that on some of the service providers that I have hired online - do you tell the world they're nothing short of scammers, even though they're friends with other friends of yours? Or do you keep your mouth shut? 

In real estate, the principle thing does, indeed, get in the way sometimes - for sure!

Great post, Chris Ann!

Jul 08, 2018 09:01 AM #8
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Chris Ann. I get this but it is hard backing down or off when the honor of it matters. Sometimes it doesn't.

Jul 08, 2018 09:21 AM #9
Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

Keeping emotion out of the business deal is one of the earliest lessons I learned - the hard way.  People who are standing on "principle" often just want what they want yet are willing to walk to prove a point. 

A real estae transaction is not usually  a "stand your principle" type of scenario. I often think it's grandstanding.

Jul 08, 2018 10:16 AM #10
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Chris Ann

I particularly liked what you said about keeping the goal in mind. That can also help in keeping the emotions from getting you sidetracked as a buyer, or a seller.


Jul 08, 2018 02:21 PM #11
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good afternoon Chris Ann Cleland,

Loved your post and glad to see it featured. We are problem solvers and its up to us to find solutions to challenges that arise. I have said the same things that Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886 . When a seller or buyer says "But its the principle of the thing." No it's not! The question is always do you want to buy or sell? If so then let's make it happen!

Jul 08, 2018 02:27 PM #12
Yolanda Cordova-Gilbert
Richmond, TX

Chris Ann,

 I think you countersuing was the correct thing, I totally agree with real estate it is getting the deal done. I hope you are having a wonderful Sunday and great blog I enjoy reading it!

Jul 08, 2018 02:50 PM #13
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of Manchester NH's Leading Agents

I take it as my Job is to take emotion out of real estate but principle is another story. Each situation is weighed and what is best is what i often do. It is not always easy Chris Ann Cleland but it is usually always right in the end

Jul 08, 2018 03:40 PM #14
Jerry Murphy, CRS, SRES
Long Realty West Valley - Anthem, AZ
Anthem, Phoenix, and Scottsdale AZ Real Estate

Sometimes people can't see the forest for the trees.  I see this more and more these days.  People like to dig in their heels, even when they don't have the upper hand.  And yes, it's ususally due to the "princple of the thing".  Great post Chris Ann and best of luck to you.


Jul 08, 2018 07:03 PM #15
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

I don't see this situation as the principle of the thing. The "principle of the thing" is a scapegoat. Just words. Has nothing to do with principle and all to do with narrow-minded stupidity.

They see only the little picture and not the bigger picture. No way is that principle.

Jul 09, 2018 07:25 AM #16
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Usually when people say "its the principal of the thing" money is involved

Jul 09, 2018 09:17 AM #17
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Very interesting post and nice little anecdote to begin. I agree with Richie above in that money is usually involved for real estate deals so I'm not sure how many actual principles play into this. However, in a broader sense, a man has to have his principles or what else is left at the end of the day?

Jul 09, 2018 12:46 PM #18
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Hi Chris Ann Cleland, no reason to sweat the "small stuff". We know buyers, agents and sellers do the craziest things using "it's the principle" as an excuse. They get so out of touch that cost them the home they wish to buy/sell.

Jul 09, 2018 03:38 PM #19
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

I think we've all been sucked down the rabbit hole of fighting for what we perceived to be the "principle of the thing".  However seeing it as a business decision it's almost always the best thing to do to let it go.  And after you "throw money at an attorney instead of an intern" a time or two you get it.  Time is money.  I'll say that again, TIME. IS. MONEY.  sometimes we just have to let it go.

Jul 09, 2018 09:10 PM #20
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

A couple of years ago I found myself in one of those "principle" situatations.  A listing agent trying to proclaim procuring cause on my buyer clients.  By all rights, if I'd wanted to fight that one at the board, I'd have won...IF the board made the decision in a totally unbiased way.  But the other agent is a 100+ deals a year agent and connected.  Me?  I'm doing 20+ and about as apolitical as you can find.  I didn't trust the system and knew I risked losing a 9k commission check, so it was far easier to pay the $500 "extortion" fee to make it go away.  I just didn't need the extra stress and distraction in my life in dealing with it.  And I hope I never have cause to show that agent's listings ever again since I know his "principles" at this point.  Bill

Jul 10, 2018 04:16 AM #21
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

I read your post with interest as you told the story of the "psycho intern" and the email hacking, and I've enjoyed the comments. We have to remain calm and look to the desired outcome rather than get caught up in the emotional aspect of homebuying and the "principle of the thing". It isn't always easy but I remind myself to look at the end result and be the "calming voice" of the transaction.

Jul 10, 2018 05:39 PM #22
Curtis Van Carter
Better Homes & Gardens Wine Country Group - Yountville, CA
Your Napa Valley Broker Extraordinaire

Chris Ann

Another great post that sure rings true for me. I sometimes get emotional about deals but manage most of the time, to keep them suppressed. However, I have come away from deals having done absolutely nothing wrong and feel very badly. It is just who I am. Congrats on the featured rating and cheers cvc

Jul 10, 2018 06:47 PM #23
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

It is tough to always be the one that takes the high road.  Sometimes we want to show that we are right and that actions have real consequences, as in the case of your intern and the countersuit.  However, I strongly believe that there is no practicality of the principle when we are representing someone else's interests.  We are problem solvers and guardians of another person's largest financial investment.  We need to be the better person, it isn't about showing them to be is about getting to the closing table and making it work.  Great post.

Jul 10, 2018 06:49 PM #24
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Chris Ann Cleland

Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
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