If you refuse to agree with me, I’m gonna sue you!

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Pareto Realty TN #251071

Threatening lawsuit is NOT the path of least resistance to conflict resolution.

In fact, the threat of lawsuit will almost certainly result in immediate cessation of anything akin to useful dialog.

Spirited debate is healthy (I think of watching puppies as they figure out their hierarchy of dominance) . . . but when it escalates to unreasonableness . . . POOF . . . “usefulness” vanishes.

Most threats of litigation are “idle threats”, and we all know it.

These are “in the heat of the moment” frustrations boiling over to grasp for anything within reach to FORCE your will on your “opponent.”

When we posit legal action, do we pause long enough to consider the complexity and cost (Time, Energy, And Money) we are potentially “investing” in an action which likely will not bear fruit and will consume our very souls for a long time.

What’s the real “opportunity cost” of following through on this threat?

Is it worth the probable damage to personal and business relationships – Credibility – Reputation – and whatever publicity and stigma that goes with it?

In my world of Real Estate sales, there are plenty opportunities for REALTORS and Home Buyers and Sellers to get cross-wise with each other.

All too often, emotions can well up as we all deal with multiple, complex issues to be tackled by multiple personalities with dogs in the hunt.


When things go wonky, and someone utters the “S” word (sue), it’s time to pause and breathe and . . . study the contract.

What does the contract say in plain black and white about this issue?

Let’s together seek to understand the agreement.

Then . . . Let’s work together to find resolution.

But first . . . Let’s remember why we’re in this dialog/argument . . . A willing and able Buyer likes the house currently for sale by a willing and able Seller, and our job as Real Estate Sales Professionals is to “Facilitate” this transaction while sustaining fiduciary duties to our clients.

Agents . . . Don’t get in the way of (sabotage) a perfectly good transaction out of hubris.

Our clients deserve better.

(Hops off the soap box)


Strategist-CEO of Pareto Realty Inviter-Facilitator-Practicer of Open Space Technology Opening safe space for people & organizations to self-organize around issues & opportunities Invite-Listen-Love

Posted by

Barry Owen

Principal Broker
Pareto Realty
Nashville, TN

Call me: 615-568-2123
email me: barryo@comcast.net




Simply & BOLDLY Living the FourFold Way in Open Space!

Quintessentially connected to the real estate industry to offer the ultimate experience for Home Buyers and Sellers in Middle Tennessee . . . Inquire within!


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

Barry- very good!!! And I don't think this is limited to the world of real estate. Too often the parties involved forget why they're there. It becomes a matter of who's going to win. 

Sep 08, 2018 09:47 AM #4
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224


                            Thank you, Barry. 

Sep 08, 2018 05:13 PM #5
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good morning Barry Owen,

What a great post! I'm so glad that Kathy Streib featured it in her "Ah_Ha" moments for the week. Agents must remember we are trying to help our clients by guiding them to the closing table. Keep your egos in check and work for the client..it is why we have written contracts.

Sep 09, 2018 06:07 AM #6
Dave Rosenmarkle
Highland Realty - Arlington, VA
32 years of providing fully satisfying service!

Sometimes, the error or omission is really egregious and agents should not shy away from fully standing up for their clients' rights, buyer or seller, in the name of "let's get to closing, regardless of the circumstances". You might preserve your commission, but what have you given away in the process?


Way too many agents and clients give in when one or two steps of proactive and professional conduct would have preserved the contract and the client's (Buyer or Seller) position in a condition or contract item in dispute.

Sep 09, 2018 08:33 AM #7
John Henry
John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. - Orlando, FL
Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design

The best idea is to work it out if possible.

The problem with any contract is that unless both parties are equally prepared for battle (assuming one is in the right and the other isn't) and that they are equally financed to the hilt, then 'justice' won't be served.

I work for people who are worth 100 times more than me.  I was shortchanged on a contract recently and the $9K was not worth the risk of going to court.

You have to think about that too.

Sep 09, 2018 08:34 AM #8
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

This is a faithful subject that needs to make the rounds more often thank you

Sep 09, 2018 10:01 AM #9
Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886
Phoenix Property Shoppe - Phoenix, AZ
Arizona's Top Banana!

Barry Owen in my world that is the last position to take after exhaustive measures have been taken.  Thankfully in the 30+ years I've been in business this has never came up and I pray it never does. I would not want our clients to go such an experience.

Sep 09, 2018 10:48 AM #10
Stephen Turner
Gemcraft Homes (TriCorner Realty) - York, PA

all very good points. Like you said most talks of legal action are just threats, those threats never really help solve anything.

Sep 09, 2018 11:59 AM #11
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good evening Barry - the way I see it facilitation should be used instead of confrontation.

Sep 09, 2018 04:51 PM #12
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


Well said!! I suspect there ARE times when a lawsuit may need to happen but other effort should be made to rectify the problems first, including mediation which is encouraged here in CA. Sadly, emotions so often get in the way but once you start down the legal path things can get expensive and don't typically get resolved quickly.


Sep 09, 2018 04:59 PM #13
James (Jim) Lawson, DBA
DomainRealty.com LLC - Bonita Springs, FL
Broker Associate, RSPS, BPOR, HI & PE

Well said Barry. Best to work it out, if possible. However, I have chased money owed to me a couple of times using the courts when I had a strong case and it made sense from a cost/benefit standpoint.

Sep 09, 2018 10:53 PM #14
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

When someone says the "sue" word, everything DOES stop. If you know someone is threatening legal action, anything said after that is said with the knowledge it could be used against you. We definitely have a very litigious society. It's too bad. We should really get better at working things out ourselves.

Sep 10, 2018 03:32 AM #15
Lisa Heindel
Crescent City Living LLC - New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Real Estate Broker

Like Kat said, everything comes to a screeching halt when people start threatening to sue. At that point, we reduce all communications to writing in order to protect ourselves. When that someone is another agent? Sheesh. They need to get out of their own way and stop impeding the transaction (unless it's truly merited, of course)

Sep 10, 2018 08:04 AM #16
Barry Owen
Pareto Realty - Nashville, TN

Oh goodness . . . I just noticed this post was featured . . . Sorry folks . . . I'll check out all the comments after this next appointment. I can't wait to read your comments

Sep 10, 2018 09:20 AM #17
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Actual words of reason...imagine that! It's not something we see much of these days! Great post and great advice!

Sep 10, 2018 10:05 AM #18
Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

"Facilitate", great word and an excellent action. Here via Kathy Streib 

Sep 10, 2018 11:57 AM #19
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

To just present an opposing view, and no, I don't want to sue you, LOL . . . but there are times that call for it. Albeit, not many.

Reminds me of when I bought a house in Minneapolis with seller financing in 1991, and the seller refused to attend closing. Decided to cancel at the last minute. I grabbed the keys from the selling agent and moved in, telling the seller they either go to escrow and sign or I will see them in court because I have performed and have since moved in.

Risky move, but they signed.

Sep 10, 2018 12:53 PM #20
Anna Hatridge
Goodson Realty - Farmington, MO
Missouri Realtor with Goodson Realty

Congratulations on the feature!  Well said.

Sep 10, 2018 05:55 PM #21
Jerry Lucas
ABC Legal Docs LLC - Colorado Springs, CO
Mobile Notary Colorado Springs, CO Notary Training

All contracts are agreements, but not all agreements are contracts.

Many contracts include dispute resolution clauses requiring the parties to use mediation or arbitration rather than a courtroom trial.

Many small claim courts require parties to first seek mediation before filing a lawsuit.

Sep 10, 2018 06:32 PM #22
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

I was involved in a lawsuit one time early in my real estate career--thankfully had the errors and omissions insurance!  Still, lawsuit threats between buyers and sellers can get so nasty.

Sep 11, 2018 12:37 PM #23
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