March to a Solution: Assumptions

Real Estate Broker/Owner with 406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® RRE-BRO-LIC-75443

This post is being submitted for the March 2023 ActiveRain Challenge: March to a Solution. The goal is to write about a scenario that could come up during a real estate transaction and how we might resolve the issue.

My first post has to do with making assumptions on how a transaction will turn out or on how a client might respond. For example:


Scenario #1: Low Appraisal

In a transaction where I represented the seller, the appraisal came in lower than the contracted price. This happens all over the country on a daily basis and isn't unusual. There are four ways to address a low appraisal: the seller comes down to the appraised price, the buyer puts in the additional money to fill the appraisal gap, the seller and buyer meet somewhere in the middle, or the deal is terminated.

In this case the appraised value came in 10% below the contracted price, so it was a significant gap (a review of the appraisal indicates the appraiser did a great job - long story which can't be shared about why the appraisal was so far below the contract price). So the appraisal price stood. The buyers indicated they could not come up with additional funds to fill the gap and they wanted the seller to come down in price. The seller refused to budge on the contracted amount. At that point I assumed this deal was dead and we'd have to start again. What I did NOT do was to give voice to my feelings. I did not prepare any termination paperwork. Instead, I went back to the buyer agent and calmly described the issue. She told me to hang on, she'd get back to me.

After some back and forth between all parties, the response I totally assumed would NOT happen did. The buyer made up the entire difference and the deal closed successfully on time.


Scenario #2: The House

I have had many experiences where I've gone into a house with a buyer and I assumed "Ick, they won't want to live here!" and lo and behold, they do. Or the reverse is true. On paper a house is exactly what the buyers described as their perfect new home. We walk in and I assume this is the one they will buy. They do not want it. What I don't do is to give voice to my feelings/ assumptions. Instead I ask what they think. The answers are sometimes surprising.


Scenario #3: The Clients

Assuming we know how our clients feel is never a good strategy.

For example, I worked with a couple and I assumed we had a great relationship going. I understood their needs, we went to see some homes, clarified needs and went out again. Our sense of humors were a match and we were often laughing while working towards their ultimate home. They left one day after a showing never to be seen or heard from again. I had assumed they would get to the closing with me and I'd hand over keys to my happy clients. That did not happen, nor did they ever respond to me, nor did they ever buy a home in my area. Being one of my first clients, that was a real eye opener.

Another example of assuming we know how people feel. I worked with another couple to purchase a home, and I felt we had a very professional relationship but not a particularly friendly one. I answered their questions, provided assistance and guidance, and we closed successfully with promises to talk soon. Very shortly after that closing, I received an invitation for my husband and I to come to dinner at their new home. I wasn't even sure what we would talk about, because we really didn't know that much about each other. So we went over with a little trepidation. We had an amazing evening full of laughter and that started off a bunch of back & forth meals and outings. Those clients who I assumed didn't really care for a personal relationship recently came to visit us in Montana and will be back again.

And the final one is one many of us have run into. Years ago I visited a friend's grown daughter multiple times to give her input on things to do to her home to prepare it for sale and we talked about price at one point. My friend (her dad) was also part of those discussions and I was to be notified as soon as the house was ready to go. Imagine my surprise a few weeks later when I drove around a corner and saw another agents' sign in front of her house. It wound up she didn't like my price and went with someone who believed in her price. After multiple price reductions it sold at the price I originally gave her. The surprise I felt was because I assumed I had that listing and I did not.



We all know that making assumptions can lead us in a heap of trouble but we all do it from time to time. And the real takeaway (the how we can resolve the issue) is to never act on those assumptions. Keep those assumptions in your brain and do more investigation to see what the facts are. Don't say "Yuck, this house is gross" if you think so, or "No" if you're invited to dinner with previous clients. Don't fill out paperwork based on your assumption on how a deal will go or how a buyer or seller might react. Just stay in touch with the facts.

This is my first entry into the March 2023 ActiveRain challenge. Thank you for reading if you made it this far!

Comments (21)

Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co Notary Services retired RE Broker

Excellent post and entry into the March Challenge Kat Palmiotti . Every one of those stories were familiar to me from my own experience.

Mar 10, 2023 01:20 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Bob "RealMan" Timm - they happen to all of us!

Mar 10, 2023 01:25 PM
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Kat it took me a while but it has finally been drilled into my thick head not to ASSUME a Buyer is going to do the mortgage loan with me until they have signed the loan application and disclosures.  Even then sometimes they walk away and do not make it to the closing table, especially in refi situations.

Mar 10, 2023 04:17 PM
Kat Palmiotti

I'll be they do George Souto - your business is a lot like ours in that way!

Mar 10, 2023 05:49 PM
Doug Jones
Mortgage Magic - San Jose, CA
Mortgage Broker - NMLS 286668

Because most of my work has been in lending; it was numbers and I could do transactions for people hundreds of miles away. I was always fast and accurate but not very warm personally. I never had that relationship that most Realtors have with their clients and even assumed the clients did not care for me at all. What I do now is visit soon after the close and sit at the kitchen table (usually) spend an hour of so talking and showing them magic. Until that moment most never knew that I  am a magician. So far everybody has been a barrel of laughs and fun. I'm learning . 

Absolutely excellent article.

Mar 10, 2023 10:35 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you so much Doug Jones and thank you for sharing. I think one of the things about real estate professionals, is we can spend a lot of time with buyers specifically and if we ride with them in the car to showings we have a lot of time to chat. That's something the mortgage professionals don't have.

By the way, I didn't know you were a magician. Maybe you could come to one of the ActiveRain Zoom calls on a Tuesday and show us some of your magic and talk about mortgage stuff too if you would like. What do you think?

Mar 11, 2023 04:34 AM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Kat I have learned in the military what Assume means so if you need a clarification, I will be happy to share with you off line... Endre

Mar 10, 2023 11:56 PM
Kat Palmiotti


Good morning Endre Barath, Jr. !

Mar 11, 2023 04:34 AM
Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

These examples show exactly why you are such a great agent and always make sure your client's best interests are in mind!

Mar 11, 2023 05:04 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you for your kind words Brian England !

Mar 11, 2023 05:43 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Good morning, Kat... never presume, never assume... a good rule by which to live life in general and as real estate professionals.

Mar 11, 2023 05:44 AM
Kat Palmiotti

So true, Nina Hollander, Broker !

Mar 11, 2023 06:04 AM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Kat Palmiotti - There is nothing more frustrating than thinking you know where you stand with clients.  There have been a couple of times I have presented lots of homes to buyers who then want to take me out for a meal to never be heard from again.  I have talked with other agents who have said the same thing happen to them.  If a client wants to take you out for a meal, it is the kiss of death! (Of course, this does not apply to those who purchased a home with you!!" LOL

Mar 11, 2023 06:44 AM
Kat Palmiotti

haha, Sheri Sperry - MCNE® ! The few times I've been ghosted there was no food involved. At least you got a meal! hahaha.

Mar 11, 2023 07:39 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Kat, it is easy to "assume" different things about people and about transactions, and amazing to see how far off they can be.  Great post, good examples of why not to assume.

Mar 11, 2023 09:32 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you Joan Cox ! I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Mar 11, 2023 09:43 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much, Kat, for sharing your experience and your advice.

Have an outstanding weekend.

Mar 11, 2023 11:45 AM
Kat Palmiotti

The same to you Roy!

Mar 11, 2023 01:50 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Love this, Kat. Years ago, I had a manager who would remind us that to assume makes an A__ out of U and Me. We need to enter every transaction, engagement, and situation with open minds. 

Mar 11, 2023 02:07 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Kathy Streib - I've heard that saying also! And yes, open minds are the goal!

Mar 12, 2023 04:35 AM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Kat Palmiotti - Your first entry isn't just a good story, it is filled to capacity with BRILLIANCE! It's as good as a story submitted to Reader's Digest or a text book for real estate school. 

I learned long ago, never assume anything. But.... we are only human and sometimes we slip, make a sound, or use body language that others find offensive. Of course, we don't mean it, but we think it and it shows all over. Others see, think, and feel our reactions. Which leads me to wonder, are we people with magnetic personalities that causes people to click, stick, or separate? 

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for your first entry. It really was written with brilliance!

Mar 11, 2023 04:21 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP - you are too kind! And interesting question about magnetic personalities.. Have a great day!

Mar 12, 2023 04:36 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
Savvy + Company (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

Oh, this is priceless and definitely words for all agents to live by - NEVER assume how someone else feels, not how they are going to respond to any given situation. I think all good agents have lived through every experience you cited - and survived it, tucking one lesson for the future under their belts!

Thank you so much for sharing in this month's challenge - fantastic post, Kat!

Mar 11, 2023 07:59 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you Debe Maxwell, CRS !!!!

Mar 12, 2023 04:36 AM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Kat Palmiotti - Congratulations on a well-deserved FEATURE on ActiveRain!

Mar 12, 2023 07:37 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP - until I saw your comment I didn't know it was featured!

Thank you to the featurer!

Mar 12, 2023 07:38 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Good Sunday morning, Kat.

Have a great day and an outstanding week.

Mar 12, 2023 09:00 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you Roy - I wish you the same.

Mar 12, 2023 10:17 AM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Estate Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate

Hello Kat Palmiotti - Excellent entry to the March challenge.  Oh boy, those ASSumptions can create issues that are non-issues. I like the way you gave several examples of "assuming.  

Like you, I do not show or express emotions or feelings unless my clients ask. Even then, I get their thoughts and opinions first and respond to them.  

Thank you for participating in the March challenge.  I apologize for being late to the party. 

Congratulations on the Feature.  

Mar 12, 2023 11:37 AM
Kat Palmiotti

No apologies necessary Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist and thank you for your comment!

Mar 12, 2023 01:08 PM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Kat, it is funny how at times things look so clear, then you see a different side of things.

Mar 13, 2023 07:06 AM
Kat Palmiotti

So true Joan Cox !

Mar 13, 2023 08:18 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Kat:

Those were some valuable lessons, and a good reminder, about the importance of not making assumptions in our business...and knowing when to keep quiet despite what we might be feeling about the situation.


Mar 13, 2023 05:15 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you Jeff Dowler, CRS !

Mar 13, 2023 06:37 PM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate (435) 632-9374 - St. George, UT
St. George Utah Area Residential Sales Agent

You just don't know until you do, comes to mind, when reading your post, Kat. I have always kept in mind to avoid the ASSume thought process when with clients as well and learned from a young age that facts are what matter!

Mar 14, 2023 10:25 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Yes Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can! - facts are king!

Mar 14, 2023 12:37 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Kat Palmiotti ,

We all make assumptions but need to be careful and keep them to ourselves because we have all been in situations where we were surprised we were so off base! LOL! I agree with you the real takeaway (the how we can resolve the issue) is to never act on those assumptions! Well done..nice entry!

Mar 18, 2023 09:09 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you Dorie Dillard Austin TX - I apologize for the 10 day delay in responding - I just saw this!

Mar 28, 2023 10:03 AM
Ann Hayden 636-399-7544
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties-St. Louis Missouri - Des Peres, MO

Kat Palmiotti ,

Sometimes we  make assumptions without even realizing it.  Thank you for this informative and thought provoking post.  Great work!!

Mar 28, 2023 09:38 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Ann Hayden 636-399-7544 - and thank you for taking the time to read and comment!

Mar 28, 2023 10:03 AM