Austin TX Real Estate - Hill Country Austin Lakeway Homes for Sale: Do Buyers' Agents Actually Explain Negotiations to Their Buyers?

Do Buyers' Agents Actually Explain Negotiations to Their Buyers?

I sometimes wonder is Buyers' agent actually explain things to their buyers in terms that they'll understand.  If they do, why do so many things happen that don't make sense.

My latest example is this:  I have a listing under contract. The buyer did their inspections and presented an amendment to the contract.  My sellers countered back. 

The counter included agreeing to one repair, giving the buyer a $500 repair escrow, and leaving the $1200 fridge that is barely 2 years old.

When I presented the fridge, I reminded the agent to let the buyers know that if they feel they don't have a need for the fridge, they could always sell it on Craigslist or at a garage sale and probably get a good $500-700 for it, but we were neither doing nor compensating for any other repairs on a house that had been completely updated and was a great deal.  The sellers didn't want to move the fridge out of state so leaving it was no big deal.

The agent kept telling me they agreed to our counter, but were thinking about the fridge.  What's there to think about?  I got an email saying I would get the amendment "today". Then the next day, I was told I would get the amendment "today".

I called the mortgage person the next day and asked if he had heard from his buyers and if he knew if they were moving forward or not as that day was the last day of the option period.  The mortgage guy said he was told the buyers were signing the final amendment and I would get it "today".

I finally got it on Friday.  I read it to make sure everything was on there that we discussed.  I get down to the special provisions section and it says "Seller to remove the fridge."  Huh?  Why do the buyers want the fridge removed?  It's a nice fridge and they could easily get more of their "high estimate repairs" completed with the money they would get.

I called the sellers to let them know I was sending the amendment for them to sign. I told them the buyers didn't want the fridge.  They were as confused as I was. The buyers basically forfeited a few hundred dollars back to my sellers, so the sellers can now sell the fridge and make back the $500 escrow they agreed to along with the small repair, and get out of there with nothing extra out of pocket.

Did the buyers' agent actually explain this to his buyers?  It makes me wonder how things get lost in translation like that...  Maybe I wasn't speaking English?

Comment balloon 50 commentsDonna Harris • November 17 2008 09:50PM


More than 1/2 of the problems in a transaction stem from poor communication by the buyer & their agent, at least for me. So annoying.

Posted by Greg Nino, Houston, Texas (RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP) over 10 years ago

Perhaps if they had actually thought it out, they would have accepted the deal as you presented it, now their at a loss - and maybe don't even realize it. -Jim

Posted by Jim Albano, Team - Jean-Marie Vantuno / Realtors North Jersey Real Estate (Prudential Damiano Realty ) over 10 years ago

Poor communication occures both with buyer and their agents and sellers and their agents -- we forget that it is important to look at the interests of our clients and not make statements like "my seller would NEVER agree to X! 

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 10 years ago

I find that it works both ways.  Most Buyer Agents don't really know what they are doing and will just listen to what their buyers tell them to do without giving them any advice.  Obviosly that is what happened in this case with you.  I also find Selling Agents who are so afraid of their Sellers that they will not explain reasons why a Buyer might be doing what they are doing or offering what they are offering.  For instance, we are mostly Buyers Agents in my office.  Whenever we are going to make an offer, we do comps on the property and most of the time we will write the offer based on the comps.  Most Listing Agents list properties at the value that Seller tells them to list it verse the actual value of the property.  The Listing Agent is only interested in getting the listing.  Now when the offer comes in from our Agent, the selling Agent has to now be honest with the value of the property and then the seller gets upset that the Selling Agent didn't do their job.  Or worse, the selling Agent tells the seller that the offer is horrible because if they don't they would be admitting they weren't upfront and honest at the beginning.

In the end, good agents will do the right thing.  We turn down 9 out of 10 listings right now because we refuse to list properties unless they are listed at or below current market values.  It does us no good to take listings that will sit on the market until our listing expires. 

Posted by Mitch Ribak (Mitch Ribak - The Real Estate Success Network) over 10 years ago

I'm not sure if it could be bad translation. Some buyers just dont want the hassle of having to move the fridge, or even having to put it up on Craigslist. It's good for your Sellers. They pocketed a few hundred bucks and now will have another family who can enjoy it for very little money. All around a good thing - the way I look at it.

Posted by Loreena and Michael Yeo, Real Estate Agents (3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co.) over 10 years ago

Well good for your seller. If the buyer's agent doesn't understand so in turn can't explain the benefits of the terms, so be it.

Posted by LS Rogers Realty (LS Rogers Realty) over 10 years ago

Sometimes you just have to wonder what people are thinking!  I would have kept it to have a second one available...if they really didn't want it they could have donated it to a charity as well.  I guess sometimes people think it's just more of a hassle. 

Posted by Joddie Roberts, Your Spokane Realtor - Spokane, WA (Mountain Real Estate and Property Management) over 10 years ago

Donna:  You just need to face the facts, woman.  Not all Realtors are as sharp as those of us at RE/MAX... LOL.

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 10 years ago

If I was the agent I would have told them to go ahead and let the fridge stay that I would move it out  then sold or given the fridge away.

Posted by Crystal Ledbetter (Texas Home Group) over 10 years ago

Well, what a waste for the buyers if they didn't read what they signed.  IF they did, then they did make their decision.  Some people just want it EASY and someone else to do the work. 

Posted by Terrylynn Fisher, HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CSP Realtor, Etc. (Dudum Real Estate Group - over 10 years ago

Sometimes it's just inconvenience. I've generally found that trying to sell a big item, especially something like a refrigerator which can be somewhat personal due to one's own idiosyncracies, is a hassle that often is not worth it. It could be a $5,000 refrigerator that is 30 days old, but if it's not the kind I want as far as design goes (top refrigerator, bottom freezer, exterior water and ice maker, I don't want it and I sure don't want the inconvenience of trying to sell it.

Posted by Not a real person over 10 years ago

Good post. I agree good communication is important. I agree with Russel's comments.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) over 10 years ago

Greg, Exactly!

Jim, I know, right?!

Joan, I agree.

Mitch, I turn down just about the same as I don't have the time to market overpriced listings.

Loreena, If they don't want the hassel, that's fine, but they should have countered the value of the fridge and not left hundreds of dollars on the table.  Don't you see the difference?

Trunda, Yep!

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 10 years ago

Joddie, I know!  Everyone needs a second fridge for the garage!

Karen, Exactly!

Crystal, Good idea. That's how I got my kitchen table!

Terrylyn, but what about the money they left with having someone else do the work?

Russell, Again, it's not like they had to have it in the kitchen.  Who doesn't need an extra garage fridge these days? The garage is oversized with a huge area for storage and an extra fridge.

Gita, See Russell's answer above.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 10 years ago

The answer in a nut shell is NO, I don't think Buyer Agents explain it to them. What to do? Not much. Just remove the darn thing and pocket the money.

Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) over 10 years ago

Even in harder economic times some transactions show clearly when buying a home, it is to be perfect, no work, move in condition, for a bargain price. The effort to get rid of a good refrigerator was obviously perceived as a nuisance.

Posted by Mary Strang over 10 years ago

I guess a $1200 refrigerator is now a nuisance item? Probably not 'stainless'. I don't think that some buyers agents do explain a counter.  I think they 'filter' it depending on the outcome 'they' want in the transaction. 

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg IL Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) over 10 years ago

Very good post. I feel that it is very important NOT to talk in negotiations and just rely on the written responses.

I feel that some agents try and "control" the transaction, instead of giving their clients the facts. If the buyers agents wanted to make a smooth transaction on this deal, maybe he should have listed the refrigerator on Craigslist and gave the money to the buyers at closing. Take some stress of his clients and yours, in an already stressful situation.

Posted by Theresa Prim, Searching. Sharing. Serving. (Century 21 Affiliated) over 10 years ago

I would have taken the fridge and stored in my garage for another client.They are idiots.

Posted by DeAndrea "Dee Dee" Jones, The NorthernVARealEstateLady & DMVRealEstateChick (Home Buyers Marketing II, Inc.) over 10 years ago

I don't understand why the buyer's agent didn't stay in contact with you and verbally explain what was going to happen prior to you first seeing this in writing.  The buyer's actions seem odd, but there might be a perfectly good reason.  For example, they might have a tight timeframe and don't want the hassle of selling the fridge themselves. 

Posted by Gail Robinson, CRS, GRI, e-PRO Fairfield County, CT (William Raveis Real Estate) over 10 years ago

I don't understand why the buyer's agent didn't stay in contact with you and verbally explain what was going to happen prior to you first seeing this in writing.  The buyer's actions seem odd, but there might be a perfectly good reason.  For example, they might have a tight timeframe and don't want the hassle of selling the fridge themselves. 

Posted by Gail Robinson, CRS, GRI, e-PRO Fairfield County, CT (William Raveis Real Estate) over 10 years ago

Missy, And I even explained it to the agent and I don't think he got it.  It'll be moved out next week.

Mary, But shouldn't they have countered the value to see if my sellers would compensate instead of just giving the money back?

Lyn, I think you're right!

Theresa, That's an interesting idea.

DeeDee, That's something I would have done, but since I'm moving, I don't have room for it.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 10 years ago

Perhaps they did not want the fridge, and did not want to bother trying to sell it or get rid of it, it can be aggrevating.  I had an older truck once, I bought a new one, considered selling it but it sat in my driveway for months.  I finally ended up just giving it away to a person that needed a car.  I told them pick it up withing 24 hours its yours.  He showed up and got a 1991 S-10 for free (and to this day, it still runs!). 

Why, I did not need the truck, did not want the truck, and the hassle of selling the truck was not worth it to me.  Had he of not shown it it would have went to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.  I've had buyers insist that perfectly good framed in above groud pools be removed.  New hottubs be removed, and yes, appliances be removed. 

Posted by Chad Baird (Re/Max Spirit) over 10 years ago

It sounds like there was a lot of down right confusion going on in the discussion.  Maybe only a piece of your discussion was passed on to the buyers?

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) over 10 years ago

Gail, Possibly...

Chad, But again, why wouldn't they ask for more compensation rather than just giving it up?

Christine, I think so too.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 10 years ago

Donna - People do the strangest things...  It doesn't make any sense to me either.

Posted by Debbie Summers (Charles Rutenberg Realty ) over 10 years ago

Personally I find the remarks about Buyer Agents not knowing what they are doing to be disturbing, in so far as we have seen many agents on both sides of the deal that dont know what tehy are doing... no more so on buyers sides than on sellers side...

Good agents are good agents, and there are bad ones..

That said, we have had many instances where buyers did not want applinaces from the previous owners... for many reasons... and for certain, many of our buyers would not want the hassle of moving it and selling it online...

But we would of course come back with a counter for the value, if that was something that was going to work... in many instances seller's dont want the appliances, and would prefer to leave them with the buyer... they dont view them as of any value, and many deals do not result in any value being transfered due to the appliances being left or not... sort fo goes like this: if you want them fine, if not, we will dispose of them... no cash back for them, etc.

But I do think that people in glass houses should not throw stones... and the criticism of buyers agents in general is also applicable to listing agents (witness the vast numbers of agents listing short sales and foreclosed properties that have to rely on third parties to actually deal with the lenders and closings... these agents should not be dealing with these things if they dont know how... )

Anyway, interesting topic, getting responses that are also interesting.

Posted by Paul Silver, Rhode Island full service real estate firm over 10 years ago

Good morning Donna!

To put it in a Texas term - some people was just really thick-headed!  That goes for agents as well as others.  It is impossible to figure out what some people are thinking (or why they are NOT thinking).  That is why we need to ask questions - it doesn't matter which side you are working with - ask and then listen.  Could be that the buyer or seller is just overwhelmed with the whole event and just needed someone to point out the possibilities.  Sounds like this might be what happened with these buyers.

PS - Born and raised in Texas but call Colorado home now...

Posted by Eileen Liles, Macht-Liles Real Estate Group - Cedaredge, CO (970-216-0530 over 10 years ago

It sounds like the original counter offer was made without confidence, perhaps it was made as a posture of "tough negotiaition" at the suggestion of the Buyer's Agent. Your strong response which indicated that no concessions would be made likely scared the Buyer and they reduced their demands which it appears you were willing to accept.

On the other hand perhaps all the Buyer really wanted was the repair and the $500. They asked for more and got what they wanted.

Posted by Ihor Zalubniak (Keller Williams Results Realty) over 10 years ago

Answer to your question: 

Because you told them that no other repairs or compensation would be made.  The buyers agent felt that the end of negotions on the seller side were likely done, push the seller once more, the whole deal may collapse.  He/she belived you.  Would you client have given more if the buyer agent countered based on not wanting the fridge? 

I advise my buyers when its time to accept; Want to take it one more step, we may lose the entire deal.  Thats not a good thing for either side. 

So now your seller gets to sell the fridge (or likely have their agent sell the fridge). 




Posted by Chad Baird (Re/Max Spirit) over 10 years ago

Seems to me, as a Buyers Broker, that the buyers probably had their own reasons for doing what they did.  Makes perfect sense to me.

1.  They may consider selling a used frig. a pain in the butt.  I would agree. 

2.  The seller can now do what they wish with the used frig as long as they have it out of the buyers' way prior to settlement.

3.  Sometimes folks time is more important than a few hundred dollars.  Keeping a transaction simple has it's merits. 

4.  Seems to me that trying to force a buyer to take a frig that they neither want nor need and don't want to bother with is risking the contract.

Unless the listing agent is present during all conversation between the buyer and their agent, one need not assume that the buyers agent is doing something wrong. 

If the seller agreed to remove the frig, just make sure it's done. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 10 years ago

Debbie, Good to know I'm not the only one.

Focus, Did I say they didn't know what they were doing?  I asked if they explained things in terms that the buyers understand.

Eileen, But did their agent point out the possibilities?  He hasn't acknowledged that to me. He just said they don't want it. I wasn't going to volunteer money from the seller though the sellers and I already discussed that and they were willing to accept a cash value counter.

Ihor, You might be right.  Plus, I am a tough negotiator.

Chad, Actually, I had already prepared my sellers with a cash value counter.  They had a friend who wanted to buy it, but I thought we could use it as leverage.  It worked and the friend still gets to buy it.

Lenn, I never said something was wrong. I just asked a simple question on whether or not agents exlpain things to their clients because sometimes their decisions don't make sense.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 10 years ago

For some people the pita factor means a lot more than the money. I know a builder that will demolish a house, barn, and workshop next year to make room for the new developement. Trying to move them is more trouble than it's worth.  Guess the Buyers felt the same. 

Your Seller gets to pocket another $500.  Sounds like a happy ending to me.

Posted by Bob Anderson (Remax Jazz Inc.) over 10 years ago

Donna ... thanks for sharing your experience here about whether negotiations were explained by the buyer agent. It doesn't look like the buyers' agent actually read the contract and proposed counter. Best wishes. Harrison

Posted by Harrison K. Long, REALTOR , GRI, Broker associate, Attorney (HomeSmart, Evergreen Realty) over 10 years ago

So as I suspected, you not only sold real estate, you also brokered a deal for a fridge.  The buyer is happy, the seller is happy.  So let me ask you this if I may. 

Had you of been representing the buyer as opposed to the seller.  Knowing that no party really wants to deal with an extra fridge, would you have pushed the seller for more escrow monies for additional repairs? 

Posted by Chad Baird (Re/Max Spirit) over 10 years ago

It doesn't sound like the buyers agent was communicating witht the buyers.  The buyers could have been leary of messing with the frig too.  Sometimes people are very low tech and want to be hassle free when it comes to stuff like that.  I hope your sellers sold the frig and got at least $500!!

Posted by Susan Manning (Realty Executives) over 10 years ago

Bob, Yes, it'll be a happy ending once it closes.

Harrison, Yeah, some agents thing they just need to hit the forward button, and not actually discuss paperwork they're sending.

Chad, I'm a Jack of all trades!  And Yes, if I had the buyer, I would have asked for some of the value.  I presented the fridge as something that the buyer would probably sell for $500-700 if they didn't want it.  If I was told that, and my buyers didn't want the fridge, I would have countered back saying the sellers can go ahead and sell it for the $500-700 and we'll take the lower estimated value, to put a total of $1000 in escrow for the repairs.  As I mentioned, I had already prepared my sellers for a response like that, so we were ready for it, and it was just icing on the cake when they didn't do that.  Just like if I had the buyers and we really only need $500 for repairs, we ask for $800-1000 in order to get the $500 as I prepare my buyers for a counter somewhere in the middle.  Better negotiators will usually counter higher than the middle in order to not give the other party room to counter back without being petty.

Susan, They'll be in town this weekend to sell it to their friend.  Not sure of the amount, but anything over free is good.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 10 years ago


Communication is the key here!  In my experience not all Realtors are great listeners.  A lot of agents in my area have these big egos and want to have the last word.  I had this happen in the past and sometimes you'll just be dealing with that agent who needs to think that they "won" on the deal.  I pass this info along to my sellers/buyers before hand that a lot of negotiations have to do with psychology - and letting the other party have the last word lets them think that they have won.  I might have given them the choice to either keep the fridge or we will remove it.  At that point, the buyer would have had the last word and they "win" in a sense (in their mind) without us giving up anything extra.

Good post!

Posted by Adam Anderson (Northwood Realty) over 10 years ago

We'll assume that I'm the buyers agent for this. 

We have been negotiating the deal.  You (the listing agent) has now told me that your client will not pay for any more repairs and we can have the fridge.  My buyers do not want the fridge, have no use for the fridge, and I (as their agent) i'm not getting rid of a fridge. 

I (as the buyers agent) am not privy to your clients thinking, much like you and your clients are not privy to my clients thinking.  All I know is my client wants this house, they do not want a fridge.  What we do not know is that your client is willing to sell the fridge and give us the proceeds, but you as the listing agent has already told us this is the final offer.  My buyer and I decide we pushed the seller enough, and accept. 

You can't say that the buyers agent was not doing his job though.  The agent put the deal together.  I would have done the same, and I would have not have offered to find a buyer for the fridge.  I would have asked in the contract that it be removed also.  I'm not in the business of selling appliances or relocating them as well.  Im in the business if brokering Real Estate deals. 

Posted by Chad Baird (Re/Max Spirit) over 10 years ago

Adam, You're very right.  You can always sense in a deal who needs to have the last word.

Chad, Keep in mind that every counter should be presented as "the final".  I never once said in my counter this is "the final". That should always be a given. Even when people present to me that their offer or counter is a final, that means nothing.  Kinda like when people put a date in a contract for a response.  In Texas, this is considered practicing law, and dates are not "allowed" to be put in the contract like that, but many still do it.  Even with the date, if you go past the date, it's always up to the other party to accept, reject, or counter.  But for the record, I do see your point.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 10 years ago

Donna - I can't speak for the other agent or their client but I can tell you we recently negotiated an old deep freeze out of a transaction during the repair negotiations. The Seller thought it was a great freezer and surely there must be some value for the Buyer.

Sure, the Buyer could have sold it on craigslist, but they didn't want to worry about hauling it up the stairs or having someone else haul it out after closing. Our contract reads that any property damage from moving out is to be repaired at the Seller's expense.

The $300 the Buyer might have made from keeping and selling the appliance was just not worth the hassle to this first time homebuying couple. (There was also an old tub in the yard we had the Seller remove. It was being used as some sort of a planter or garden fixture that my Buyers also did not want to have to worry about hauling off or trying to "sell".)

We, of course, got everything in writing the same day. So I can't help you out there either.

Posted by Benjamin Clark, Buyer's Agent - Certified Negotiation Expert (Homebuyer Representation, Inc.) over 10 years ago

You never know what will push someones botton.  As long as your sellers are OK with it and the deal stays together it does not matter in the end.

Posted by Scott Guay, Associate Broker. Ocean City and Ocean Pines MD (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services PenFed Realty) over 10 years ago

Benjamin, That's great you wrote about any damage being caused.  And same day results?  I always try for that, but usually only happens when I have both sides.

Scott, Yep, we're alll good, just confused, but all good.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 10 years ago

Yup, I do see your point. Again, some people have no patience for negotiation. I've met some clients like that. It's not worth it to them.

Posted by Loreena and Michael Yeo, Real Estate Agents (3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co.) over 10 years ago

Loreena, True.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 10 years ago

Sounds like the agent may have not communicated this with his/her buyers unless the buyers didn't want to be stuck with a fridge to sell.  People can be so quirky about things sometimes.

Posted by Patricia Beck, Colorado Springs Realty (RE/MAX Properties, Inc., GRI, CDPE) over 10 years ago

Patricia, Quirky is a nice word for many people.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 10 years ago

All good comments, but I agree with Ihor.

Posted by Sara Davalos, Real Estate Consultant in Miami (Realty World REC) over 10 years ago

I can think of people who just couldn't be bothered with the steps involved to sell the refrigerator... You are moving - perhaps relocating - starting a new job ... and may know absolutely nothing about Craigslist - etc. etc. I know for most of us it seems incredulous but then diversity is one of the reasons I love this industry... 

Posted by Heather Lord, (The Boulevard Company) over 10 years ago

It doesn't surprise me, as the saying goes it takes all kinds to make the world go around and in 3.5 years of being a realtor I have seen people do the craziest things! Better for your seller thats what counts.

Posted by Buffy Creekmore, E-Pro Broker in Lexington Tennessee (Coldwell Banker McKee Realty) over 10 years ago