'The trick to golf is to swing really, really hard.'
I make this joke every time I play golf. It's such an absurd statement that it always gets a good laugh from the rest of the foursome.
But as we wait to tee off, there will always be a guy on the first hole that: addresses the ball, brings the driver back with serious gumption, and tries to punish that poor little hunk of plastic like it stole his daughter's ice cream. At the very best, the ball will sail into the trees on the right. At worst, he misses it completely, curses, fakes an injury, goes to his bag and gets a different club, only to hit the next one into the trees on the right.
The real key to golf is to find the right amount strength to hit the ball straight first, then long. That always means not swinging as hard as you can. Having the finesse to hold off a little bit and connect square on the ball, keeping your head down, left arm straight, and all the other tips my dad has given me that I don't remember.
The same principle applies to real estate negotiations. Too many times I've found the perfect house for a great client, then we sit down to write an offer and they are determined to swing really hard. The home is listed at $420,000. So they want to offer $360,000, have the sellers build a new garage, and agree to walk their dog for a year. That might be a hyperbole, but not far off from some of the demands I've been asked to make.
The result is either:
we missed completely, or
sent the negotiations into the trees on the right.
For #1 - no counter offer comes. We have to go back to our golf bag and grab a different club.
For #2 - they counter back at $424,900, they promise to petition the neighbours to never let you build a garage, and they want us to feed rabbits to their snake for the next year. We've created so much hostility right off the bat that we're never going to reach a reasonable agreement.
In a real estate negotiation you need to find your maximum plausible position. That point where you will still be on the fairway but you've put some strength into it. You've used your market knowledge to finesse a good position where you're paying the lowest possible, yet still fair, price and your conditions are reasonable.
Look, I love negotiating. And I'm proud to say I've really fleeced some people on a few deals. But my job is to get you that house you just fell in love with. We're never going to get there if we don't start from the right place.