How To Get An Edge When Buying A House

    

Couple looking at a beautiful house to buy.jpeg“The Chris Price” is how I got a 10% price reduction on shirts in an outlet mall after I was told there was no discount. It’s how I got a 20% discount on a cummerbund (I know it’s embarrassing that I even had to buy one) at a Joseph A. Banks after I was told there was no discount.

It’s how a high school buddy of mine (Brock Alter) got a huge discount at Macy’s (about 75%), and it’s how Eduardo (a student of mine at Georgetown) got a discount on a case of tequila at a liquor store!

It’s the counterintuitive application of what hostage negotiators use to keep hostages alive. Make sure the hostage taker knows the victim’s name. They will see them as a person and be less likely to harm them. It triggers what Brandon Voss has accurately defined as the process of “reverse empathy.”

 

The Reverse of Dale Carnegie – A 1st Name Can Be Closely Guarded

It’s also the reverse of the Dale Carnegie advice when you learn the other person’s name and then use it over and over on them. This is often so overdone that people feel clubbed with their own name. Yes, our name is precious to us – so that may often mean we are protective of it.

I once asked a DC Metro police officer his 1st name when he had me stopped for a moving violation. His answer: “Officer.”

 

Contextual Intelligence Is Part of Emotional Intelligence

The Black Swan Group teaches that to use it properly, you don’t ask for “The (your name) Discount” up front, but after you’ve been pleasant and even fun to deal with. After you’ve engaged respectfully in the interaction, and the person you’ve dealt with feels good about the interaction. You make the ask - then you use your name.

Brock tells me he uses it all the time with clerks and waitresses. If nothing else, they have fun when they deal with him and their day is that much better. It’s a way to make the world a little bit brighter place for the people you encounter.

It’s even how Harleen (a student at USC) got out of a ticket for riding her bike in a “no bike” zone – “The Harleen Warning.” (Note: She’d been very pleasant and understanding of the police officer’s job throughout the whole interaction.)

It’s harder for people to hurt you when they know your name. It’s also easier for people to be nice to you – to give you special consideration because they see you as a human being.

 

Getting An Edge Buying A House

Here’s how a colleague here in LA used it purchase a house (before he even knew about “The Chris Price”).

It’s a hot, seller’s market in LA. Houses are on the market for very short periods of time and ridiculously high prices. Often they are bid up over the listing price because there is so much demand. Anything under a million dollars is in a dodgy neighborhood many people would be dubious about living in. It’s insane.

My friend was searching for 8 months and got outbid on everything. He finally gets into a house as the 1st one to see it and makes an offer the same day (full price). Only this time, he writes a letter to the seller about himself and his fiancé. He tells them their plans for the future, for having a family and what they hope for from this home. They include a picture of themselves.

Not only do they get the house, but the seller also turns down subsequent higher offers to sell to them.

 

Success Is Not Perfection – It’s Raising Your Percentage

I relay this story to another top real estate agent in LA who specializes in high-end homes. She’s a superstar who knows her market and human nature, and she’s astounded. She has her buyers write letters on all the offers she makes. She couldn’t imagine not doing it.

Does it work every time? No. But why leave obvious advantages out of the process? (Her success ratio is very high by the way.)

The Black Swan Group has a rule – “Never be mean to someone who could hurt you by doing nothing.” If you think about this, it likely covers anyone you would be dealing with (that’s why you’re dealing with them). “Being mean” also includes indifference.

If this is true, then it’s also true that everyone you deal with could help you if they just felt like it. Empathy, tactical empathy, pleasant demeanor, and even “reverse empathy” will pay huge dividends for you.

Maybe even buy you a home.

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Chris Voss

About The Author

Christopher Voss is the CEO of The Black Swan Group, a firm that solves business negotiation problems with hostage negotiation strategies. Chris founded the Black Swan Group, in 2008 upon his retirement from the FBI where he was the FBI’s lead international kidnapping negotiator. Chris is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern California (USC) Marshall School of Business and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business where he teaches business negotiation in both M.B.A. programs.