The Mother Nature Method of Negotiating in Phoenix Real Estate

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it and I shall move the world.” – Archimedes

“He’s making a [expletive] sweater here and I’m trying to put Tiger Balm on this jungle’s nuts.” – Cody, the special effects dude in Tropic Thunder

Those are two decided different views on what essentially is the same concept, wouldn’t you say? Power, leverage, the ability to bend something to your whim. One sought to use leverage to his advantage, the other just wanted to see how high the flames could go when he blew up the landscape.

Photo credit - chucklepix via Flickr Creative CommonsHere’s a picture of the Grand Canyon, created over millennia as the Colorado River eroded the land using gentle leverage over a period of time. Think you would be able to get the same effect with TNT? Me thinks not. Know what TNT really is effective at doing? Blowing things up.

Similarly, we could take a look at Monument Valley in Northern Arizona. Or the Petrified Forest or Painted Desert, both in northeastern Arizona. Two created by wind, the middle created by the consistent application of pressure on wood over time.

Or, for something completely different, you can look at Meteor Crater off Interstate 40 between Flagstaff and Holbrook. This landmark was created by a different type of leverage – namely, a meteor surviving a fiery plunge through the atmosphere, screaming through the sky and smashing into the ground at almost incomprehensible speeds.

Photo credit: Mike Salsbury via Flickr Creative CommonsDon’t get me wrong. Meteor Crater is an awesome sight in its own right – a large hole in the ground a mile across that has served as the staging grounds for the Apollo moon missions. But the effect’s just a wee bit different than what you see in the Grand Canyon. Just saying.

Many buyers, when they here that the Phoenix real estate market has become a buyers’ market by the numbers once again, approach the Valley in much the same way the meteor approached the northern Arizona landscape a few centuries ago – smoking hot and looking to pound a seller into submission in order to purchase the property they want.

Setting aside the fact you can’t race the sunset – that your successful lowball purchase becomes the new comp and lowers the market value surrounding you to your price as soon as you close escrow – this often is a case of useful leverage being grossly misapplied.

Sometimes, it’s better to apply the pressure and let it do its magic.

Here’s a fun fact … did you know in the movie Halloween, there isn’t any blood to speak of? John Carpenter applied the pressure – the assorted stabbings, etc. – but then let the pressure do its work on the audience’s imagination. It’s a cool concept.

One more example, going to a little inside baseball. One of the oldest closing techniques agents are taught, and one that has stood the test of time, is knowing when to shut the hell up and let the seller or buyer make up their own mind. Nature abhors a vacuum; human nature abhors silence and eventually will fill that silence with whatever a person things is necessary to make it end.

Silence has been the key to a pair of negotiations this month for two sets of Canadian buyers with whom I’m working. In one case, it took about two weeks for the offer made to be negotiated successfully. In the other, the silence only needed to last a day or so following a near-immediate response from the seller on the initial offer.  The key in both cases was letting the sellers wait, feel the pressure of a sluggish real estate market and realize it might be worth taking a little bit less than they wanted in the interest of being done and getting paid in a handful of weeks instead of months, if ever.

Sometimes in real estate you have to wait.

(There’s a similar theory regarding selling real estate which puts to bed one of the most idiotic arguments I’ve seen of late, that if you find your agent updating his or her Facebook status or posting once in a while on Twitter then he or she clearly is working hard enough to sell your home. Because as agents, we’re not permitted to eat, sleep, Tweet or Poke. We’re just that important in the professional food chain, akin to firemen, the police and the military. Yeah, whatever.)

So here’s the thing … if you’re heading down to the Phoenix real estate market with your hypothetical canister of napalm (hypothetical being the key word – you can’t even carry deodorant on an airplane these days) looking to cause some serious damage like the liars people you overheard at that cocktail party, so be it. But at the end of the day, you’ve got a better chance of doing little more than leaving a huge crater in your real estate plans.

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at

1 Comment

  • Heather Barr 7 years ago

    Nicely said! Good work with the metaphors, friend.

    Potential home buyers, Jonathan is 100% correct — hitting sellers with a sledgehammer rarely works to your advantage and usually just makes them resentful. Sellers feeling resentful are very unlikely to take your lowball offer. A little silence goes a long way.

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