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The following information is provided by the Center for REALTOR® Development, with assistance from Lauren Hampton and the Podfly editorial team.

Negotiations are a crucial part of all real estate transactions. Improving your negotiating skills is the topic for CRD podcast Episode 6. In this episode, guest Darren Kittleson joins our host Monica Neubauer to help define what a win-win transaction looks like—and how to achieve one.

Kittleson has been in the real estate industry since 1994. He is the operating principal of two Keller Williams offices in Madison, Wis. In addition to his work as an agent, he has participated in Association Leadership, and serves as a trainer, speaker and coach for real estate agents across the nation.

Approach Negotiations Like a Child
Kittleson begins the conversation by pointing out that we negotiate far more often in our lives than we realize. As kids, this is something many people do naturally, but somewhere along the line, we lose that natural ability, or it is “trained” out of us. Approaching negotiation with the attitude and wonder of a child may lead to surprising outcomes, and allows you to hone your skills as a professional negotiator.

“Go back and approach negotiation with the attitude of a four- or five-year-old; you’ll be surprised at the outcomes you get,” says Kittleson.

Like a child, just ask! The worst thing that can happen is someone says no. Kittleson suggests negotiating on a daily basis to practice the skill, so it’s there when you need it in a real estate transaction.

Strive for the Win-Win
Negotiations are not always about price—there are other terms and conditions that can be negotiated to get the best outcome for your client. Some of these include the timing of the sale and making sure the right offer will close or appraise. Kittleson refers to these as strategies of the transaction, and urges you to make sure that, as a REALTOR®, you consider all the factors that could help your client.

Most people want to have a win-win situation in real estate transactions. While there are some agents that think they have to have a win-lose outcome, everyone will benefit for future transactions by striving for a win-win. This starts by setting expectations with clients—letting them know that your goal is to negotiate a win-win so they understand your discussions and the decisions you make together.

Start the Conversation
As agents, it’s important to be involved with other agents in your market. Building connections and rapport with other agents can help get better outcomes for both sets of clients.

One of the best strategies that an agent has is to get in touch with the agent on the other side before the transaction gets started; they may be able to provide information or terms and conditions that would be helpful to know upfront. Knowing everyone’s key terms upfront is helpful, because while they could be a non-issue on your side, they could be the selling point that makes it a win for the other side.

Set Down the Devices
How does technology play into real estate transactions? Kittleson discusses the effectiveness in communication methods and how one study showed that the greatest accuracy of feeling and intent comes from body language and tonality—aspects you can only gauge in a face-to-face or voice-to-voice interaction.

With text or email, there is an archive of what was said or what exchanges were made. This can be a benefit or a disadvantage, depending on the situation. With access to only the words, however, you may not get the full meaning behind the message. Communicating voice-to-voice will be more effective in setting up the relationship for a win-win transaction.

Set Expectations
Educate your clients right from the start! Proactively setting the stage for negotiations from the beginning can make a transaction much smoother, because people will know what to expect. The education process should continue throughout the transaction, and it’s important to take the opportunity to have teachable moments. As agents, you can be more effective if your client is educated and aware of what is going on in the negotiation. This can help grow your own business if your clients refer you to their friends or family.

To learn much more about negotiating and how to elevate and enhance your negotiation skills, please consider checking out the education, benefits and resources offered by the RENE Certification. This entire month of December, the featured 25% OFF course at the Center for REALTOR® Development is the Real Estate Negotiation Expert (RENE) Certification course, which is the basic requirement toward obtaining the RENE Certification.

Our monthly podcast focuses on education in the real estate industry. It addresses formal education programs (such as those from NAR) and informal sources of industry knowledge (such as peers and mentors). Its intended audiences include REALTORS®, real estate professionals, allied professions (such as appraisers and lenders), educators, education providers, and consumers. To listen or subscribe, visit

For more information, please visit RISMedia’s online learning portal from NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Development (CRD) and the Learning Library. Here, real estate professionals can sign up for online professional development courses, industry designations, certifications, CE credits, Code of Ethics programs and more. NAR’s CRD also offers monthly specials and important education updates. New users will need to register for an account.

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