156 Hamilton St., Leominster, MA

You’re sitting across from a prospect, just about to pop the question. You take a deep breath as he looks over the paperwork. Silently, you curl your toes under the desk as you do everything in your power to appear calm and collected; the client must not know how much this listing means to your family. As if in slow motion, just before the words, “Are you ready to sign,” can form themselves in a nonchalant manner and burst from your lips, it happens. Mr. Quibble stabs at the contract, placing the tip of his fountain pen on your listed rate of commission. “Now, let me ask you this,” he blusters authoritatively. “Are you willing to come down from your rate of commission to make this deal?” Pause the tape.

This one question is the deal-breaker. Answer it correctly, and you win; not only at this particular contract table, but also at the entire real estate game. Answer it wrong, and you can kiss your dreams of success as a real estate agent goodbye. So, let’s cut to the chase. What is the correct answer? It is, and almost ALWAYS shall be, “No, that’s a flat rate. Do you have any other questions?” Trouble is, in this case, you are dealing with Mr. Al Dicker N. Quibble, the cheapest, most argumentative haggler ever to darken the doors of a business establishment. It’s not just you; Mr. Quibble likes to find a deal where ever he goes. Wal-mart clerks groan when they see him approaching, anxious to prove why he deserves a discount on fountain pens. Car salesmen dissolve into tears over their vanished commission checks after he leaves the car lot grinning triumphantly. Now he’s staring you down, sizing you up, and searching for the tiniest crack in your resolve.

Can you stick to your guns? You can. You must; not only for your own sake, but also for Mr. Quibble. If he asks, “Why?” Here are six good reasons. 7 “Because I am a professional, not a street market vendor.” Do professionals allow clients to haggle over the costs of their services? Don’t try it with your attorney or physician. As a professional real estate agent, you should be working to build expertise and quality service. If you are, then you shouldn’t allow your business to be treated like a used car lot. Commission negotiation should be a nonissue. “Because if I do, selling your home will become less of a priority.” It’s just human nature: if you have two listings, one of them discounted and one at full commission, when your mortgage and car payments come due, it’s only natural you’ll show the home that’s listed at full commission. “Because success for both of us hinges on my staying upbeat.” In the real estate game, enthusiasm and confidence are indispensable.

There’s nothing as discouraging as losing big on an important deal, especially when it has the potential to set a precedent. If you ever open the door to cutting commission, it will be twice as hard to stand firm the next time you go up against a tough customer. Consider it practice for negotiating the best deal for Mr. Quibble from the buyer. If you can’t even negotiate your own rate, how can the client expect you to swing him a deal at the negotiating table? “Because I don’t have time to evaluate my rates on a case-by-case basis.” Once you begin allowing certain clients lower commission rates, each prospective client becomes a potential recipient of your “generosity” should you be so persuaded. Even if you only lower your rates for friends and “hard luck” cases, the bottom line is that now you must decide which clients deserve a lower rate. What happens when your annoying cousin thinks you’ll lower her cost like you did for her brother, but instead you choose to charge full commission?

The added stress over strained relationships due to your perceived partiality is not worth it. “Because you need me to set the pace.” When you give in to a client’s request to come off your set commission, you are putting him in the driver’s seat. Now, he’s much less likely to yield to your caution about overpricing his house. That translates into longer time sitting on the market. “Because I’m not THAT desperate.” If you regularly work at lead generation, you won’t be at the mercy of “Mr. Quibble” types. So what if Mr. Quibble doesn’t sign? Do you really think a cut-rate commission could be worth trying to placate his every whim? Spend your time generating quality leads. Don’t stress over your commission. Use your energy developing your expertise, and let the Quibbles and chips fall where they may.