Dealing with buyer conflicts

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One of the issues I deal with periodically is “buyer conflict”.

By buyer conflict, I mean the situation where multiple buyers with whom we are working decide to offer on the same piece of property.

As you might imagine, this presents a problem: We always want to help our clients get what they want, and this is one of the few cases where we will definitely fail at least one client (since, by definition, only one can buy the property).

So, how do we handle these infrequent, but annoying, conflicts? About how you would expect – gingerly, and with focus on behaving ethically.

In general, we:

  1. Give priority to the first client who decides to offer on the property.
  2. Cooperate. Once an agent has offered for one client, if another of his/her clients wants to offer, I personally write the offer for the second client;
  3. Never disclose proprietary information from one client to another or one agent to another. So one client will never hear what the other client is bidding. And his agent won’t hear what the other client is bidding, either; and,
  4. Disclose, disclose, disclose. With the exception of proprietary information relating to competitive bids, we favor total transparency. So, if we’ve written for one client and another ends up wanting to write, we make sure both of them know we’re representing multiple clients.

Buying good deals is, almost by definition, a ruthlessly competitive business. We do our best to help our clients get what they want. And, in the rare cases when our clients want the same thing, we do our best to give them the best possible help/advice, so that the client who wants the property most ends up getting it.

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