Keeping Your Deals Together

Nearly every real estate pro has experienced a deal that unwound due to complexity or poor communication. While you can never be sure it won't happen, there are some steps you can take to minimize the chances of an agreement falling apart.

April 1, 2010

Losing deals hurts. It is frustrating, discouraging, maddening, and more. And as transactions become more complex and involve a growing number of players, it gets harder to complete deals.

Lenders are figuring out how to modify loans, handle short sales, and change underwriting standards. Some lenders care more, some less. Real estate professionals have little control over this.

There are things over which you have more control, and other things you control less. The key to keeping your deals together is to know the difference and work very hard to control the things you can.  

The following is based on feedback from thousands of practitioners across North America who contacted me by e-mail and through social media. In all of their comments, one theme stands out clearly: control.


Deals stay together when one real estate pro takes control and accepts responsibility for managing, supervising, and directing every aspect of the transaction. Behave as if you are the only one keeping everyone informed. As if it is your job. If you don’t do it, no one will. Work by the motto: “If it is to be, it is up to me.”  

This approach is not for the real estate professional’s benefit or ego. It is completely for the client’s benefit. Your clients want you in control.


The key to control is communication. Communicate clearly and consistently with clients as you prepare them for the experience of buying or selling, including potential glitches. Then, communicate regularly throughout the process as you keep them informed on progress and help them navigate any glitches. Communicate clearly and consistently with other agents, the lenders, inspectors, and everyone else involved in the transaction.

As David Kral of Spokane, Wash., wrote, “The number-one rule for success in keeping transactions together is to form a strong sense of ‘we're in this together’ with the other agent.”

Take Your Chances

There are three chances during any transaction in which the practitioner can exercise the kind of control through communication that helps keep a deal together:

Your Extended ‘Team’

Real estate pros will encounter the same appraisers, inspectors, and lenders many times in their career. Creating relationships of cooperation and trust in advance keeps many deals together. When you encounter a first-class professional in another field for the first time, it’s worthwhile to establish a lasting relationship.

“Having a good, trustworthy team of people you work with, lawyers, mortgage brokers, inspectors, etc., is very important. They can make or break the deal and your reputation!” wrote Pam Haberek of Rochester, N.Y. Cathy McWilliams of Canandaigua, N.Y., added, “Have three attorneys, three inspectors, and three lenders, etc., who are all easy to work with and are not ‘deal killers’ ready to recommend.”

Time Kills

Contrary to the old saying, time is not on your side. Roger Lundell, Buckhannon, W.V., wrote, “In my 20 years of real estate, I have found that, everything else being equal, time is your enemy — get it done as fast as possible and do not be afraid to push a little. Time kills the deal. Let’s face it. When the buyer or seller has time, worries, remorse, and fear all grow.”

The key to success in any endeavor is consistent hard work and attention to detail. There is no magic formula for keeping your deals together. Instead, there is the decision to take responsibility for every aspect of the transaction, organizing to communicate honestly, clearly, and consistently, and establishing healthy working relationships with everyone involved.  

Good luck with your future transactions!

  1. At the initial presentation, listing appointment, or buyer presentation: You can review the process in detail, preparing the buyer or seller for every eventuality.
  2. At the offer writing with the buyer or offer presentation with the seller: You can review the process from that point forward, preparing clients for every eventuality. At this stage, you can also begin to establish that strong relationship of cooperation with the other agent.
  3. During the pending process: You should be in constant communication, setting expectations, preparing, handholding, and reinforcing — in other words, controlling the experience of the client. In addition, you can establish a relationship of cooperation with all the support professionals, inspectors, mortgage originator, processor, attorney, title company, and any other parties that affect the transaction.
  4. Practitioners say preparation through communication is key. Doug Rosner, South Lake Tahoe, Calif., wrote, “A prepared principal is a ready, willing, and able principal. An unprepared principal is a time bomb waiting to explode.” Mike Barbalato, Sarasota, Fla., wrote, “When the buyer or seller doesn’t anticipate the next step … remorse and fear set in. Remorse and fear are what delay closings and kill deals.”

Rich Levin is a national real estate speaker and sales coach. His company, Rich Levin's Success Corps Inc., Rochester, N.Y., takes a "whole business approach" to coaching, focusing not only on essential sales skills such as presenting and prospecting, but also quality of life and personal finance. Contact Levin at 585-244-2700 or