Market Matters: When should I walk away from a deal?

Illustration by Muti

If clients are really on the fence,” says Comey & Shepherd agent Aaron Weiner, “I’ll ask them a question: ‘If this house were gone tomorrow, would you be upset, relieved, or indifferent?’ ” But once you get real, you have to set emotion aside and look at the cold, hard facts. “My job is to take some of the emotion out of the process,” says Weiner. “Not to be a buzz kill but just to say, ‘Hey, have you thought about this?’ ”

As a buyer, consider the things about a house that really bug you and remember, “You’re buying those problems,” says Weiner. If you’re thinking about something as a liability—termites, radon, knob-and-tube wiring—then you can bet that it will still be a liability when you’re on the other side of the table. And that might be a good reason to walk away.

Sellers, be wary of unusually demanding buyers. “Even if you give in to the demands now,” Weiner says, “are you going to be done with them or are you at risk in the future?” If you get a sense that an unsatisfied buyer might just needle you right into civil court, consider shutting it down. “Ultimately,” Weiner says, “if you’re on totally different planes in terms of price or inspection items, maybe it’s best to say, ‘This is the most I’ll do.’ ”

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