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Guest Post | Don’t Get Caught in the Middle of a Buyer’s Relationship

October 11, 2018

Don’t Get Caught in the Middle of a Buyer's RelationshipToday, please welcome Noelle Tarabulski from Builder Consulting Group to the Meredith Communications’ blog. She’s discussing disputes you might face during the home building process, especially marital disputes. It may feel overwhelming, and you might be confused on how to handle these situations, especially if it’s your first time. Read more below to check out one situation Noelle was involved in and how she handled it.

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By my count, there are over 150 ways to improve a home builder’s profit. This is just one.

In the world of home buying, not all disputes are with the builders. Sometimes arguments take place between the customers themselves, and the builder has to act as the referee.

Now it is not a builder’s job to provide free marriage counseling to get a home sold. But that is sometimes what it feels like. A home purchase transaction can be influenced by the deeper dynamics of a couple’s relationship. People who hate confrontation in the rest of their lives tend to avoid disagreeing with their partner’s choice of home. A good salesperson will know this and look for the signs.

Sometimes, when a couple is having problems in their relationship, they will try and have a baby to fix it. Other couples think buying a house together will fix the underlying problems in their relationship.  If this does not work, the stress of purchasing a new home can snowball into a hurricane of resentment and rage that the builder does not want to get caught in the middle of. Can you relate?

Let me tell you a little story.

Mike was a good-natured fellow in his sixties. He was of medium height, had lots of freckles, and a soft county Cork accent. His thinning red hair did not indicate his absolute determination to avoid conflict at any cost. In his way, Mike was like a golden retriever. All he wanted was to have everyone love him! While this can be a good quality in a dog, it can cause troubles for a home builder as we shall see.

“Noelle, I am a wee bit worried about my latest buyers,” Mike said to me one day.

“Really? I asked. “What seems to be the problem?”

“Well, they are a sweet young couple,” he said. “One is a doctor. The other a lawyer. But all they seem to want to do is fight about the house they are buying.”

“Are they fighting about the house or something else?” I inquired.

“It seems they lack harmony, but I have no idea,” Mike said. “Forgive me for asking. Usually, I would have burdened my dear departed for insights about these family matters…”

“I am sorry for your loss,” I said. “I didn’t know your wife had died.”

“She is not dead,” he said. “She ran away years ago with a lumber salesman. I was thinking of my Mother.”

“Ok. In any case, don’t get caught in the middle of a power struggle between the two,” I advised. “Wanna know what happens when people think their needs are being dismissed, disrespected or minimized? They get entrenched and oppositional!”

In a power struggle, the facts can become utterly secondary to the so-called ‘principle of the thing’. Once that happens, there’s almost no solution that will satisfy the person who feels their needs are being overlooked. But in the heat of battle, they may not even realize it. Many people caught in a power struggle can’t even see they are in one. This is where your observation of the dynamics is critical.”

The phone rang, and Mike picked it up. After a long conversation, he turned to me.

“Speak of the devil. You will never believe who that was,” said Mike hanging up the phone.

“The happy bride,” I said.

“Yes Indeed. The wife just called, and she wants the luxury upgrade package and custom tile. That is a $50,000 change order. When I asked to speak to the husband, she said that was impossible. He is on a two-week business trip. I better start writing up the order now.”

“Hold on. Sounds like she is playing a move on him. Did you get both of them to sign the purchase and sale agreement?” I asked.

“Yes. I insisted on it,” said Mike. “That is our policy due to earlier events in my career – not chancing that snake pit.”

“Good,’ I said. “Tell her you would love to make the changes, but since they both signed the purchase and sale agreement, you need his signature on the change order as well. You don’t want to get stiffed in this sale if they get in a huge fight that leads to divorce (been there done that).

Mike did as I suggested. Eventually, when the husband got home, the couple compromised and got the upgrade package, but not the custom tile. With Mike’s gentle guidance, they eventually moved into the house, and as far as I know, they are still living there today.

If both sides proceed mindfully and with the intention of peaceful resolution, some paths can lead to home ownership without destroying the relationship – and without one side being disgruntled and feeling their needs are not being met. We as salespeople and builders sometimes have to nudge powerful partners toward peace and harmony in their decision making.

The moral of this story is sometimes we are not just builders of homes, we are psychologists disguised as builders. If you have a tough situation, bring in your A team to move it to a close and a happy resolution. That is my story, and I am sticking to it.

About the Author – Noelle Tarabulski

Noelle HeadshotHome builders and developers are the backbones of this country. They work hard, take risks, and create more wealth for society than any other sector of the economy. Noelle Tarabulski has been a builder and developer, general management consultant, interim executive and coaches companies in best practices and continuous improvement. Her company is Denver based, Builder Consulting Group and she can be reached at 303.525.4944 or email me at noellet@buildertools.com. Check out her LinkedIn page here.


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