Seller’s unexpected offer

In hotel brokerage there are a few times when a seller offers their broker (me) a fee before you find the buyer.  This is always strange and unexpected, but I learned a long time ago to listen up when this happens.

Years ago, I was selling a 17-property hotel portfolio in the Midwest, and we were out there doing showings with a buyer. The seller asked to meet with us after the buyer left and he said something that I will never forget. He offers us (the brokers) a fee which was less than the fee we would have earned if the portfolio sold. I looked at him and ask why. He said because I don’t think you will be able to sell the whole portfolio. If I knew then what I know now, I would have responded very differently.

I thanked him for the offer but told him we were convinced we will sell the portfolio. Two things – (1) He was satisfying his conscience and (2) he was really telling us he had decided not to sell. I missed both points very poorly. What I should have said was “ok,” we will accept. He would then have been morally obligated to pay us the fee and we would have salvaged something out of the deal. When I turned down the offer, I inadvertently let him have a clear conscience by telling himself he had tried. Weeks later after several more trips to all 17 hotels which was a three day trip each time and countless hours of work, he tells us he has decided to just hold the hotels. He kept his hotels and we got nothing.

Something similar happened a few years ago and I missed it again when I should have read the meaning and just accepted. More recently I was selling a hotel in New Orleans and out of the blue, the seller calls me and asks that question. By this time, I had learned my lesson and I told the seller I would accept. This took him back because he wasn’t expecting me to accept but we will be paid almost as much as if we had sold the hotel.

The point is, people rarely ever come right out and tell you their real intentions. In the first story, if the seller had just said, “guys I have decided not to sell the hotels,” we would have accepted the offer and moved on. Instead, he made us the offer to clear his conscience and was no doubt glad I didn’t accept.

In life and business, listen to not just the words spoken but listen to the meaning behind them. KT

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *