Negotiation

Ninety two contentious minutes into a 90 minute contest, the pitch is littered with casualties. Spent forwards, midfielders and fullbacks slogging wearily through stoppage time. Lungs seared from fruitless forays into the opposing half of the field, calves and hamstrings cramping from dehydration, members of both squads looking to the official for mercy.

Stop the game already, their eyes plead. In their weakened states, they are satisfied with a draw. Nil-nil. No glory, but no shame either. Just end this madness and take away the pain.

Not me. I play this game to win. Always. Fighting through elbows and spikes-up challenges all afternoon, I await my chance. That one bounce of the ball that will loose me. A coiled spring, all I need is one step and I’m gone. The jamoke trying to defend me does not have a prayer. Just let the ball squirt free along this right sideline. Just once.

And then it happens.

A poor touch by the center midfielder and the shining sphere of possibility bounces my way. Twenty yards in front of me with no defender in sight, the ball urges speed into my heavy legs. My shadow senses the moment, too. It’s a footrace.

Not feeling the handful of jersey being tugged from behind, ignoring the attempts to ensnare my feet, I rocket past my rival. He might as well be dipped in lead and cast in stone. Are my feet even touching the ground?

By the time I reach my quarry, I’ve built a full head of steam. The sweeper is running headlong towards me, but his is a fool’s errand. Lothar Matteus himself stands no chance at this very moment. A quick juke to the left followed by a step-over to the right, and his legs are agape. A deft touch of the ball through his wickets and I blow past his shoulder to recollect what is mine.

I see the referee out of the corner of my eye, surprised into action. He’s glancing at his watch, but he knows there will be resolution before putting lips to whistle. The linesman is galloping up his sideline in vain attempt to follow the action. Forget it, old boy. You will be a distant spectator to this penultimate play.

It’s just me and the keeper.

Having utterly stonewalled my mates thus far, my foe is formidable. Six foot four and full of muscles.

I choose my angle of attack and approach at 3/4 speed. All the while, competing voices in my head are shouting instructions:

“Deke it past him low and hard! ”

“Wait for him to go into his slide, then lift the ball over him!”

“Blow right past him and dribble the ball into the net!”

“Blast it into the upper 90!”


I ignore them all. I have been here before, and my body knows what to do. Years of practice guide me through the next three seconds. The crowd disappears. The field becomes the neighborhood park where I spent the weekends of my youth. I see the orange cones staggered over the next ten yards and navigate them flawlessly. Drawing my right leg back powerfully, I don’t even look at the hard-charging goalie.

BOOM.

All of my remaining energy and force are transferred into the ball. I know I’ve caught it well because I don’t feel a thing as I strike through it. Utterly drained and yielding to momentum, I fall forward with the shot. I hear the shrill hiss as the ball charts a path to destiny. Lifting my face from the ground to track its flight, I see it just nick the goalkeper’s outstretched fingertip. Enough to alter its path? Hard to say.

And so I watch.  And I wait.

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You Gotta Know When to Fold’em: The Expiring Tax Credit & You

GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES!

Are they good and fired up?

Great, now turn them off.

As one knocks around the internet here in late April of 2010, he or she cannot go two clicks without encountering manic encouragement to purchase a home “BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE,” or proclamations that “TIME IS RUNNING OUT” to take advantage of the first-time and move-up homebuyer tax credit; each froth-inducing pitch more fevered than the last.  The only thing missing are the decrees that “THIS OFFER EXPIRES AS SOON AS YOU LEAVE THE PREMISES,” and inquisitions as to “WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO GET YOU INTO A HOUSE TODAY?”  P.T. Barnum had nothing on a gaggle of motivated Real Estate agents.

Here’s the thing, though, I am not a big fan of leveraging fear as a sales tool.  With just over a week left in the Federal Clearing House Tax Sweepstakes, I am pulling the plug on my own hyperbole.  If you are a first-time homebuyer and have not found a suitable home after months of feckless searching, it’s time to call off the dogs. 

“IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT, JUST BUY SOMETHING!!!”

“HAVEN‘T BOUGHT A HOUSE YET??? 

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???”

“DON’T GET LEFT ON THE SIDELINES! THERE’S STILL TIME!”

Lest your home buying ship wash up on the nearest reef, these bleating calls to action should go unheeded.  The wall to wall promotion does have one thing right, though:  the time is now.  Just not in the way they would have you believe.  Now is the time to regroup and ensure you do not make a poor purchasing decision.  The tax credit has been a nice perk to those fortunate enough to find the right home over the past year, but don’t sabotage a 250k purchase because Uncle Sam is holding an 8k caliber gun to your head. 

If you are just starting the hunt now, you’ll do yourself a huge disservice by attempting to shoehorn yourselves into an ill-fitting home due to the time constraint.  If you are nearing your wits end after an unsuccessful months-long odyssey, you are equally likely to do the same when facing down the looming deadline.  I am issuing a cease and desist order to those who have confused the priorities of their fledgling home purchases. 

Let it go, folks.  Let it go. 

We can start again when your only underlying concern is securing the best possible deal on your ideal new home.  With the throng of desperate lemmings running blindly for the cliff, you might just find yourself as king of the buyer’s mountain come May 1st.  With a potential reduction in the number of suitors left after the great tax credit hari-kari, you could unwittingly stumble upon higher negotiating ground via your abstinence from the purchasing frenzy.  While that 8k incentive will drive some to overbid on properties in the coming days, the smart buyer might seek to carve a larger swath out of a seller’s backside in the fertile post-April 30th hunting grounds.

“IF YOU DON’T LIKE THIS HOUSE, SEND IT BACK FOR A NO-HASSLE MONEY BACK GUARANTEE!" <or not>

The folly in the air is palpable at present.  That little governmental spiff will come and go, and you won’t even remember towards what end the money went.  You’ll be stuck with the house, however.  Make sure it is the one you want. And for God’s sakes, man, don’t make the same mistake that we all made back in the heyday of 2005-2006 by assuming you will be able to offload the house in a couple of years if it doesn’t prove suitable for your needs.

Surely we haven’t forgotten this lesson while it is still being taught in excruciating detail?

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Search Scottsdale Homes For Sale At A Leisurely Pace

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Grinding to a Halt: The Art of Killing a Deal

Everyone wants a piranha.

Whether a professional athlete intent on a signing bonus the size of Madagascar, a victim of a vicious fender bender fixated on the 2.8 million dollar legal prescription for a tender neck or a home buyer/seller whose sole purpose on this earth at the immediate moment is to grind as many Ben Franklins as possible out of the guy on the other side of a negotiation, aggressiveness is typically the hallmark virtue in the professional representation that is sought.

The sports super agent, who we are 95% certain has a life-sized portrait of his bare chested self wearing a boa constrictor around suspiciously well tanned shoulders hanging in his posh downtown office, is universally loathed by all.  Secretly, however, we all know he’d be the only guy we’d call if we needed to make a cash withdrawal from the abundant posterior of a team owner.

The weaselly ambulance chaser with the slicked back, Grecian Formula enhanced locks is similarly unlikely to find himself on the guest lists of many Bat Mitzvahs and baby showers.  That narcissistic predator might eat the baby.  When we spill the drive-thru coffee in our laps or stumble over the “Watch Your Step!” sign at a public establishment, though, he’s the guy we call.

Amicable folks are great to have around, but when the conversation turns to business, we don’t want Mary Poppins going into battle on our behalf armed only with a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down.  We’d rather employ the services of Dr. Jekyll to go all Mr. Hyde on the opposition and cram that spoon straight down their throats.

Easy, tiger.

There is a time to kill, and there is a time to frolic.  The problem with the constant grinder is that he often grinds himself right out of a transaction.  It is critical that you leave the other guy with some dignity at the end of a tough negotiation, lest all of your efforts collapse under the weight of the other party’s exhaustion.  After you’ve knocked the poor bloke to the ground and bloodied his nose, do the smart thing.  Extend your hand and help him up.

In practical terms, this is akin to finally saying “yes” after repeated “no’s.”  When you win on the key points, you are often in a position to make a small concession on some trivial tangential issue.  Too many times, I see lost opportunities for a clear victor to score easy diplomatic points at these junctures in the waning moments of a deal.  Want the inspection and other critical aspects of the transaction yet to come to go smoothly?  Give up something that isn’t really necessary.  Offer something minor, but unexpected.

You’ve bitten his neck on price, drank his blood on terms … time to give him a transfusion unless you want to carry his Doppelganger the rest of the way to closing.  For the record, undead weight is quite heavy.

Of course, because you are reading my blog, this advice assumes you were on the dispensing end of said treatment throughout the course of the initial negotiation.  If you were unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end, go ahead and drive a wooden stake through the SOB’s black heart.

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