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The Future of Your Deal. Does it Have One?

This is the eighth in an 11-part series of understanding the key ingredients in all successful real estate transactions.

There are three basic questions in selling commercial real estate. One, who has a property for sale? Two, who wants it? And three, are the parties qualified to transact the sale? This sounds easy enough, but with many issues involved in negotiating real estate transactions, future problems may arise that prevent a deal from closing.

Futurist Jack Uldrich says, “In short, we have few answers about the future. As a result, this implies that if we wish to better decipher the future we might want to learn how to ask better questions.” Unfortunately, many people don’t know how to ask the questions that give insight into the future. This happens because asking these types of critical thinking questions is hard work and requires practice. Moreover, we are trained, both in our educational system and professional lives, to find and act upon the "correct" answers. Nothing is inherently wrong with this, unless of course you are answering the wrong question! Nevertheless, it is vitally important to learn how to ask good questions. Ultimately, they can mean the difference between closing a deal and wasting time on a lost venture.

Professional sales people, in all types of businesses, make many of their sales by asking great questions to lead their consumer in the direction of a sale. You should keep in mind, that as the sale price increases, the questions should focus in on the buyer’s financial ability to purchase what you’re selling. Determining your client only has the desire to own real estate is much different than discovering they have the money and the desire to own real estate.

There are numerous qualifying questions asked by the real estate professionals assisting in a transaction: do you want to buy or lease, how much space do you require, how high do the ceilings need to be in the warehouse, do you need a corner lot for your retail store, etc. But, we are emphasizing the financial qualification questions because many salespeople don’t ask buyers early enough in the discussion if they are financially able to purchase the property. Failing to financially qualify the buyer can have long-lasting consequences for a seller; namely in the form of lost time. We all know time is money, and losing time in commercial real estate quickly leads to a significant loss of money. The words by Fred Schwed are very fitting: “Like all of life’s rich emotional experiences the full flavor of losing important money cannot be conveyed by literature.”

Whether you are buying, selling, or leasing commercial real estate, the question is the same. Why would you try to tackle the endless list of real estate complexities, learn the required negotiating skills, spend time gaining market knowledge, and attempt to estimate property valuations, when a proven real estate professional can assist you in all of these areas while asking the questions that help unveil the future of your deal? By simply hiring a proven real estate professional, the future belongs to you.

Linford L. Good is Senior Vice President of Brokerage Services for High Associates Ltd. He can be reached at