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Does I Win = You Lose???

on August 19 | in Our House | by | with 19 Comments

On The Other Side Of Almost Every “Steal” Is Someone Getting Cheated

That’s what Daddypotamus said yesterday as we talked through the events of the last two weeks. Since you have the internet (and are therefore not living under a rock), I know you’ve heard about the U.S. “housing crisis.”

We had too, but it was nothing more than a conceptual problem until we put our house on the market. We got an offer almost immediately, but turned it down in hopes of getting something better. After months of showings without offers, reality had sufficiently slapped us in the face. We developed a painfully clear understanding of what it meant that 30% of our competition were foreclosures priced way below market value.

The “Low Ball” Offer

Two weeks ago we got a verbal offer. It was so insulting I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry. We threw out a ludicrous counter offer just to see what would happen. Surprisingly, they responded and inched up over the next two weeks.

Throughout the negotiations I felt violated. It may sound silly, but I did. They manipulated, they insulted us, they asked for more than was reasonable . . . and then asked for more (Can we throw in our refrigerator?? Seriously???).

These people knew I was pregnant. They were trying to use it to their advantage to pressure us, but in the end it backfired on them. Because you know what happens when you make a full-term pregnant woman angry? Something. It could be one of many things, but something is gonna happen.

Since they never submitted a formal offer and we weren’t bound to anything, I called a woman that had seen our house a few weeks before. She was the person I “saw” in this house. Her sister and nephew live in our neighborhood (ya’ll know how I feel about having family nearby) and she was just the spunkiest, sweetest lady I’d met in a long time.

So, like I said I called her . . . and sold the house right from under the other buyers feet! Do I feel bad about this? Nope.

I Win = You Lose

When I was in the corporate world we had this guy come in and do a seminar on teamwork. He divided us into groups to play a game called “Get The Most Points.” The objective was, obviously, to get the most points and win.

Is this two faces or a vase? Like many things it’s a matter of perception. The game was called “Get The Most Points,” not stop the other teams from getting points. Not “Make Sure Everyone Else Wallows In Misery and Lack So You Can Upgrade Your Lifestyle.”

Ironically, the best strategy would have been for each team to work together to achieve the highest number. But peoples perception is that in order to win someone has to lose, and no one saw the other possibility (except me, and I was too chicken to speak up).

After the president of the company led his team to victory (because who would be more skilled at crushing opponents and rising to the top than him?), the teamwork coach pointed out the obvious fact I had seen earlier. We tried to thwart each other’s success because we inherently believed that would lead to more success for us. Not only is that untrue, the OPPOSITE is actually the case.

Living a Win-Win Life

That day in the boardroom changed my life. By keeping silent I had contributed to a culture of intimidation and exploitation, and that needed to change. I began looking for win-win situations. I buy my cloth diapers from a local momma who gives me a great price. Win-win.

I buy my meat from local ranchers that use environmentally friendly methods.  I win because the food is more nutrient dense, the rancher wins because he doesn’t have to pay middle man costs. The environment wins because no chemicals were used and less gas is needed to ship locally.  The local economy gets a boost, which is good for me! Win-Win-Win-Win!!!

I want to engage in as many win-win transactions as I can in my life. What made me so angry about the first potential buyers I mentioned is that I felt cornered into that old system of exploitation. That’s not how I want to live my life.

I’m happy to say we ARE selling our house to the woman I’d envisioned here. The contract was finalized last night. Although we are only breaking even (or maybe taking a slight loss), we love this woman because she is helping us get to where we need to be, and she loves us because we are giving her a fantastic deal. No one had to lose their dignity. No one had to feel powerless.

Ten seconds after we finalized the contract Katie gave her yet another hug and kiss and then we prayed over her. We prayed that her move would go perfectly with nothing broken or missing and that she would be blessed here, in this house where we have spent all our married life and where two of are children were/will be born. It was a gift to both of us.

The night ended with me promising to email her my blueberry muffin recipe, which I served the night before. (Of course I couldn’t direct her here! Can you imagine her reading this about herself???) She reciprocated by inviting us back to our former home if our children ever want to see where they entered the world.

It was a big win-win moment for me. In the words of Michael Buble:

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling goooooood

Wouldn’t you like YOUR business and life transactions to end with warm hearts, good results, and blessings all around? If we stopped always trying to get the “best deal” at the expense of the other, how much better might our lives be? I love good deals and I’m not about to stop. I buy used items off of Craigslist when possible, which puts money in regular peoples pockets and keeps perfectly good stuff out of landfills. It doesn’t take tons of money to start making win-win transactions, only a little forethought.

Do you like the idea of seeking out win-win transactions? How can we teach our kids to live this way?

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19 Responses to Does I Win = You Lose???

  1. Des says:

    So happy for you guys! bring on the dream house!!!

  2. HIP HIP HOORAY!!! Way to stand up for yourself and your family!

  3. Daniel says:

    I’d like to say that it was this amazing stand up for our rights kind of situation, but it really wasn’t. We thought we were going to have two offers and get to pick the best one (or better yet, start a bidding war!). But the lady dropped out because of the size of the kitchen. Well, that left us to deal with the family that was low balling us and trying to eek out every last drop of blood.

    I hope the people who did not get to buy our house will learn a valuable life lesson from this. In our pursuit of the best deal, it’s tempting to ignore the needs and humanity of the other party involved. But God blesses those who seek to bless. Frugality is not a greater virtue than love.

    Our email response to the unchosen buyers will be this: “We have signed a contract with another buyer. Our goal was to help facilitate a win/win for both buyer and seller, and in the end, we chose to go with the buyer whose offer communicated that they shared our goal.”

  4. Julie says:

    Congratulations on selling your house!! I own my own business, and I do structure win-win deals, or I walk away.

    I disagree with your opening statement about someone losing on the other end of every “steal”. Someone is losing money, yes, but you have to remember that money is not everyone’s highest priority when selling something, even something of value. Take cars, for example. If you want at least *some* money for your old car, you have two options: sell it privately, or trade it in to a dealership for a new car. Obviously, you will get way less money trading it in. But if you sell it yourself, yes you will get more money, hopefully blue book value, but there’s a hassle there. You have to market it for sale, have your phone ringing with some not-so-serious buyers, haggle over price, let people test drive it, and then baby-sit the buyer to make sure they get new plates and title is transferred correctly. If you trade it in, you do none of that. No headaches, no hassles. Just sign their expertly drafted paperwork and hand over the keys. For many, the lower price is worth that. They are willing to forgo some money they could have made to also forgo the hassle and time expense. So that is a win-win, even though on paper it appears that the dealership is getting a “steal.” And this scenario can play out with anything, I just used the car because it’s an easy example.

    The way I look at it as a business woman is that I do not want to win at someone else’s expense. I’m not going to manipulate or twist arms. But it’s also not my job to baby-sit them and speak for their best interests, that’s their job. They have to make their own decision and take responsibility for it. And many times, people take a not so good deal and then try to blame the other seller/buyer for their losses. And that’s not fair or right either. In my opinion, it’s not any better than manipulating to get what you want.

    • Daniel says:

      Julie, I’m so exhausted from this whole deal that I’ll only type one more thing on the subject and then I’m going to move on.

      As a buyer, you can assume that the other person knows what they’re doing and getting into. You can do that. But it’s an assumption. I’m talking about loving our neighbor so much that we make sure they are aware if they’re offering something for a steal. Because if/when they do find out, they will feel cheated. I don’t really care if objectively I can look at the other person and blame them for not doing their due diligence.

      That’s the way of the world. Not the way of love. The world’s mindset is to get the best deal you can possibly get for you, and let the other person take care of themselves. As a secular system, it works to a degree. But I’m after a better way of living. I want my business to be a blessing to me and to my customers/clients. If they feel blessed and could care less that I’m getting a better deal than them, that’s entirely their prerogative. But I want my heart to prefer to show them love than to get the best deal for myself.

      Business is a means to caring for my family and for sowing the Kingdom of God into culture.

    • Heather says:

      Julie – I totally agree. That’s why I included “almost” in that opening statement. We are barely breaking even or even settling for a loss on a house we have owned for 7 years, never missed a payment on, and which we completely gutted and remodeled. But I call that a win-win scenario because there are things more important than money.

      Because my husband has made some good decisions financially, we were not in distress by any means in this situation. That allowed us to stand firm when others tried to push us around. The people I had in mind when I wrote this post were those that wield less power than we do. I believe there is a vast difference between the way you operate your business and people who take a “vulture mentality” to situations where people are desperate and without options. Your outlook on the world is more unique than you probably realize, and I’m glad you’re out there getting stuff done!

  5. Julie says:

    Daniel, I was not at all meaning to insult you in what I said, I sincerely hope you didn’t take it that way, and if you did, I apologize. I know how emotionally taxing the real estate process can be when it’s your primary residence at stake, and I was not at all defending the people who tried to manipulate you. I was simply trying to point out that just because someone sells something at below, even way below, market value, it doesn’t automatically mean they were screwed over or preyed upon, or are even unhappy with the deal. Sometimes, something other than money is more important.

    That being said, it does sound like you had some rather vulture-like potential buyers, which is so unfortunate for all involved. But, congrats again for a happy ending!!

    • Heather says:

      Julie – You are such a sweetheart (in the tough lawyer kind of way ; – ) When are you going to come to Texas so we can invite you over for dinner?

    • Daniel says:

      No worries, Julie. I didn’t feel insulted. Today is just one of those rare days I don’t have it in me to explain myself any better than I have. I’m spent, and need some rest.

  6. Julie says:

    Daniel, by all means get some rest! :)

    Heather, you are so sweet yourself! I would absolutely love having dinner with you guys. And if you are ever in New York, I would love to have you guys over for dinner as well!

  7. Mae says:

    Eamon and I believe this very much so. One way that we are teaching our kids about this sentiment is by not shopping at certain stores, buying certain brands, and researching almost everything we buy. When we found our favorite products that we got on the cheap caused men, women and children down the street, across county lines, or clear on the other side of the world to lose basic needs or even their lives, we struggled to continue to live that way.
    For example; we never shop at Walmart. Not for a damn thing. Someone got us a gift card for our wedding and we did use it then, but that was the last time we set foot in one. It CAN be done. Socks can be purchased elsewhere, and do you REALLY need jelly pens every time you go to pick up a birthday card? I just don’t think so. We make less than $2000 a month so this “we just can’t afford to shop anywhere else” argument irritates the crap out of me.
    We don’t buy anything Nike. Nike refuses to listen to UN pressures threatening to shut them down for repeated sweatshop use and child abuse. Nor do we buy Apple products for similar reasons. Plus the suicide rates caused by overworking to keep up with the high demand of the pretty little fruit stamp make us sick.
    Our opinions are very, very strong. And while they do reflect our views of the companies and the people who run them, we can’t hold these opinions of their consumers because most of them don’t do the last thing we do-research. I know it’s a lot to keep up with and it seems overwhelming, but if you sit down for a few minutes and start to find things that you CAN use, you’ll realize there are a few things in which someone just loses by a margin, or it’s a win-win!

  8. Genevieve says:

    Heather,

    What a beautiful spirit you are! Loved this blog post!

    I aim for win-win too… Keeps me closer to God that way ;).

    Best of luck with the move and house hunt.

    • Heather says:

      Thank you, Genevieve. BTW, did you change blog addresses? I recognize you but not your URL. Is this pregnancy brain or am I really onto something?

      • Genevieve says:

        No, it isn’t pregnancy brain… LOL! We had to shut down earth mama since we found out it was a trademarked name. It was quite a process and we learned a lot. Our new name is mama natural with url mamanatural.com. Check us out sometime!

        Speaking of pregnancy brain, when’s your exact due date? Mine is Sept. 12th… can’t wait!

        Cheers,

        Genevieve

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