How to Decline the Monkey, Part III


posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

Monkey Free Zone


First, allow me to apologize for dragging this Monkey Series* on too long. I really didn’t intend to write more than one or two posts on it, but I just keep thinking of things to say! I was hoping this would be the last one, but I suspect it’s not. Hang in there with me, k? I really AM trying to get to my point.

Yesterday, I wrote about CONTROL. Specifically, which issues of a real estate transaction (i.e. Monkeys) YOU control; which ones your CLIENT controls and which ones neither of you has any say over. My point in spelling it all out wasn’t to give anyone permission to be snotty with a buyer or seller when he tries to hand off his Monkey; no, I just wanted to clarify which Monkeys are appropriate to decline. (“Declining the Monkey” means to refuse to accept responsibility for problems that are not yours to solve.)

If you didn’t read yesterday’s blog, please do so here. The rest of this won’t make much sense if you don’t – sorry. And while you’re at it, read this one, too.

Believe it or not, politely declining to take on your clients’ monkeys has a lot to do with respect. Respecting your CLIENT’S intelligence, abilities and willingness to do his part. Acknowledging that your client has a brain and a checkbook, and that he can probably find some free time. A lot of us don’t seem to give our clients the benefit of the doubt that they are willing or able to do their part, so we either offer to do it for them or walk away frustrated.Upside down monkey

Sure, an upside-down seller will be more than happy to dump his upside-down monkey on you, if you agree to take it. A frustrated buyer would be tickled to let YOU figure out where that extra 5% down is going to come from when the terms of his loan change. But you CAN gracefully hand that monkey back to the buyer or seller without his ever noticing the hand-off!

Let’s use the example from my initial blog of the seller who owes $415,000 on a house that might be worth $399,000. To come out whole, he really needs to sell around $430,000. Oh, and he DOESN’T want to come to the table with money or short sell the house.

What do you do?

Of course, you can refuse to take the listing, and indeed, that’s what you might end up doing. Or you might agree to take the listing at a too-high price, and regret it every day for the next six months. But are those the only two options?


There is another solution to this problem. One that may result in a sellable listing. What IS this magic solution?

I dunno.

It’s your seller’s solution to discover. And if you let him keep his monkey, he may very well come up with the solution on his own. Maybe he’ll decide to kiss up to Aunt Lulu and ask her for a short-term loan to cover the spread. Maybe he’ll decide a short-sale isn’t out of the question. Maybe he’ll agree to make the improvements you recommend to give him a better shot at a higher price.

Or maybe he’ll come up with something brilliant none of us thought of.

But… but… but… how DO you show your prospect or client the respect of letting him keep his own monkeys? What do you say? Or not say?

You know the drill… stay tuned


*I didn’t make up the Monkey concept – Terry Watson did. You can purchase Monkey t-shirts at his website:


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