When it comes to negotiating deals in Seattle’s still-hot real estate market, agents bring various advantages to the figurative table: experience, relationships, intuition. Broker Robin Sheridan has a bit of an ace, however. “I’m an attorney—I practiced law for several years.”
The former lawyer traded “a lot of contentiousness, a lot of fighting” that came with the territory of criminal prosecution for the opportunity to work with “people at a good time in their life.” Not to say that battling it out on behalf of her real estate clients isn’t any less thrilling. “I have so many wild moments,” she confides. “But now I look back, and it’s just part of the adventure.”
Who: Robin Sheridan, broker with Compass Real Estate
Years in the business: nine
Elevator pitch: “I’m a top-producing agent with years of experience in negotiation and contracts. And as an attorney, I understand better than most how to come out on top in our ultracompetitive market here in Seattle.”
When real estate disasters happen
I had a tree fall on a house during escrow. I had a flood on closing day. I had a guy screaming at me so loud one time on the phone that I truly thought if we had been in the same room that he would have actually hurt me. Not everybody behaves well under pressure, and I think that's probably where my legal background really helps. I was in the courtroom for years, and I had to keep my cool. I really try to, you know, rise above, but I've definitely had people scream and yell on the phone.
On dealing with squatters of all stripes
Early on when I started, there were still bank sales and squatters in homes. You would walk into these homes that were dark with no electricity, and you'd be terrified. I’d have my keys through my knuckles because I wasn't sure if someone's going to jump out. One time, I had to do a short sale and I had to get into the home with a locksmith. I'm walking in, and there had been squatters in the home.… Another time we were doing this inspection, and I heard my inspector just scream out. So I ran outside, and I found him on the side of the house with all his papers and clipboard dropped. He had been poking around the foundation and a claw had come out from under. It was a family of raccoons that were living in the house. He looked at my client and said, “You shouldn’t buy this house.”
Why the suburbs of Seattle are so popular right now
It was a really interesting combination of factors that sort of took place in the spring of last year. Suddenly, there were low interest rates and then people being super frustrated with their current spaces and working from home. I feel there was this drive to move to more comfortable spaces where they have more room for their kids and their families and home offices. Because I have a client base that's already mostly in homes, all those people moved out and then turned around and sold their primary residence. There was a lot of double transactions as a result and, you know, the suburbs went crazy, places like Shoreline, Edmonds, out on the Eastside.
On winning a last-minute bidding war
I had a situation where I was going to bring my clients to a house in Issaquah. And then the agent called and said, “I had an early [offer].” I asked her, when does the offer expire? And she said noon. It was like 10:30 in the morning, I'm like, “I'll be there at 11.” I was still in the city, but my clients and I drove there. The agent is there with her client, reviewing the offer. I brought my clients through, and I'm like, “It's now or never guys.” They went through the house, then they went into the backyard, and I stepped out front and talked to the other agent. I was like, We’re going to go up to this number, no contingencies, close this date, I'll get it done in the next 15 minutes. And she's like, “Done.” It's wild out there. But if I hadn't gone out there that very moment, they would have lost that house. And my clients are happy. They had been looking for a year.
On the most offers she’s seen for one home
I had a house, May of this year, that we had 29 offers on. And honestly, the house was a little bit funky in the floor plan with a separate space off the back. I don't believe I underpriced, but it had a really unique floor plan, which I thought might be off-putting to people, but it was a very big draw during the pandemic. Almost all of those 29 people were double income, no kids.
That house went for how much over asking?!
I've been on both sides where several homes went $200,000 to $300,000 over. I mean, my clients have been outbid on places that went $400,000 over on the Eastside recently. You just need to decide what's reasonable, you know, for the house.
Her secret to negotiating real estate deals
I think that's where my legal background actually comes into play. I think most people think it's really handy in contracts, and of course it is. But I learned a long time ago that if you really want to have a negotiation go smoothly for your clients that you need to be the other agent's friend. When you're trying to get your client into contract, your relationships are so abundantly important. My goal always is if I'm in the second place, that I get a phone call to get the opportunity to be in first place. And generally, that's been the case that I at least got my clients the opportunity to secure a home. Now they don't always want to change their offer or compete, which is fine, but my goal is always to be that person that gets a chance to secure the house. And that's really because of my relationships.