Bayens: Of competition and cooperation

Scott Bayens
Guest Commentary

Over the years, I’ve come to realize there are many misconceptions regarding real estate brokers in general and here in the greater Roaring Fork Valley, what they really do and how they interact with each other. Is a good real estate agent meant to engage and “defeat” the other broker and party through the process of negotiation? Do clients ask their representatives to “win at all costs”? Or is a softer, more strategic, even creative and intelligent approach the one that leads to ultimate success and satisfaction for the client?

The answer is likely obvious but the fact is, it depends on the circumstances of the deal and the parties involved. Brokers by nature are competitive, independent animals, and in this area, many of our clients tend to be high-powered, successful and, yes, demanding in their own right.

Even in our small valley, there are agents who really don’t like the other’s style or enjoy working with one another, but personally I have found that to be the exception rather than the rule. Do deals get jammed up, go sideways and even explode at the closing table? Of course. And yes, there are times when issues between agents and buyers and sellers end up in court.

Around here, where commissions can easily be in the six-figure range and deals commonly in the millions, there can be a lot to fight about. These can be complicated and one-sided scenarios, but ones that are protracted and costly and usually don’t end well for either party.

There are certainly times when an agent needs to keep information confidential, as that is part of their fiduciary duty. Examples are revealing the reason a client is selling or what their bottom-line selling price might be. But I have found the smoothest and most enjoyable deals are ones where the agents work in cooperation, as colleagues and in a transparent manner.

Keeping emotions and drama to a minimum is also key and perhaps the most difficult challenges brokers must face. Those who manage to stay calm, and encourage their clients to do the same, are unusually the most successful and productive. They keep deals on track through a proven, organized and ethical process providing proper disclosures and information along the way. A smart agent learns to control his/her client by setting expectations, staying communicative and expertly leading and guiding the process to the closing table.

Additionally, agents who see their fellow brokers as assets rather than adversaries also are the most prepared and informed. That’s because by working with each other, sharing information (particularly stuff that’s not in the multiple listing service), and generally looking out for one another, the more of a resource they become for their clients and the more deals get done. It’s smart business and in the end, makes our jobs less stressful and a lot more fun, not to mention lucrative.

On that note, I’d like to acknowledge two of my colleagues at Sotheby’s that I failed to properly recognize in a column I wrote a couple months back. Tim Estin provided me the initial information regarding Fritz Benedict and his purchase of Red Mountain Ranch in exchange for a pick-up truck. I’m sorry I didn’t properly attribute him. Thanks also to Andrew Ernemann for his assistance and generosity. Both Estin and Ernamann are true gentleman, hard workers and dedicated full-time professionals. Contact either of them if you require their expertise.

Scott Bayens is a real estate agent with Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Real Estate in Aspen/Snowmass with more than a decade of experience with buyers and sellers. He works exclusively with Michael Perau. Both work as a team to offer twice the presence and availability. Scott can be reached at


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