Can I Charge More Because I Know Someone Will Pay It?

Q: As a real estate agent can I ask for a price above fair market value if I believe that the client will pay it anyway?

A: In negotiating a real estate transaction, you must consider the value of the property, your own time and effort, any additional costs associated with the sale, and the needs and means of the clients you represent. We depend on the market to weigh these valid competing interests. But the market, shaped by macroeconomic forces, does not always reflect the understanding of justice found in Catholic social teaching. A good question for you to ask yourself is: What is just? It is just for you, as the real estate agent, to receive appropriate compensation for your labor. It is just for the purchaser to pay fairly and purchase within his/her means. It is just for the seller to receive an adequate price. And above all, it is just that all parties participate in good faith and conduct the transaction without deception or manipulation. These considerations should set a sort of framework, albeit an unspoken one – a minimum price to be fair to the seller, and a maximum price to be fair to the purchaser. The space in between is where you can negotiate, within reason, on behalf of yourself and the party that you represent.

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.