I can tell 30 seconds into a phone call if the agent is a good negotiator or one that will be hard to work with.  There are lots of clues, but the most important are the agents general tone and confidence.  Confidence comes from knowing how to navigate a complex transaction all the while keeping your eyes on the goal.  Good agents have a compass that keeps them always pointed towards the prize.  The prize is a successful transaction where you buy or sell a piece of real estate.  
Some agents are born with a talent for deal making but lack the experience and vision to keep the deal on the rails all the way to the finish.  There is a strategy involved in every deal.  Knowing what tactics to employ is the difference between talent and knowledge.  It’s great to have a quarterback that can throw 50 yards but you don’t want to throw a hail Mary on your first play.  
Good negotiators can be born with talent, but cannot achieve excellence without training, experience and feedback.  The feedback is constant but not all lessons are easy ones.  Sometimes a poor performance is just what you need to realize that you need to adjust and do it better next time.  Training comes from reading, studying, watching and engaging with your opponent in your negotiation.  You will learn more by scrapping it out with a good negotiator than you would reading 50 books or taking two years of classes.
There are many people who lack talent, training and experience, but still consider themselves a great negotiator.  They employ poor tactics, try to force the other party to comply, and generally just make a mess of every transaction they get involved in.  It’s the like that one guy on the dance floor with no skills and no sense of the beat.  He thinks he’s doing great but everyone around him is rolling their eyes and chuckling.  
Like any endeavor, negotiators need to constantly sharpen their talents and tactics.  There is no such thing as a natural skilled negotiator.  The best hagglers have a knack for it, but need to learn how to leverage their skills into a powerful tool for helping people successfully navigate a real estate transaction.  The best negotiators learn from every deal and build on that for the next one.  The more important factor in who you hire to represent you in a real estate transaction is how well they negotiate.  



Steve Mallett has been a Real Estate Broker in the Greater Austin, Texas, area since 2003.  His team specializes in Luxury Residential Listings and Buyers.  They are Central Texas specialists. 512-627-7018