The ‘Irish Goodbye’ in Real Estate: Terribly Rude or Discreetly Tactful?

by Garcia Chris
7 minutes read
The ‘Irish Goodbye’ in Real Estate: Terribly Rude or Discreetly Tactful?

Slipping away unnoticed from a gathering without telling anyone you’re leaving is a hotly debated practice, often dubbed an “Irish goodbye.”

Etiquette aficionados heartily disapprove of the silent, ninjalike parting and deem the move rude. Devoted practitioners, however, claim the down-low disappearing act is a clever way of avoiding an awkward or prolonged fare-thee-well.

Giving partygoers the slip is one thing. But the question arises: Is any form of the Emerald Isle’s famed “so long” acceptable in matters of real estate? Whether you’re a homebuyer, home seller, or something in between, opportunities to cut and run do crop up on occasion. Is it justified as a matter of expediency—or just plain bad manners?

Here’s what happened when housing-market pros and clients turned to the Irish goodbye to get out of various real estate scenarios—and whether the vaunted luck of the Irish panned out.

Giving your agent the shamrock shake

If an agent isn’t meeting expectations or communicating as hoped, a buyer might opt for the trusty Irish goodbye rather than criticize a real estate pro.

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Consider John Sieling, an agent at Branch Real Estate in Portland, OR. He gets ghosted a couple of times a year by homebuyers who are seemingly eager to list their houses—at first.

“After having that first one-on-one meeting and then delivering a CMA (comparative market analysis), they’ll disappear,” says Sieling.

To make matters worse, he often later sees the home he spent hours on listed with another agent.

“Some people won’t always be upfront and are willing to burn your valuable time with no intention of ever doing business with you,” adds Sieling.

Irish goodbye, yea or nay? Nay. You might feel sheepish about parting ways with your agent, but a direct approach will save you from the stress of hiding—and being caught, as many competing agents know each other.

“Ghosting an agent can lead to misunderstandings, delays, and frustrations for all parties involved,” says Scott Sloan, an attorney, real estate investor, and founder of Grand Exit Property Acquisition Group in Dallas.

When your agent takes the high road (without you)

It might be hard to fathom a commissions-dependent agent giving a client the brushoff. It does happen, though.

Cam Dowski, CEO and founder of WeBuyHousesChicago, spent hours upon hours working with a couple who had an extensive checklist of what they wanted in a house.

“At first, I thought I could find a house that matched their wishes; but as we looked at more homes, it became clear their expectations were really high,” says Dowski.

Despite his efforts to find houses that met their ever-expanding demands, they never reacted to a listing with genuine interest.

“It was tiring, and I started avoiding their calls and emails, because I didn’t know what else to do,” Dowski admits.

Irish goodbye, yea or nay? Nay again. Dowski acknowledges that avoiding confrontation was a mistake.

“I realized I needed to talk to the buyers honestly about what was possible and what wasn’t,” he says. “Since then, I’ve learned it’s important to be clear with clients and talk openly about what they can expect.”

Letting negotiations go to pot

One not-so-fun aspect of a real estate deal is the negotiations game. A buyer might want money knocked off of the asking price because of a faulty water heater. Meanwhile, the seller might want extra cash for the brand-new appliances they are leaving behind.

The push and pull over money is often a frustrating and emotional roller coaster deserving of an Irish goodbye.

Just ask Danny Johnson, owner of Danny Buys Houses in San Antonio, where he once negotiated with an estate for a historic home. The process started in Johnson’s favor, with the estate agreeing to sell for $425,000—down from $495,000. But the sellers changed their minds, so it was back to the drawing board.

Eventually, representatives for the estate said they wouldn’t take anything less than $450,000.

“It was excruciatingly painful to have to wait five days after each counteroffer to receive a reply,” says Johnson.

So after two weeks, he gave the estate the Irish goodbye.

Irish goodbye, yea or nay? Yea. These owners seemed like they never wanted to sell.

“I ceased all communication with them, and the house is still sitting on the market nearly a year later,” Johnson reports.

Bagging the closing

Selling a home can be a long and exhausting, months-long process. As an owner, once you’ve gone through showings, inspections, and negotiations, you might be tempted to skip the closing and just wait for a fat check to arrive.

Irish goodbye, yea or nay? Nay. Even if your state law doesn’t require you to be at the closing when you sell your house, being a no-show could have legal and financial implications.

For instance, the buyer’s mortgage could fall through, or an issue with the title might crop up on closing day.

“In my experience, it’s crucial for sellers to fulfill their obligations and attend the closing to ensure a smooth transfer of ownership,” says Sloan.

Open house shenanigans

The scenario is familiar to any homebuyer or (nosy neighbor) at an open house: A real estate pro is hosting the gathering and, to avoid either talking to an aggressive agent or sharing your contact details, you slip out the back door—sight unseen.

Some homebuyers even admit to what might be considered a reverse Irish goodbye at open houses—meaning, they also sneak in.

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Irish goodbye, yea or nay? Yea—and nay. While ducking out of an open house isn’t the cringiest behavior real estate agents encounter, buyers could miss out on an opportunity to chat with the agent, ask questions, and learn specifics about the home that might not be apparent on a solo tour.

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