Buying or selling real estate is like playing chess. The need for strategic thinking, evaluating and prioritizing of available options, creating and executing of strategies can be found both in real estate and in the game of chess.
Whereas becoming a Master chess player is not something most of us would aspire to, becoming well-versed in the ‘game’ of real estate is something that can be very rewarding and beneficial for all.
The analogy one can make between real estate and playing chess is quite uncanny. We are not suggesting that you need to start learning how to play chess in order to understand that real estate is like playing chess. However, it might be of interest to look deeper into the parallels between real estate and the game of chess.
We have already initiated this thought process and came up with the following:
Pieces in the game…
The most numerous of all the chess pieces is the pawn. Considered as the weakest and lowest value piece on its own, once placed in certain formations, it can become a very powerful ally. As such, we consider the pawn to be the real estate agent. During the course of the game, a number of pawns will try to become part of stronger structures, but unless they actually do, their loss won’t have much of a strategic impact. Of course, before potentially losing certain pawns, one needs to consider all of the available options. Be careful in who you pick as your real estate agent as his input will increasingly be needed as the ‘game’ continues.
The (two) bishops need to remain on the squares of the color (white or black) they started on. Whereas a bishop can be considered more powerful in one situation than another, it remains a very versatile piece to have. This is why we believe the bishop to be the attorney. With a lot of pawn formations on the board, its power is diminished. However, its importance increases once we are approaching the end game, by which time most of the pawns have disappeared, letting the bishop’s long range across open lines gain control of the board. Studies have indicated that in a pawn end game, the player with a bishop tends to have a much higher chance of winning than the one with just a knight. Make sure you have an experienced attorney by your side when doing real estate deals.
Knights move in a somewhat different fashion than most other pieces. If kept on one’s own side of the board, they tend to be of less use. Sure, they can be easily scared away by pawns, however, it becomes very advantageous for knights to be on the opponent’s side of the board, hereby making the knight or our home inspector a very strong asset, especially when supported by a pawn structure. Unfortunately, a knight on its own isn’t enough to finish a game of chess.
Rooks are considered to be corner stones of a solid chess game and with the help of the king, able to successfully checkmate. A clear distinction as a powerful piece from the above mentioned previous knight and bishop functionalities. We see the rook as the financial institution. Chess tactics suggest placing the rook behind the pawn structure to solidify its strength. Rooks can be very powerful towards the end of the game, especially once the number of pieces on the board has been reduced. Having all your financial paperwork in order will allow your financial institution to move forward swiftly at the time of signing.
Finally, we have the king and queen who are the most important pieces on the board. These would be the homebuyers. Being very mobile pieces, their functionalities include those of the rook and bishop at the same time, hence they’re able to exert threats quite easily. All the other chess pieces are meant to protect the king and queen. After all, the homebuyers are the clients whose interests are at stake here; whereby all the ‘pieces’ need to work together.
All these participants each have their functions, weaknesses and strengths in the game. The position of these pieces makes their value increase drastically. Certain advanced pawns might be more valuable than those on their starting positions in the beginning of the game. The coordination between pieces is quite important as well, where a pair of bishops would coordinate better than a bishop and a knight. A real estate transaction consists of many different parties coordinating towards the same end goal.
Stages of the game…
The initial moves of a chess game aim to control the center of the board (‘location’) as future tactical encounters are likely to take place around that area. Whereas the ‘classical openings’ (such as Spanish Opening, Vienna Game or King’s Indian Defense) tend to use pawns to try to control the center, the ‘modern openings’ tend to use pieces from afar.
Some of these openings have the exact sequence considered best for both sides been worked out to 30–35 moves or more. Just like in real estate deals, most of the known paperwork is standard. Making sure your pieces (especially knights and bishops) are positioned on/near the center of the board is crucial to the further development of the game.
By the time the middle game is reached, most of the pieces have been developed. This is why the initial moves made during the opening game are so important: it sets the tone for the remainder of the game. In real estate, one tries to negotiate from a position of power. Future tactical moves will be decided at this point. Positions are being analyzed, adjusted, hurdles identified and the next moves are strategized. As with real estate, the middle game is where most of the combinations occur. As the opening games comes to an end, one needs to start preparing for the next stage of the game.
As we know, in the end game of chess, only a few pieces are left on the board. The knights, bishops and rooks have all performed their duties before being removed from the board. Most of the time, there are pawns left, which left unhindered by enemy pieces, can promote once it reaches the eighth board rank. The king becomes a stronger piece in the end game as well, where a strong relationship unfolds with the remaining pawn(s).
Playing chess without a strategy can become very expensive, very quickly. Not knowing which move to make next will not only hurt your game play, but also give the adversary extra time and room to advance his pieces on the board.
“Chess is the art which expresses the science of logic.” — Mikhail Botvinnik, World Chess Champion (1948-63).
Similarly as in playing chess, one needs to have proper planning in buying or selling real estate. Playing chess constitutes using all the available pieces to their most optimal capabilities. Why would one not use all the available pieces when buying or selling real estate? Doing so will not only dramatically decrease the odds of failure but, more importantly, give each (chess) player a powerful set of tools at his disposal.
Whether or not you take full advantage of all your bishops, knights or pawns is completely up to you, but in the end, real estate is like playing chess.
About the author: The above article “Real Estate Is Like Playing Chess” was written by Xavier De Buck, your top-producing Johannesburg real estate agent. Xavier has been nationally recognized and awarded for providing service excellence, exceptional property sales, whilst exhibiting the highest level of professionalism. With over 15 years combined experience as a real estate agent and real estate investor, if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in Johannesburg, Xavier would love to share his property knowledge and expertise.
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