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Selling a Home? Here's a negotiation cheat sheet

Zillow • Mar 26, 2013 at 4:07 PM

There are countless articles on the Internet that offer tips on “how to sell your home,” which can be really useful when you’re getting ready to enter the market. But what if you’ve already found a buyer and you’re in the negotiation stage? Do you know the basics of negotiating a good deal with your buyer? Here is a “cheat sheet” that you can use as a quick reference.

Respect Your Bidders

Sounds obvious, especially in today’s competitive housing market, right? But respect goes beyond using good manners and being polite; it means responding to all offers within 24 hours. It means putting a lot of thought into your counteroffer (if you decide to make one). It means being accommodating to the buyer’s needs with respect to time frames.

Study Your Buyers

If possible, find out as much as you can about your buyers’ situation. What is driving their purchase? What is motivating them? What pressures are they facing? Be careful – they will be trying to find out the same information about you – keep your cards close to your vest.

Gather Supporting Documentation

If you priced your home at a fair market value to begin with, you will have no trouble gathering specific documentation that supports your asking price. Recent sales in the area, current property appreciation rates, appraisal values, and comps will all provide you with the details needed to support the sale of your home. A selling agent can supply this documentation. Having those details will help prevent and combat any weak generalizations being tossed out by the buyer’s agent in their attempt at lowering the price.

Use Silence

This is a tactic that holds a lot of power and thus should be used carefully with the skill of a professional broker. Once negotiations are underway, buyers may slow negotiations to try and make you feel uncomfortable. The hope is that you will begin to offer concessions in an attempt at not losing the deal. Don’t fall for it; if you’ve made a counter offer, be patient and wait.

Handling the Buyer’s Home Inspection

Most buyers will opt to have your home inspected by the inspector of their choosing. If their inspector finds minor issues like a leaky showerhead or a malfunctioning disposal, go ahead and fix the issues without putting up a fuss. The cost does not outweigh the benefit. However, if the inspector recommends extensive work that you feel is unjustified, such as replacing a fully functional HVAC system or a roof that's still fully watertight, have your listing agent delicately request that you hire another inspection company to get a second opinion.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face”? As a seller you shouldn’t be stubborn about holding onto negligible items such as chandeliers, window treatments, etc. If your buyers saw something during their tour of your home and they’ve indicated a desire to keep it, let them have it.

Negotiating a good deal can be tricky for both buyer and seller. You need to be prepared to walk away from a deal if necessary. There are buyers out there who will simply remain unreasonable. If you are bargaining with one of those buyers it’s important to remember that the real power belongs to the side that is prepared to walk away from the negotiations if they can’t get what they want. That said, you also need to be prepared to compromise. Understand that if you try to “win” every point of contention, you will likely lose the deal. The best negotiations occur when both groups walk away feeling reasonably pleased with the terms of the deal.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was written by Monte Mohr, who has sold over 2,500 homes, making him one of America's top Realtors for the last 25 years. This experience has given him a unique perspective on the Nashville real estate market found at http://www.tennesseedreamhomes.com. He is also a regular contributor of real estate advice to Nashville’s NBC affiliate station, WSMV Channel 4. To learn more about Monte Mohr's experience as a real estate agent, to get free advice about your biggest real estate challenges or to request an interview contact him at Info@TennesseeDreamHomes.com.


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