Black Belt Negotiating For Homebuyers
By Michael Soon Lee
would you like to save $10,000 or more off your next house? It’s
really quite easy if your real estate agent has a black belt in
negotiating. The challenge is that most people in general and real
estate agents in specific rarely take advantage of the power of
bargaining, except on rare occasions when making large purchases
like cars and houses. In other countries, like Asia, people there
negotiate everything everyday and save thousands.
Negotiating is like a martial arts contest where power, leverage and
timing can mean the difference between winning and losing. For
instance, a martial artist would never go into a contest without
first spying on his opponent to find weaknesses. In the same way,
you can gain bargaining power by doing your homework. When buying a
house find out how long it’s been on the market, why the owner is
selling, if there have been previous offers and if you will be the
only one making an offer at this time. Obviously, finding the
answers to questions like these could save you a lot of money.
make sure that your agent presents your offer in-person, if
possible. It’s very difficult to negotiate a good deal by fax.
Before engaging in contest, a martial artist warms up by
stretching. Likewise, a savvy negotiator warms up by building
rapport and finding common ground with the other party, because
people like to do business with people they like. In real estate, a
smart agent will try to get the seller emotionally involved with you
before she brings out your offer. She should have you compose a
hand-written letter about why you want the home and perhaps even
show a few photos of you and your family. When faced with several
competing offers I have done this and gotten a client’s contract
accepted even when ours didn’t present the highest price but the
seller fell in love with my buyers.
fighters will cautiously probe each other looking for weaknesses. In
bargaining this is done by throwing offers onto the table to see how
the other party reacts. Experienced fighters often use guile to lure
their opponents into range by pretending a blow has hurt them more
than it really did. Similarly, you agent could pretend to be shocked
by a seller’s counter to your offer to get him to come down in
price. Visibly showing surprise or hurt is called flinching
and it used by master bargainers to gain concessions without giving
artists are taught to read the body language of their opponents so
they can see a blow before it is unleashed. Experienced negotiators
can literally read the other party’s mind by watching body language
and listening carefully. If a seller says, “Make us an offer” you
know their price is flexible before you even start. Also, without
saying a word their body language can also tell you if they like or
dislike any offer you make so be sure your agent watches very
carefully as they show the seller your purchase contract. If the
pupils of the owner’s eyes get larger as they read the price you are
well on your way to a deal but if his pupils get smaller your agent
will have to do a lot of selling.
artists do not believe in win-win and neither should you. Even when
sparring their best friend they want to give their best effort.
Expect and demand you’re your agent fight for the best deal possible
assuming that the seller and his agent will take care of themselves
because they will.
are supremely aware of time and try to use it to their advantage by
saving as much energy as possible for the last few seconds of a
round when they can score points against a tired opponent. Black
belt negotiators put their opponents under time pressure by setting
deadlines. Be sure that your agent mentions to the seller that you
are considering several other similar properties in the area and
that the seller must give a prompt response to your offer.
martial arts, as in life, there are unfair fighters who will do
anything to win, so you must protect yourself at all times.
Negotiators must be aware of unfair tactics such as nibbling,
which is asking for concessions after an agreement has been reached.
If this happens to you just remember this blocking technique,
“Before you give a concession – get a concession.” For example, if a
seller suggests that to hold the deal together that you’ll have to
pay for the transfer tax or other fee, remind your agent not to fall
for this trick and simply respond with, “If we did, what would you
do for us?” When a nibble realizes that every thing they ask for
something you will respond in kind they will stop nibbling.
when a contest ends, fighters will bow to each other as a sign of
respect as if to say, “You were a worthy opponent” which makes both
contestants feel good whether they won or lost. Your agent should
also congratulate the seller for having gotten a good deal.
Otherwise he might change his mind and try to find a way to wiggle
out of the agreement.
do you find a real estate agent who is a black bet in negotiating?
Just ask these hypothetical questions and see how he or she answers
“What information do we need before making an offer and how would
you get it?”
2) “What’s your experience with negotiating?” (You want someone who
negotiates every chance he or she gets whether it’s a large or small
3) “What’s your philosophy of negotiating?” (If the answer is “win-win”
find another agent!
4) “Do you prefer to present offers in-person or send them in?
5) “How can we make sure the seller responds to our offer right away?”
6) “When you sit down with the seller what’s the first thing you do?”
(If the answer is “I pull out the contract” keep interview agents.
You want someone who knows that closing a deal begins with build a
7) “How can you tell if the seller immediately likes or dislikes our
8) “How would you react if the seller gives us a full price
9) “What would you do if the seller asks for something additional after
the contract has been signed?”
the we were five hundred dollars apart from having a ratified
contract what would you do?” (If the answer is, “I’d give it to you
from my commission” find another agent. Anyone who cannot negotiate
their own fee will have difficulty protecting your interests.)
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about Michael Soon Lee.
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