Real Estate Negotiation – Don’t let the cat out of the bag!

Real Estate Negotiation is not rocket science!

One little slip up, however, and you may as well take out your checkbook and ask the Buyer/Seller how much they would like.

Unless you know what not to say and when, you are likely to accidentally give away just the right information that will make a difference to the offer price, the real estate negotiation strategy being employed or the other little details that matter most to you.

As your Realtor, I’m going to coach you. When to leave the house, when to stay.  What is OK to tell the other party and what is not.  I’ll go as far as telling you what language is benign and what could damage your bottom line all the way to closing.  No… Never how to lie!  Just how to reveal the right information, at the right time, in the right way.. To your advantage.

Real estate negotiations are art and science.  If your Realtor is not trained (and practiced) in real estate negotiation, you better hope that the other party’s Realtor is not either!

My extensive real estate negotiation training went further than how to ask for what you want, in person.  I also studied:

  • Negotiating by phone – how to interpret tone but without the benefit of body language and facial expression.
  • Email/Written negotiation – Did you know that about 80% of email messages are misinterpreted?  Most email only real estate negotiations will fail, unless they the negotiator understands how to communicate effectively this way.
  • Generational differences.  Which communication methods typically give a person in a given generation, comfort and why.
  • Cultural differences.  Once you offend a person (even unwittingly) you can say goodbye to a smooth real estate negotiation, but if you understand how to discover their needs, you’ll both smile all the way to closing.
  • Personality types/profiles.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much this has helped my real estate negotiation strategy over the years.  I’ll keep the details of this to myself, to maintain that edge!
  • Body language and facial expression interpretation.  Again, very powerful tools, providing great information about the parties involved in a negotiation.  Yes, that includes both Buyer, Seller and the other Realtor if there is one.  No details published here, for the good of my clients.

Does the story end at negotiation training?  Heck no!  If you can’t write a great contract (especially in this market) then you may as well stay home!

  • Keeping up to date with the latest contract and law changes is vital.  Learning how to use the changes is just as important.  The Colorado Real Estate Commission changes details in contracts every year and requires agents take a Commission Update Course annually.  This is the minimum your Realtor should be doing!
  • Today, we are living in a Seller’s market.  Buyers are still clambering over each other to get their offers in first, to bid the highest, to seem the most qualified.  All good things, no question.  But perhaps not the be all and end all.  Does your Realtor have tips, tricks and special clauses to set your offer apart?  
  • Has your Realtor really figured out who the other party is, what they really want out of the deal and what they are willing to give up for it?  If not… Then how can they be writing an offer that is most likely to be accepted?
  • Is the contract so buttoned up, that the other party could just sign it if the terms were acceptable?  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that 3/4 of the offers I receive have “stuff that needs to be fixed”.  Boxes left unchecked, questions that need to be answered, dates and deadlines that are unacceptable, or just silly clerical errors.  I kid you not, I once received an offer that was not signed! Now, as the Seller, I will counter the offer and this means I have more time to review any other offers that arrive (or are generated) in the meantime.

Having an edge in a negotiation is what I bring to the table for my clients.  A good real estate negotiation ends with the most money in your pocket, a timeline that works for you, stress and surprises at a minimum and a winning feeling for both parties. 🙂

If you can’t say you would use the Realtor again or recommend them to the people you care about, then something wasn’t done as well as it could have been!


And now… A true real estate story for you.  (I know you like these!!!)

The other day I was contemplating several deals I have going or just closed.  They had one thing in common.  Divorce.

Its a tricky situation.  As a Realtor I am working for both halves of the splitting couple, but sometimes it’s hard for them to imagine they are on the same team, so I have to work pretty hard to treat them both the same and act in both of their best interests.  In order to get them what they want (not to share a house anymore) we all need to work together.

There are many steps to divorce or separation.  Selling the house is just one of them.  If you have ever been through this you will know that guiding children safely through the split, officially announcing it to neighbors, friends, colleagues and family, and facing the challenges of packing/moving and resettling somewhere else is TOUGH!  On top of this, I’m the Realtor setting some strict guidelines for “not letting the cat of the bag” as far as the real estate sale goes.

1.  When people come to see your home for sale, you need to NOT talk to them about your motivations for selling.

2.  Stage the house so that its not too obvious that one spouse has left.  For Example: No dining furniture, but a living room full of furniture implies that you have split already and he got dining set when he left!  No wedding pictures, but a boatload of kid-with-one-parent pics, displayed.  A closet half-full of her clothes and shoes, nothing on his side though.  Or my personal favorite;  Nothing but left over pizza and beer and condiments in the fridge… And even the least intuitive of my clients are commenting that she probably moved out!

3.  If you tell the neighbors, be sure to ask them to respect your privacy and your ability to get the best price for your house.  Remind them a good price for your house is a positive thing for the neighbors too. Ask them not to reveal your impending divorce to a potential buyer, if asked.

4.  The yard sale.  Yep, another tell tail sign of a split is the type of things that appear in said yard sale.  NOTHING says divorce like a real estate for sale sign, a yard sale … And a wedding dress hanging from a tree!

Real Estate Negotiation

This picture could not do a better job of illustrating the situation at this Longmont house.  (Is it bad that I drove by, then stopped, jumped out with my phone and asked if I could take a picture of the dress in the tree?!)

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