Negotiations begin during the showing

Posted by on Tuesday, August 8th, 2017 at 11:12am.

You probably know that strong negotiators never give away their position. The fact that it is so easy for a home seller to do just that is one of the reasons why I advise all of my listing clients to be away from the house when it is shown.

Since you're offering your home as a For Sale by Owner, you obviously have to be there to conduct the tour, so you must be extremely careful.

Before the first buyers arrive, think of questions you may be asked and rehearse the answers, so that you can be polite without actually saying anything.

"Why are you selling?" is one of the first things people will ask. If you give away the fact that you've been transferred and need to be in another State by next month, or that your income has dropped and you can no longer afford the payments, you've just given away the strongest negotiating position anyone can have. That is the ability to walk away. Unless you're willing to take any offer at all, you mustn't give away the fact that you're in a hurry to sell.

Chatting with buyers can also lead you to say things that would discourage them from buying the house. You might let it slip that your next door neighbor is a real jerk. You might accidentally draw attention to closets that are too small or a kitchen arrangement that annoys you. So don't chat! In fact, try to move back and let them look without you hovering.

Do you owe it to buyers to tell them these things? No. The neighbor you hate could turn into their best friend. And the kitchen and the closets are things they can clearly see for themselves. Unless a problem involves the structural integrity of the house, you don't need to draw attention to things that annoy you.

You can also destroy your negotiating position by responding to questions like: "Would you take...?"  Unless the number is so far below your asking price that your immediate response is a firm "No," your best answer is to say that you might consider it if all the other terms were right.  Tell them that you'd need to see the offer in writing before you would think about it. Give them the form to fill out and return to you if they're serious. And don't promise to "hold" the house for them until they come back.

Remember that buyers who seek out For Sale by Owner listings are quite often looking for a bargain. They'll reason that you can give them a discount because you aren't paying an agent. No, you aren't. But as you've learned by now, you're definitely doing enough work to earn the fee that you would pay that agent.

Be careful - say as little as possible, and wait for the written offer.

To your successful negotiations.

P.S. When the offer arrives, it could contain surprises. My next message will alert you to things to watch for that could cost you money.

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