Selling your property yourself means the negotiating is up to you.
But don't worry. It's not that big a deal at all.
Knowing the tricks of the trade - which we divulge below - will make a huge difference to your confidence and performance.
The same "golden rules" of negotiating are used by children working on market stalls in the Third World as by multimillionaire business people.
You are never in a hurry to sell. You are not desperate at all.
There's someone else who's very interested. This introduces the idea of competition for a scarce resource - your humble home !
The other party is suddenly in a rush? Well you'll try your best to help them, but sorry you won't be rushed into deciding anything without thinking about it first
Every time you make a concession this is a very big deal. It must be matched by a similar gesture from the other party - certainly before they try to get another concession from you.
Your asking price is only a cover for your real price:
Agreeing on a price: You say Three. The buyer says one. You both know that you will agree on two. So it's always essential to work out your strategy in advance ie decide on your asking price and know your bottom line price (see below).
It's useful to have an absent authority who you must refer to. It's they who are the tough person who keeps saying no. You are the reasonable one. In this way you buy yourself time and remain the approachable one by saying this other person is the problem. For example they could be a relative who has an interest in the property.
Always leave the door open. If the negotiation breaks down keep it friendly. Always allow the other person to feel comfortable about approaching you again. You'd be surprised how often circumstances change.
That's it really. The only other thing to focus on is the tone you adopt when negotiating. You are friendly but firm. Simply saying no is easy. Practice saying it !
Ideally you simply set a price and that's what the buyer pays.
That might work, particularly if your property is in demand. However it is likely that you need to be flexible because "everything is negotiable".
The asking price vs the bottom line
Firstly check out how to value your property
You can work out from that what your initial asking price should be.
Set this asking price slightly higher than you expect to get. This means you can come down a bit in negotiation without having really given anything.
Meanwhile you decide on a minimum price that you will accept. Under no circumstances must you be persuaded to go below this "bottom line" price.
This is your secret. You never mention this figure. But you position every price discussion with it in mind.
For example: Your asking price is £200,000. The buyer seems to agree to this. Your secret minimum price is £175,000.
The buyer then starts fussing about their survey revealing some problems. Accordingly they want to drop the price to £185,000.
You sound a bit disgruntled. You say you'll have to think about it.
Secretly you know you're sitting pretty. After much thought you come back
to them to say you will accept it. You could add that it's only IF
they offer some corresponding concession to show good faith
- for example they agree to buy immediately.
When considering your price you may want to take into account the saving you are making by selling yourself and avoiding paying agent's commission. You may wish to pass some of this on to the buyer by lowering the asking price. Or you might prefer to keep this in reserve to offer as an incentive if proceedings slow down.
If you have more than one offer take time to consider them carefully.
It doesn’t always follow that the highest bid is the best – for instance you may get a lower cash bid from someone who isn’t selling their own home - so isn't stuck in a chain which can get slowed down, or collapse.
It’s worth having a few incentives to pull out of your hat. Think about fittings you might throw in – white goods (fridges and cookers) are always popular. Do you really want to take them with you?
You could try to force the buyer's hand by setting a time limit on the sale. You could suggest a month to complete or the house goes back on the market, for instance.
Try to look at your home through a buyers eyes.
If you were buying how would you try to lower the price? For instance are there any faults with the house that could be used to lever the price down?
Be prepared either to offer to drop the price or to hold your ground in advance.
Remember, however pleasant the buyer appears, they’re not really
your friend. Your only concern is to get the best price for your house that
you can. You can be friends afterwards !
Remember that it is you decides who to sell to, for how much and when. Be polite and be honest but remember you hold the whip hand in the negotiation.
This is a classic tactic that an experienced negotiator will use. They try to force you into accepting a low offer by saying you have to accept it immediately. Call their bluff.
They say: they will have to go elsewhere if you don't accept their offer right now?
You say: you're sorry that they are such a rush. You appreciate how difficult
it must be for them. But you also have another option. You have just had
Tell them politely that your door will stay open. You're happy to keep talking to them but you need time to compare the two offers and certainly can't respond immediately.
If you ever feel rushed, be prepared to break negotiations for a day or
two to give yourself time to think. Say you need to speak to the absent
Letting the buyer stew for a while can be a good tactic. It reinforces the idea that you are not at all desperate to sell and certainly won't be pushed around. However:
If you go off on holiday tell your prospective buyer beforehand. Don't
just disappear for a couple of weeks. It's rude and it's bad for business.
Always aim to respond to any questions within a day or two.
Keep up the momentum. If you don't, the longer the process goes on the more you risk being affected by "events" - other people’s problems and so on.
Don't humiliate them - for example by responding to their tactics with
your own deadlines which will make it difficult for them to come back to
you without losing face.
No one likes to have to admit that their tactic was a load of guff. No one likes to crawl back with a weak excuse or look stupid. So never put them on the spot.
Here is a little known but very important consideration: People tend to only want to deal with people they like.
If you are pleasant, direct, open and friendly with people they will respond much more positively.
Deal with problems and set backs humorously.
While you'd think that "business is business", the way even the
most serious business people actually operate is from a sentimental viewpoint.
They like: they buy. They no like; they walk away.
It's possible that circumstances will change. The people
you were secretly furious with for pulling out after a lot of talk might
come back to you. If you vented your spleen at them it's unlikely they will.
The tough negotiator is a bad negotiator. A bad negotiator is exemplified
by the so called Dragons of the BBC TV series.
They can only get away with being so unpleasant to people because they are in a position of power. They have the money.
Sadly most of these somewhat over-rated individuals seem to enjoy turning this power into a rather unattractive spectacle of personal humiliation.
Even if they do a deal with someone they always seem to ask for too much. This will only lead to resentment and bodes ill for the future partnership.
Now the problem with this is that if the tables were to turn, the person they had been unnecessarily rude to or unreasonable with, would be very unlikely to want to deal with them.
This applies particularly to a property deal. With all the ins and outs of property chains etc it may well be that the tables do get turned. So don't be rude. Keep it civil. Act fairly.