The DIY Guide To Selling Your Own Home

MAKE MY DAY – dealing with offers / Negotiating Tips

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.


These are the "golden rules" of negotiating

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 !


The Price

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".

What often happens is that last minute, supposedly unforeseen circumstances, are bought into the talks. The buyer uses them to justify reducing the price.

Setting Your Two Key Prices

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.


The Quality of The Offer

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.


Keep Incentives in Reserve

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?


If Negotiations Get Stuck

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.

Know Your Enemy

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.

No more Mr Nice Guy

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.


Take your time. Don’t be hurried.

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 another offer.

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 authority.

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:


Be responsive and available

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.

Never put the other party into a face losing situation

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.

A major secret about negotiating

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.

Always "leave the door open"

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.

Don't be taken in by the myth of the tough negotiator

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.



How to sell Your Own Home Guide Contents


How to Sell Your Own Home Guide - Summary

The Pros & Cons

The Valuation - How to Set the Right Price

Legal Advice When Selling Your Own Home

Marketing Your Own Home Without an Estate Agent

The Description - How to Describe Your Property

Preparing Your Home to Sell

Viewings It's showtime folks

Dealing with offers - Tips and the Golden Rules to Negotiating

Exchanging Contracts and legal stuff



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