How Do You Negotiate?
I got an email from a buyer a while back. I had met him at an open house I was holding. It wasn't my listing and he acted like he knew more about the listing than I did. Maybe so. There is a lot of information out there. I asked if he wanted to look at some comparable properties. He said maybe.
I got an email from him a few days later. "How would you negotiate for me?" he asked. I could tell from talking to him at the open that he had read about the bubble and then the shadow inventory, and he was sure prices were going down more. He told me about how much less than asking other homes were selling for. So I pretty much guess that more than anything, he wanted the deal of the century.
I wrote back: There are two ways to negotiate. you can negotiate from a position or you can negotiate from merit. If you want to negotiate from a position you are essentially saying that you won't go over $xxx,xxx for that house. Your reasoning might be comps or condition. But you take a stand and see if the seller rolls over. That would tell me that you don't really care about the house, you only care about getting a deal. On the other hand, if the house has merit, if it meets your needs, if you can afford it, if there isn't any other property that meets your needs as well, for the same price, then it's worth trying to find a way to make the purchase work so that the seller's needs are met as well.
He wrote back: No, I want to know how you will make the seller sell at a lower price.
I knew the seller had received an offer at a lower price and it didn't work out. It might now and I would help the buyer with it, but it had to make sense.
I wrote back: It sounds to me like you are trying to defeat the seller. That is one style of negotiating. It will work if the seller and his agent are both accommodaters. They may just roll over, and give you the house for what ever you want. But they didn't to the last person. If both the seller and you were compromisers, we might reach agreement, but you would have to give up some of your desired features. I really don't know what they are other than a lower price than the home is currently listed for. On the other hand, with an offer too low, as you suggested you might make, the seller might just withdraw. We would go no where with this if the other party will no longer speak to us. I suggest we try to collaborate with the listing agent and the seller. We'll need to negotiate more after the inspection and possibly after the appraisal. Some how we can tweak their needs with ours, once I know what yours are. I need to know why you want this house so I can build a case for you. Or maybe, there is a better house somewhere else that will work as well.
Apparently this buyer, a buyer who wouldn't sign a buyer's agency agreement, a buyer who didn't seem to have needs other than to get a house for way less than the listing price, a buyer who is perhaps, not a buyer at all, didn't like my idea that we try to work with a plan that would accomplish the goal of closing a sale. He seemed to want a negotiator who would help him make it fail. I didn't hear from him again, nor did I pursue him as a client. I don't think he really wanted to be a homeowner. I think he only wanted a deal.