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Haggling down home and car prices like a pro
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The most important thing you need to know is what constitutes a fair price for what you want to buy. For things such as appliances and jewelry, you can get a good idea by visiting several stores.

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For houses, find out prices paid recently for comparable houses in similar neighborhoods. Many real estate salespeople willingly share the information about homes they've recently sold. Also, an increasing number of local property authorities let you search their databases of property sales via the Web.

For automobiles, find how much the dealer paid for the vehicle, then negotiate a price that includes a fair profit. is a fine place to find out the invoice price of a car as well as how much the manufacturer has provided the dealer in holdback. Don't know what holdback is and why it's important? The site tells you.

Intellichoice is another option for automobile pricing information.

But what if you discover that you and the seller share the same priority: You both want to get the best price possible? Then it's time for "power negotiating," says Roger Dawson, author of "Secrets of Power Negotiating."

You are a power negotiator, he says, if you get the deal that you want and the other person believes that he or she has won the negotiation.

Haggle or be haggled
Dawson lists tactics that sellers -- and smart buyers -- use when haggling for big-ticket items:
Tactics used
1. Invoke higher authority
2. Never say yes to the first proposal
3. Make sure to flinch
4. Squeeze your opponent
5. Never offer to split the difference in price
6. Save a small concession

Invoke higher authority -- In this tactic, the buyer and seller arrive at a tentative agreement, then one party has to get someone to OK the deal. Anyone who has haggled with a car salesperson is familiar with this tactic: You arrive at a price, then the salesperson has to get the sales manager's approval.

Buyers use this tactic, too. The wife can say she loves the house, but apologetically explains to the real estate agent that her husband won't budge unless the price is reduced. Later, they agree to buy the house if an inspector (a higher authority) finds no serious defects and a bank (a higher authority) will lend the money.

Next: "When you plan to buy something expensive ..."
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