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Haggling down home and car prices like a pro
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If the "higher authority" tactic is used on you, return to your original position. For example: A refrigerator is listed at $1,300. You offer $1,100. The salesman says he can sell it for $1,200 if the sales manager approves. When the sales manager says to you, "I understand that you're offering $1,200," your response should be, "No, your salesman offered $1,200. I'm offering $1,100."

Never say yes to the first proposal -- The seller will wonder if he set the price too low and whether he is about to "lose" the negotiation. "You want to ask for more because you want to allow the other person to get a win," Dawson says.

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Make sure to flinch -- The most common tactical mistake that consumers make is to remain calm in the face of a proposal, Dawson says. It's better to flinch -- to appear shocked and surprised by an "outrageous" offer, even if it's not really unreasonable. You might think a stoic demeanor looks professional, but in the haggling business it will cost you.

Squeeze your opponent -- Dawson calls "the vise" one of the most effective tactics: "You say, 'I'm sorry, but you'll have to do better than that.' Then you shut up." Chances are that you'll get a more reasonable offer. Too many people, says Dawson, just can't stay quiet, they blink and fill in the silence with words that drain all the power out of their rejection.

Never offer to split the difference in price -- Always wait for the other side to split the difference; it gives your opponent a feeling of winning and, if you split the difference again, it'll be in your favor.

Save a small concession that you're willing to give up at the end so the other side can feel the satisfaction of winning something.

You might not feel comfortable using these tactics but, the experts say, they'll be used on you.

When you plan to buy something expensive, you might want to consider practicing on salespeople beforehand. Simply being alert as you go from car lot to car lot, or house to house, can educate you in a hurry. In addition to brushing up on your skills, you'll get a good idea of what's a fair price.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Updated: July 31, 2006
 
 
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