What to do when the offers
come in -- Page 2
If you do it yourself, "Don't be emotional; don't
get personal about it, don't get insulted," says Eric Tyson,
co-author of "House Selling for Dummies." "It's someone
else's money and they're not going to be throwing it at you,"
low-ball offer? Say "no thanks" and move on.
When you know the buyer
What if you have to negotiate
with someone you know? Almost one-third of owner-represented homes are sold to
friends, relatives and acquaintances, according to figures from the National Association
Shell once sold a home to the friend of a friend who
was also going to be a co-worker. "I found it awkward to negotiate
in person," he remembers.
"So I suggested, and they
agreed, that we do it all on e-mail," Shell says. "You can do it without
taking too much risk of offending each other.
it a little more objective and rational," he says.
It might also be another one of those situations where
you want someone else to handle the face-to-face dickering. "I
think I would have bargained harder with a stranger," Shell
One of the best (and most confusing) situations for an owner is
interest from multiple buyers. If it happens, make the most of it.
"Get multiple bids and play everyone off each other until someone
wins," says Shell.
Shell sold a home in Boston, back in the 1980s when
the market was red hot. "We posted an asking price of $250,000,"
Two parties were interested. The first offered the
asking price. He then went to the second couple and told them that
the current bid was $250,000 and asked: Do you want to bid? They
came back with $275,000.
Shell then went back to the first group. "They
were outraged," he says. "They said, 'We bid the asking
price. How could you not give us the house?'"
But you can't let buyers guilt you into lowering the
price. The value of any home? What the seller can get.
a buyer's agent
Just because you don't have an agent doesn't mean your buyer does
not. How do you feel about negotiating with someone who bargains
for a living?
"They obviously have a lot of experience negotiating,"
says Tyson. "But you have the upper hand if you have the house
their client wants." And "don't say anything to an agent
you wouldn't say to the buyer," he advises.
You know what price you want. Just
be willing to walk away.
Some tips for keeping it simple:
- Don't let anyone turn negotiations
into a marathon. Ask buyers to cut to the chase. Then accept, decline or tell
them you'll consider it. If the offer is too low, you can simply state why they're
not in the ballpark. But don't let them turn your explanation into an opportunity
to wear you down. You're in charge. That means you control the price, any access
to you and the house, and the amount of time you're willing to give them.
- An offer isn't really an offer until it's in writing.
Unless a buyer is willing to put a pen to paper, don't waste your
price only. Want to simplify the negotiations? Don't let the buyer cloud the transaction
with haggling over points and closing. That's a financing issue, and it's not
your problem. You set the price for the house. If a buyer needs to renegotiate
his financing, let him take it up with his bank.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. If negotiating isn't
your strong suit, it might be worth the money to hire an agent.
Are you a people pleaser; someone who wants to make
sure that everyone leaves the table happy? "That's the kind
of person who ought to have a professional," says Shell.
Buyers will try all kinds of tricks including disapproval,
outrage, threats, wheedling, sob stories, and even tears to get
the price and concessions they want. If you can't keep a cool, detached
demeanor, either cut them loose or bring in a pro.
"When you're selling your own
property," says Shell, "your own personality as a negotiator will be
much more of a factor then if a broker is doing it."
Dratch is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.