Powerful negotiators know how to survive in any market. Do you have the necessary skills to cope with today’s shifting market?
Parts one and two of this series looked at many of the common mistakes that poor negotiators make. The next two weeks will be devoted to identifying the language that can undermine your negotiation success.
4. Don’t ever describe any buyer or seller in derogatory terms
This seems obvious, but it’s common for agents to refer to buyers who make low offers as “lowballers,” “bottom-feeders,” “chiselers” and other unflattering terms. It’s also common for agents to refer to sellers as being “greedy” or “stupid” when the sellers insist on overpricing their property. Making these types of remarks about your client or another agent’s client only reflects badly on you. It also sets up a difficult negotiation situation because once you place a negative label on a client, you have to overcome the negative label as well. For example, if your buyers purchase a property where you called the seller “greedy” and the seller refuses to do some of the unreasonable repairs that the buyers may request, then your buyers are much more likely to become angry. Furthermore, you can be confident that your buyers will parrot back to you how greedy the sellers are by not responding to their request. In fact, it could cost you the transaction. Remember, when it comes to negotiation, your mother was right. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
5. Substitute factual descriptions for emotionally charged words
One of the greatest challenges you will face in a slowing market is to decide how you will approach sellers when you have a low offer. The following script is one that works almost every time:
Mr. and Mrs. Seller, I would have liked nothing better than to have brought you a full-price offer. That would make my job very easy. Instead, my clients have elected to make an offer that is substantially below your asking price. About 50 percent of the time, we can put these offers together. I would like to ask that you give me a counteroffer in order to determine whether this offer will be part of the 50 percent that will actually sell.
6. Don’t get mad — get even!
Every so often, sellers may become so angry at a low offer that they are ready to cancel your listing, even if you aren’t responsible for the low offer. If the sellers are so irate that there is no way they will do a transaction with the buyer, here’s a script that normally defuses the situation.
Mr. and Mrs. Seller, there are three ways to handle this situation. You can elect not to make a counteroffer or you can counter at full price. If you are so angry that you don’t want to have anything to do with this buyer, however, you could write a counteroffer over asking price.
I have used this script many times and had two sellers who did counter over asking price. What began as a very volatile situation became something that gave the sellers a sense of power. “We sure showed those buyers!” Furthermore, instead of feeling frustrated over not selling, the sellers actually were laughing. It had never occurred to them that if someone was unrealistically low they could make a counteroffer that was unrealistically high.
7. Shift from “I” language to “you” language
When you use the word “I,” the focus is on you. An important shift to make is to eliminate “I” language wherever possible. For example, if you say, “I think you should counter at $375,000,” the emphasis is on you rather than on what the seller wants. In contrast, when you use the word “you,” the emphasis falls upon your client. “It’s your house and it’s your decision. Where would you like to make your counteroffer?” Another word to avoid is “we.” When “we list your house,” when “we get an offer,” and when we “close the transaction,” “we” end up having to pay when things go wrong.
Do you want more tips on the language that can undermine your negotiation success? If so, don’t miss Part 4.
Bernice Ross, national speaker and CEO of Realestatecoach.com, is the author of “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters” and “Who’s the Best Person to Sell My House?” Both are available online. She can be reached at email@example.com or visit her blog at www.LuxuryClues.com.