In today’s tough market, powerful negotiation skills are more important than ever. Are you undermining your negotiation success with scripts and strategies that contain a fatal flaw?

Agents have a wealth of places both online and offline to find strategies that work. Agent blogging sites are rich with great suggestions, many of which are from the best agents in the business. Nevertheless, many of these strategies still use manipulation or one-upmanship. The result is that these old approaches often undermine the agent’s success.

Here are three examples that illustrate "fatal flaws" that can undermine your negotiation success:

Objection #1: Our house is worth more — we have all these great upgrades!

Agent: "I’ve been in the business for 20 years and I can tell you right now, your purple plush carpet and your red-flocked wallpaper don’t add any extra value to the price. In my opinion, the best thing you could do is to strip the wallpaper, paint the walls beige, and expose the hardwood floors."

Objection #2: We want to think about it.

Agent: "I can certainly understand that you would want to think about making such a major decision. Here’s what I recommend that you do. Let’s write up the offer tonight and then you can sleep on it. I can present the offer tomorrow morning. Besides, I just read that interest rates are going up. That’s why I think it’s smart to write an offer now and get this house closed as soon as possible."

Objection #3: We would like you to advertise our house in the paper every week.

Agent: "I don’t believe in newspaper advertising. It’s a waste of time and money. At our company we like to do what works: Put a sign in the front yard, place your property in the multiple listing service, and give it great exposure on the Web. That’s how I’ll get your house sold — not by advertising it in the paper."

Three Fatal Flaws

1. Kill the "I"
The most important shift you can make when negotiating is to eliminate "I" language. This flaw appears in each of the examples above. When you use "I" language, you make the negotiation about you, not about what is in the best interest of your clients. Here’s how to reframe Objection #1 so that it no longer uses "I" language:

Agent: "Mr. and Mrs. Seller, to obtain the highest price possible for your property, it’s smart to make sure that your house appeals to as many people as possible. Although it sounds boring, there’s a reason that builders choose neutral carpets and beige walls — they appeal to more people. Also, many sellers have trouble letting go of their home. Changing the décor so it resembles the nearby model homes will help you obtain a higher price. It also makes it easier to leave your house when your transaction closes."

2. I’m in charge
One of the quickest ways to turn off any client is to attempt to manipulate them into something they do not want to do. One of the most important steps that you can take in any negotiation is to shift from trying to influence your client’s decision to providing the best possible information so that your clients can make the best possible decision. Here’s how to reframe Objection #2 so that it puts the buyer in charge:

Agent: "Purchasing a house is a major decision. Is there any more information that you need about the comparable sales, the neighborhood or other factors that will assist you in this process? If not, when’s the best time to check back with you about your decision — tonight around 7 p.m. or tomorrow morning before noon?

3. I’m the expert — you’re not

Today’s Gen X and Gen Y buyers normally investigate a substantial number of houses before they contact a Realtor. They also investigate the purchasing process as well. As a result, today’s clients are among the most sophisticated and knowledgeable first-time buyers ever. In general, Gen X prefers to go it alone and do their own research. Gen Y typically relies more on their peer group in terms of seeking advice as opposed to their Realtor.

One of the challenges in each of the agent responses above is that the agent sets himself up as the expert. Here’s a different way to respond to Objection #3:

Agent: "Mr. and Mrs. Seller, to obtain the highest price possible for your property you need maximum exposure to the marketplace. Your property will be advertised not only in the newspaper, but on the multiple listing service, on more than 40 different real estate portals that reach millions of consumers every month. Is that a strategy that works for you?"

Need more help in controlling the negotiation conversation? Then don’t miss next week’s column.

Bernice Ross, CEO of, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at and find her on Twitter: @bross.


What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.

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