So...You want to buy a house?


By Sara W.Peterson

Very seldom will an initial contract be accepted by the sellers. There is almost always something that they like and don't like about your offer. The purpose of negotiation is to establish a contract that is acceptable to both parties. If it isn't, there will most certainly be problems later. The following is a list of things to keep in mind while we horse-trade back and forth with the sellers:

  • Never accept ANY proposal immediately, no matter how good it may sound!
  • Never negotiate with yourself. You'll furnish the other side with ammunition they might never have gotten by themselves. Don't raise a bid or lower an offer without first getting a response.
  • We never cut a deal with someone who has to "go back and get the boss's approval." That gives the other side two bites of the apple to your one.
  • If you can't say yes, it's no. Just because a deal can be done, doesn't mean it should be done. No one ever went broke saying "no" too often.
  • Just because it may look non-negotiable, doesn't mean it is.
  • We will do our homework before we deal. Learn as much as you can about the other side. Instincts are no match for information or preparation.
  • Beware the late dealer. Feigning indifference or casually disregarding timetables is often just a negotiator's way of trying to make you believe he/she doesn't care if you make the deal or not.
  • A deal can always be made when both parties see their own benefit in making it.
  • Don't discuss your business where it can be overheard by others.
  • No one is going to show you their hole card. You have to figure out what they really want. Clue: Since the given reason is often not the real reason, you can usually eliminate the given reason.
  • Always let the other side talk first. Their first counter offer could surprise you and be better than you ever expected.

Portions excerpted from "Strategies to Help You Win in Negotiations" by Harvey Mackay in his Sacramento Bee Column - 6/10/96

Most negotiations have a happy outcome -- you see it, you make and offer, and with a little give-and-take you've bought it. Sometimes things don't turn out the way we wish them to. Maybe it was the seller holding on to an unrealistic selling price, maybe the inspections turned-up something bad, maybe another buyer made a better offer to the seller. Whatever the case, we'll analyze what went wrong together with you and re-institute the search for "your" home.

FSBOs: homes often present a special challenge. The sellers tend to be less aware of their statutory responsibilities of disclosure and have a view of the value of their home that is often very optimistic if not outright foolish. They sometimes even price their home on the "Better Fool" theory. This says that sooner or later a better fool than they will come along and buy it for an inflated price without looking too closely. We believe that should not be you playing the fool.

We prefer that our clients receive real value for their money and will suggest what you might offer to obtain that value whether it is a FSBO or MLS listed home. This is sometimes many thousands of dollars less than the sellers of a FSBO are asking -- and makes for tough, protracted negotiations. We will follow your instructions on how to proceed if you wish to make an offer to the seller and do everything in our power to make it happen. Value aside, this is an emotional decision as well and if you decide that this is the house for you, we'll help you buy it at the best terms that can be negotiated. This separates us from many traditional real estate brokerages.

You should know that our best advice to you is that you instruct us to tell the sellers that they are best served by having their own agent to lead them through the disclosure and escrow process. This helps protect you by adding disclosure counsel and helps ensure that the transaction actually closes escrow instead of hanging-up in the middle, costing you both money and time.

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