Successful real estate agents come from all walks of life, work in different markets, and have processes and sales methods that are unique to them. But good agents also have many of the same traits in common. They’re go-getters, multi-taskers, decision makers, expert communicators. They’re adaptable, flexible, creative, and passionate. And they are really good at negotiating.
Negotiation is a big part of buying and selling property, and it is both an art and a science. Top agents and real estate brokers understand the careful balance between asking for what you want without pushing too far. If negotiation isn’t your strong suit, consider these things to help you negotiate like a pro.
The goal in any negotiation is to get the best deal. Understanding the needs of your clients will help you determine what they define as a good deal. Maybe they want top dollar for their home and are willing to sit and wait. Maybe you have sellers who want to sell fast and don’t care about taking a hit on the price, or you’re working with first-time homeowners on a budget. Aim high, and ask for exactly what your client wants. Go into it assuming you won’t get it all, but aiming high gives you the best shot at getting as close to your clients’ definition of a “good deal” as possible.
Know Your Walking-away Point
Starting high is important, but so is knowing what your bottom line is. You should walk into negotiations knowing the absolute lowest you can go, and be willing to walk away if certain demands are not met. And you can’t just say you’re going to walk away, you have to actually do it. If you waiver on this, it could hurt your credibility. Discuss the bottom line with your clients and commit to honoring it. Practice handling low-ball offers with confidence.
Know When To Use “We” Vs. “I”
A successful negotiation happens when both parties feel like they got what they wanted. Compromises have to be made on both sides, but a successful real estate negotiation is a team effort. Sometimes, using the term “we” can help bring both sides together and help everyone think about the negotiations as a team effort. Using phrases like “how can we come to an agreement?” or “what can we do to move forward?” brings a sense of unity to the table. You may get a lot farther when you make it clear that you’re willing to see all sides of the deal.
There are times, especially when you can’t (or won’t) budge on a certain request, that using “I phrases” may work better. Saying things like “I can’t make that happen” or “I don’t have the authority to make those changes” humanizes you. It allows the other party to see you as an individual with limits and boundaries, and makes it easier for them to respect them.
It is easy to get elevated and excited during negotiations. This can be a time-sensitive, high-energy, sometimes stressful part of the home buying and selling process. But it is important to stay calm, be aware of your body language and tone, and listen. Everyone wants to be heard, so remember to listen to the reasoning and requests of the other side, as well as the needs and expectations of your client. Listen to more than just the demands. Listen for the reasons behind the demands so you can find ways to work around them or accommodate them, based on your situation. The other party will be more likely to listen to your requests if they feel like you are listening to theirs.
Don’t Take It Personally
It is easy for your ego to get in the way of a successful negotiation. Everyone can get so wrapped up in wanting to “win” that they let the facts and figures slide and focus more on getting more than they give. Check your ego at the door and come to the negotiation table with one goal: to get your client what they need while remaining professional and working with integrity.
Keep Non-Verbal Communication In Check
It can take some time to master your real estate poker face, but it is important to be aware of what you’re saying when you’re not saying anything. As the negotiations get heated, check your body language, your facial expressions, and your tone. Are you sitting with your arms crossed? Are you rolling your eyes? Are you coming off as too cocky?
Remember to take deep breaths and do a quick self-analysis once or twice throughout the negotiation to make sure your body language says “I’m listening and I’m here to make this work.”
Negotiating takes practice. Top agents and brokers learn something new every time they walk into negotiations, and take what they learn to be stronger and more confident the next time around. If the negotiation phase still makes you a little uneasy, or you just want to step up your game, consider taking an online real estate course to help you learn the tips and tricks of getting what you (and your client) need.