By Ross Wilson
In the last column, I left off with you, as a listing agent, huddling with your seller client. Now, in the fourth of the series on offer negotiation, I offer some ideas about simplifying the process for your seller clients.
Rarely do clients immediately accept all the terms without question. However, at times, it’s merely their ego in play. They may just want to appear more confident and knowledgeable than they truly are. Or it may just be posturing. Never assume your seller fully understands or is comfortable with the procedure. Encourage them to ask questions; there are no dumb questions – only dumb answers. Bear in mind that selling a home is a rarity for them. KISS – keep it simple sweetheart.
At some point, one of the homeowners may offer tea or coffee or even an alcoholic beverage. This may be an attempt to be a gracious host, but it’s more likely an indirect effort to delay the inevitable decision. Let them do so, but for obvious reasons, you should decline the alcohol. Nevertheless, if they even hint they’d prefer to think about it overnight, encourage them to decide during the current meeting.
Not only will the buyers probably be waiting anxiously, given sufficient time and in the light of a new day, buyers can lose enthusiasm – or even withdraw their offer. For best advantage as well as out of respect for the buyers, your seller should strike while the iron is hot. Anyway, the offer probably technically expires that evening.
More often than not, your seller will reject the price. If you haven’t already gained acceptance of all other terms, try to narrow things down a little by asking if they approve of everything else about the offer. By so doing, you’re sending the message, consciously or subconsciously, that the offer is valuable enough to treat seriously. If they restate an earlier concern, of course, you must address it. Or if they’re disquieted about other lesser issues, you must deal with them too.
Tackle those before getting down to the bigger concerns. But if they declare that everything else is satisfactory, they’ll be hard pressed to raise those or any new objections again. Now you can focus on the main event – the price. However, if any unresolved issue is significant, such as the closing date or a condition, it may be appropriate to encompass that issue into the discussion about price.
It’s important for your client to realize that just because the price is unsatisfactory, the offer should not be summarily rejected. The buyer has clearly demonstrated their sincere intent to purchase their property (don’t refer to it as their home since that term can subliminally stimulate emotions that may only complicate matters), provided everyone can come to terms. And your sellers should return that respect by seriously entertaining their offer. After all, the buyers have affixed their signatures on the dotted line. All you have to do is negotiate the terms. In other words, it’s a starting point. Emphasize this.
Unless unusual circumstances prevail where one of the parties is under duress, or the local market strongly favours one party, the most effective method of negotiating a successful sale is to keep it balanced. Without compromise, there’s normally no sale and neither party achieves their goal. To help your sellers maintain a calm demeanour, make sure they understand that it’s a process, like baking bread. All the ingredients must be added in the correct proportions and appropriate steps followed to produce the final loaf. The offer is just the beginning of the negotiation process, with certain steps to be followed for the mutually intended result. Avoid any possibility of an adversarial attitude developing because such a negative stance could ultimately ruin the bread.
In the next of this series, I address an easily explainable menu of seller options when an offer is unacceptable.