Do not underestimate the art of negotiation

Tim WaringHead of regional expansion at Lister Haigh

Nowadays there are many ways to sell your home. Whether you are an avid online follower of property portals or a believer in the more traditional approach, there are also a raft of options in between.

Whatever your choice. the basic process is one of matching buyer with seller and reaching a compromise as to price, and achieving this match is a function of the sales and marketing strategy that either you or your agent chooses to adopt.

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Skilful negotiation is the all-important conclusion of this activity but yet its importance is often underestimated.

Some individuals negotiate as part of their daily lives and this often shows when they are buying or selling a home. Yet this is not always advantageous as they can over analyse “the deal” as they try to find another angle to gain a competitive advantage in the hope that this will secure a better price, be that higher and lower depending on which side of the fence they sit.

By contrast, some can be almost naïve in their assessment of the sales process believing all that is said only to find others in the equation are, shall we say, a little economical with the truth.

As an agent of many years standing, I have seen most variants of how those wishing to buy or sell handle negotiations.

So as we look towards the New Year, wherever that might take us, here are a few simple negotiation tips that you might wish to bear in mind:

*If you are buying, why tell an estate agent that you making an “initial offer”? An amazing number of potential buyers do and express surprise when said offer is rejected.

*If you say you have sold your existing house, do please make sure you can prove it and quickly. Sold means you have already exchanged contract, for completed, not that you have just accepted an offer only the day before.

*If you consider yourself a cash buyer please don't convince yourself as such when only 50 per cent is your equity and the remaining 50 per cent is a mortgage from the likes of Santander. I cannot tell you how many times a punchy purchaser pushes to know the price for a quick deal and then introduces terms and conditions that create delay.

*If you are selling, why would a buyer offer you a higher price for your present home simply because without it you can't afford to buy elsewhere. Find a reason to prove why your home is worth more.

*Although at times it's obvious, don't volunteer information if you are involved with one of the three D's (Death, Divorce or Debt). Buyers will only make you a low offer if they believe there is a need to sell.

*When selling by choice, and you enthusiastically tell your agent you won't be selling the house “at a discounted price”, do remember a buyer is also purchasing by choice, rarely by necessity, and might equally take the view that he/she is not prepared to pay a premium price especially.

It is all a question of exploiting the strengths and weaknesses of the situation picking up on the small comments, checking the detail and knowing when a final offer really is a final offer. It is called the art of negotiation. Some might say that the skills used by estate agents on a daily basis, often in a highly charged emotional environment, might be useful to a certain group of politicians at the present tim but I will avoid further comment on that particular topic.

*Tim Waring is Head of Regional Expansion at Lister Haigh, www.listerhaigh.co.uk