Tips for Negotiating with Real Estate Agents

Urban Editorial August 10, 20190 min read

When you’re on the hunt for a new home, building up strong relationships with a network of real estate agents soon becomes top of your priority list. Agents act as the gatekeepers between you and your dream home, and so getting on their good side is crucial to ensure you’re in the running amidst a crowd of competition. But when it comes to negotiating a deal that’s as equally good for you as it is the vendor, how do you toe the line between friendly and firm? If you want to know how to negotiate a great deal, you’ve first got to think about your tone and approach, conducting thorough research of the area, as well as having a good old fashioned positive attitude. We’ve collated some first-hand tips for negotiating with real estate agents to land yourself your ideal property.

1. Strike up a conversation

Real estate agents want what’s best for their client, the vendor, but that doesn’t mean that they’re out to get you either. The more contact you have with them, starting by simply striking up a conversation and talking about the area, the more they will be able to pick out your face in the crowd. Property negotiation is as much about connecting with a person as arguing about a home’s value. There’s no harm in extending the olive branch, and you may just be rewarded with some handy information about how the buyer prefers to communicate, or if they’re looking to sell immediately. This insight may inform the way you approach the purchase, such as by offering a shorter settlement period. The more you understand the vendor’s motivations, the more easily and reliably you can present yourself as the ideal buyer. Never underestimate the power of a hello and a how are you.

2. Do your homework

You wouldn’t try to write an essay without a completely foreign concept. This logic applies quite readily to your property negotiation preparation. Without a firm understanding of the market, backed up with tangible evidence of recent comparable sales in the area, you won’t be able to adequately construct your argument—and that’s what property negotiation essentially is. Without the facts and figures, a negotiation can risk roaming into emotional territory, blowing completely out of proportion without reason to ground it. For first home buyers and inexperienced buyers, the thought of negotiating with an agent can be incredibly daunting, because there’s no previous knowledge to back you up. Your best line of attack is read widely, and try to retain a few go-to figures to avoid being bamboozled by the experts.

You will also want to do a bit of background digging on your agent and agency. How do they do business? What are their expected timelines? How do they best communicate? Getting to know some context surrounding who you’re dealing with will lay the foundations for a great negotiation. If you weren’t aware that all offers are immediately communicated to the vendor, for example, then you might be still waiting after a week to hear back, and during that time have missed your window to up the ante.

3. Find your balance between flexible and firm

There’s nothing more off putting or desperate than a buyer who constantly goes back on their ‘final offer’. It tells the agent that your word doesn’t mean much, and also that you could probably be coerced into just about any situation. Similarly, a buyer who won’t budge from their first figure thrown into the conversation is also a turn off. A sale is a delicate art of negotiation. It will involve some back and forth, but its success also demands some boundaries. If you are in the position to begin your property negotiation, make sure that your limit is firm in your head, but that you ease into talking to the agent.

When it comes to the fine print of your offer, you will want to carefully consider whether you have any conditions, such as a cooling off period, sunset clause or extended settlement period. Unconditional offers will immediately stand out to a vendor, but they may not suit your requirements.

4. Don’t be afraid to drop in a plan B

Agents weren’t born yesterday. Understanding how to negotiate with a real estate agent also involves you appreciating that they do this every day. They will likely be aware of your tactics, and if you start to push too hard they will spot it in an instant. That said, it doesn’t hurt to think about how you come across, and try to gently suggest that there are other offers or options on the table. If you genuinely have a plan B and the home in question isn’t the be all and end all of your property dreams, then it certainly doesn’t hurt to drop it into the conversation. Ultimately, real estate agents want to sell the property to a suitable buyer, and if you’re leading the pack then they might think twice about having you drop out of the race.

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