10 Real Estate Negotiation Tactics That Can Really Backfire

On the lookout for a new home? First, peruse our list of negotiation dos and don’ts, culled from the advice of industry professionals. The bottom line? As you embark on the process, be your own advocate, but make sure you also respect the sellers' time and heed their emotional cues. By avoiding these all-too-common behaviors, you can ensure a win-win deal.

  1. Don’t trust “love at first sight”

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    Inspect House Before Buying

    Do your homework. You may fall in love with a property, but that doesn't mean you should rush to meet the seller's asking price. Employ a professional home inspector to ensure that there are no hidden issues like structural damage or pest infestations. If the inspection turns up a major problem, you may want to reconsider making an offer. If, however, you uncover less significant issues, you can use those flaws to your advantage in negotiating a better deal.

    Related: 10 Simple Mistakes That Could Cost You Your Dream Home

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  2. Don’t speak first

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    Real Estate Counter Offer Strategy For Buyer

    Wait for the seller's initial offer. After they state their price, wait before making a counteroffer. Silence is a powerful bargaining tool that can be hard for a seller to read. You may find the seller more willing to drop the price after a good long pause.

    Related: 11 Sneaky Ways to Save When Buying a Home

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  3. Don’t go low

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    Lowball Offer

    Offer a price that's appropriate for the property. An under-market bid triggers a few problems. First, it can insult the homeowner. Second, it can reflect poorly on your knowledge of the local real estate market. Offer what you think is fair to both you and the owner, taking into account the total cost of the transaction, not just the gross sales price.

    Related: The Top 10 Costly Mistakes Home Buyers Make

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  4. Don’t haggle

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    Haggling House Price

    Do, however, engage in honest give-and-take. Avoid making incremental offers, which may frustrate the seller. In addition, trying to snag furniture or appliances for free may sour the deal. If you see decor you really like, though, offer to purchase it.

    Related: Buyers Pay More for Homes with These 12 Features

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  5. Don’t show your hand

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    Home Buyer Negotiation Tactics

    Use discretion when offering key information about the progress of your house hunt. Keep your options open and research other properties. Even if this house is the one and only property you want, signal to the seller that you are serious but not desperate.

    Related: 11 Myths Home Buyers Should Never Believe

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  6. Don’t avoid tough questions

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    Home Buying Questions

    Asking tough questions demonstrates that you know what you’re doing and what you want. Pose your questions with grace, and be prepared for evasive answers. If you don't find out what you need to know, ask your broker to speak with their broker privately.

    Related: 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Realtor

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  7. Don’t ignore stress

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    Seller Incentives

    Read body language and emotional cues. Is your potential home seller feeling stressed about the upcoming move? If so, offer a leaseback as part of the deal. Being willing to rent the property back to the original owner for 30 to 90 days could provide the seller with the extra incentive she needs to accept your offer.

    Related: Ready to Sell? 17 Things to Do First

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  8. Don’t forget home repairs

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    Negotiating House Price After Inspection

    The price and location may be perfect, but what about those cracked bathroom tiles? While a seller retains the prerogative to sell a house “as is,” it is the buyer’s job to notice necessary repairs, make a comprehensive list, and use those must-do repairs as a bargaining chip.

    Related: 10 Reasons to Buy an “Ugly” Home

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  9. Don’t skip the game

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    Negotiating Buying A House

    A smooth, easy negotiation may be possible, but it isn't always desirable. If you skip the ritual back-and-forth, the seller may feel he hasn't secured the best deal and back out. Some creative tension makes both parties feel they’ve come away winners.

    Related: Buyer Beware: 9 Real Estate Scams to Watch Out For

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  10. Don’t fake it

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    Real Estate Etiquette

    Authenticity is the linchpin for any successful negotiation. Strive to keep your own stress level at a minimum, and be kind to the seller as you investigate all aspects of a potential sale. You’ll get the best value by staying true to your own values.

    Related: The 7 Most Annoying Things About Buying a Home

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  11. See the House of the Week

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    Discover and admire beautiful and innovative home architecture, from grand Victorians to quaint cabins and all the styles in between. Take a look at the latest images and inspiration!