This is the first in our new advice series to help buyers achieve a more satisfying home purchase.
What you’ll pay for a home depends on how well you negotiate an offer. Negotiations will be influenced by the sellers’ perception of how much you want their home. That’s why you need to watch your behavior when visiting a home for sale. If you think you’re too sharp to slip-up, keep reading.
I refer to the correct behavior as wearing your poker face, but it involves more than just controlling your non-verbal behavior. You also need to watch what you say and do.
Watch Your Non-Verbal Communication & Behavior
One of my repeat clients was president of a medical device company. He was a smart man, but had one of the worst poker faces! At an open house we attended he rushed from room to room clearly excited about the possibilities. I watched the seller’s agent watch my buyer. She was clearly attuned to his over the top level of interest. Fortunately, that wasn’t the home he made on offer on, but if it had been all negotiating power would have been lost. Right before our next showing I gently reminded him to wear his poker face.
Years ago when I was representing a seller a woman who had seen the condo came back during an open house. She not only stayed for an extended period, but started measuring some of the spaces. When her offer came in it was accompanied by pages of documentation by her agent on why the condo was overpriced. I advised my seller to hold firm on his price knowing how the woman had already mentally moved in. The buyer increased her offer twice before my seller gave a little on his asking price.
Don’t Answer Questions From The Seller’s Agent About Your Situation or Motivation
If you’re looking at homes downtown or within a few miles of downtown the seller’s agent will typically be present when you visit a home for sale. You will encounter varying levels of questioning trying to determine your situation and level of interest.
I worked with a couple moving from the suburbs into the city. Since seller agents are rarely at showings in the suburbs my buyers weren’t used to having an agent representing the seller present while they viewed a home and didn’t like the idea. I prepared them ahead of time that they might get anywhere from a few to several questions from the sellers’ agents. At one showing an assistant of a big name agent was present. He bombarded my buyers with questions.
How long have you been shopping for a home?
Why are you looking for a home?
Are you looking at other homes today?
Where are you moving from?
Is this space big enough for you?
What do you think of the home?
My buyers ignored every question! Not answering a question that reveals your situation or motivation isn’t being rude. It’s being a smart negotiator. If you aren’t comfortable ignoring a question, smile at the seller agent and ask her a question.
Watch What You Say & Do When A Seller Agent Isn’t There
Cameras and recording devices are no longer only multi-million dollar home accessories. Video doorbells, nanny cams and other recording devices are now commonplace. It’s best to assume that your entire visit to a home for sale is being recorded. Thus, don’t say or do anything you wouldn’t do in front of the seller’s agent.
If you want to discuss something with your spouse or your agent, lower your voice. Even better jot it down on a note and hand it to them.
Watch What You Say & Do Even After You’ve Left A Home
Back when 10 E Delaware was a new development some clients and I had lunch next door at the hotel after leaving the sales office. We were seated within earshot of another couple talking about their offer for a 10 E Delaware condo. Fortunately, for the other couple it was us and not someone on staff at 10 E Delaware who overheard them!