Keep That Mouth Shut! 4 Things Sellers Should Never Say When Negotiating a Home Sale in Seattle

How NOT to negotiate when you’re selling your home in Seattle:

Negotiate with A Real Estate Agent When Selling Home
Home Sellers Beware: Less is more! Do NOT say these things when selling your home…

When you’re using an agent she SHOULD, heaven help us, prevent you from these embarrassing gaffes… (One sweet trick is to never let the buyer and seller meet each other….) However, if you’re trying to sell your house yourself, bless your heart, these are some little mistakes that could cost you big money.

Imagine this scenario…

Sell Your Seattle Home With A Real Estate Agent Who Can Negotiate
When they arrive, the buyers are very excited about your home. Will they decide to close or will your your poor negotiating skills drive them away?

The doorbell rings, and you’re expecting them, so you put on your best-winning smile and open the door. And there they stand looking slightly nervously uncomfortable, but still with bright, eager hope radiating from their faces – the prospective buyers of the home you’re trying to sell. Things go well for a bit, but then you mention one of the things sellers should never say in closing a home sale in Seattle.

The couple’s faces droop a little, and they cast anxious, sidelong glances at each other. “Ruh-Roh!” And then, in your oblivious eagerness to close the sale, you say another of those things you shouldn’t. And then maybe another. In short order, that nice couple is hustling back out your door, making thin promises to call you and then striding briskly and determinedly toward their car. And then they’re gone – and so is the sale.

Don’t let this happen to you!

4 Things Sellers Should Never Say When Negotiating a Home Sale in Seattle

Things Sellers Should Never Say When Closing a Home Sale in Seattle

1. Do NOT Claim Your House Is In Pristine Condition

Absolute statements, especially in the initial stages of real estate negotiations, are best avoided. You may think your house is in perfect condition (or at least want the potential buyer to think that), but this is a big foot-in-the-mouth thing to say. The reality is that no home is in perfect condition. There is always something that needs to be repaired or replaced or improved.

Even brand new construction homes, like the one my sister bought in Shoreline (her second home… bought from the builder…part of a connected townhouse he constructed for HIS MOTHER to live in), can be full of problems. She had him on the phone almost every month asking for his help fixing problems that came up after construction and were covered by his builder’s warranty. (Did I mention that she was a good negotiator?)

2. “You are our second/tenth/thirtieth showing…”

Negotiating Your Home Sale
Saying the wrong thing can make your buyers feel like a fish out of water. Bah-da-dum! (That was a rim shot, obviously – writing out sound effects is hard! ) Just keeping it fun here, folks. This piece of art is actually a chalk fish drawing that part of an art display at the Seattle Viaduct before it was torn down.

This doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing to everybody, but it could make the buyers get a little squirmy. Of all the things you could say to a potential buyer in closing a home sale in Seattle, this is the one most open to interpretation. The buyer will take it to mean whatever she wants it to mean.

For example, if you’ve had only a handful of showings, the buyer will likely interpret that to mean that the price is too high and she will be afraid she’s overpaying for your property.  If, on the other hand, you’ve had lots and lotsa showings, the buyer might take that to mean that something pretty major is wrong with the house. “Why did all those other people pass it by? What’s wrong with it that I’m missing?” This is the classic concern about stale MLS listings.

So you shouldn’t voluntarily offer any information about the number of showings (or any offers made).

3. “Sure, we can negotiate on price.” (Doh!)

Yes, being flexible and willing to negotiate is usually a good and necessary thing. Many buyers like to feel that they’re getting a good deal by negotiating the price down a little bit. Bear in mind, though that Seattle tends to be a seller’s market and many homes that are listed for sale in hot areas are actually negotiated UP on price, by involving multiple buyers!

Regardless, you don’t want to give the impression at the very outset that you are ready to give way on what was thought to be a pretty firm price.

Besides, the price is only ONE ingredient in a good offer. Giving way on price right out of the gate may mean that you lose money in other areas as well. Once you’ve started giving concessions, the buyer feels “rewarded” and will typically keep asking for things until you give a firm “no.” (This might remind you of negotiating with a two year old.)

The best policy is, leave the showings and price negotiations to your agent. After all, that’s why you hired her, isn’t it? So here’s the best answer to buyers’ loaded questions about price: “You’ll need to speak to my real estate agent on that.” Oh, yeah! Music to my ears!

4. “I won’t take less than a ‘million-billion dollars’ for home!”

Just like you don’t want to give away the farm when the buyer asks you to drop the price on your home for sale, you don’t want to overprice the house either.

A sellers agent who loves negotiaging.
Breaking the mold: A proud American who loves to negotiate!

When it comes to pricing, you and I will have a down-to-earth conversation about the price you could expect to get for your home as-is and if you fixed it up a little bit. I do not like to take listings where the seller is insistent upon overpricing the home beyond what I think it will sell for. Overpriced homes languish on the market and ultimately sell for less than they might have if they were more attractively priced and presented right out of the gate.

Let’s say your home is in a “Tier 2” quality band, but you want to price it as a “Tier 3” house. All the buyers who can afford a “Tier 3” house will look at your house and say, “Meh, that does not compare well to these Tier 3 houses, I think it should be a Tier 2 house…” and they won’t make an offer. Meanwhile, Tier 2 home buyers, who WOULD love to buy your home are not looking at it because it is outside of their price range.

If you let it be known right up front that you are intransigent – that you are unwilling to be flexible and negotiate – well, then, you have pretty much made sure that there will be no sale.

Haggling and negotiating is just part of the process. Some people are wheeler-dealers who really love this part of the process. Many Americans ABHOR negotiating, though. It is not part of our culture.

In real estate, negotiation is expected by most people and enjoyed by some, especially buyers who are trying to get a “good deal.” If you as the seller shut down all possibility of negotiating on your listing, at the very beginning, potential buyers will feel defeated and just give up. Even a token concession can make them feel like they’re gaining ground and feeling out your position. If word gets out that you’re inflexible on price, you may find that buyers are avoiding your home.

Be careful to avoid these four things you should never say in closing a home sale in [market city]. But you also need to say the RIGHT things to close a sale, and that’s where your agent comes in.


Emily Cressey

Emily Cressey is a real estate broker residing in Lake Forest Park, WA who services the Greater Seattle area including Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Brier, Lynnwood, Kenmore, Bothell and Edmonds, WA.

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