You negotiate every day. With your kids, your partner, people who don’t keep left on the footpath… It’s also a critically important aspect of your role as a buyers’ agent.
Despite its negative associations, negotiation is a skill and leads to definitive outcomes for your clients. And whether you are successful or decide to move on, your perception of the negotiation process plays a big part in how you play the game.
Shelley Horton, Director of Albion Avenue, says it’s all about your mindset.
“From the get-go, it’s about understanding what you’re feeling and getting your mindset right for your first interaction with the selling agent,” she says.
“First impressions count. You need to always have the end goal in sight – representing your client – and not let personalities or egos get in the way.”
Rich Harvey, CEO and Founder of propertybuyer, agrees, saying your approach going into a negotiation really can impact the outcome.
“I believe everything is negotiable and that negotiations should be win-win,” he says. “It should never be about doing the other party out of a fair deal. Playing games with agents and their vendors is never the right thing to do.”
Harvey says if you’re considering a property for your client, you should be upfront about it.
“When I walk into a property, a good agent will usually ask me what I think of the property, if I’m interested and what I think it’s worth,” he says. “And I enjoy having a general discussion about the property and its pros and cons.
“But if I’m going to make an offer on behalf of my client, I tell the agent upfront. I let them know that I believe the property meets the criteria my client is looking for, that I will conduct further research and come back with an offer.
“I find the agent always appreciates my candour and it sets a stronger foundation for later negotiations.”
Horton and Harvey agree that buyers’ agents must treat selling agents with respect because they are your suppliers.
“As a buyers’ agent, you’re a repeat buyer,” says Harvey. “We are representing the buyer, the selling agent is representing the vendor and we have to come to a mutually-beneficial agreement for both parties.
“Negotiation is like a game. There are rules of conduct and you should always act professionally. Sometimes there’s no outcome – it’s a no deal – but even this should be handled respectfully.”
Horton says to achieve this, buyers’ agents should be considered and educated.
“Sometimes it’s hard working out what to say and what to keep close to your chest,” she says.
“You always have to have your client’s best interests in mind, but it’s important to establish open and transparent dialogue with the selling agent.”
Harvey agrees, saying a negotiation is a process.
“It’s not about throwing an offer out there and expecting the deal to be done,” he says. “Present your offer in a professional and considered manner, backed up with comparable sales, and there’s every chance it’ll be accepted, or at least open the door to positive negotiations.”
Harvey says transparency is important as it helps to dispel the perception of distrust that plagues the real estate industry.
“Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t trust real estate agents,” he says. “Buyers’ agents always strive to act professionally, and that extends not only to the client, but to the selling agent and their vendor.
“Ordinary buyers may make an offer and think the selling agent is going to shop it around. And I think we have to be cognisant of how this perception impacts the selling agent on the other side of the transaction.
“That’s why being transparent and honest is so important. Obviously hold your ground and represent your client but respect the processes of the selling agent and their vendor.”
Top tips to negotiating
Ask questions | Why is the vendor selling? What else should I know about the property? Knowing the property as intimately as the selling agent levels the playing field for negotiations.
Be open and transparent | You are a professional and so is the selling agent. Put your best foot forward and set the foundations for a mutually respectful relationship.
Respect the process | Some vendors might want to move quickly; others are more considered. Be respectful of each vendor’s process and avoid forcing a selling agent to adversely pressure their client.
Always in writing | Even if you have a verbal conversation about price with an agent, always prepare a written offer with terms, price and the solicitor’s details.