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Negotiation is not for the faint hearted, and is more of an art form that requires skill and experience rather than a science. You don’t feel up for it, make sure to get some assistance.

The process

While comparables may be a starting point, the price at which a seller offers a property is often also based on wishful thinking, propaganda and ploy. Buyers, in turn, parry by deconstructing the price. They aim not merely to assess a dwelling’s fair value, but also to plumb a seller’s bottom line and vulnerabilities. How a price tracks with similar properties, how large and hasty any reduction is, and even how parsed or rounded a number is — all these are grist for concluding, rightly or not, whether a price is firm, desperate or a sign of painful dealings to come.

Offers and counter offers

When looking at the psychology of offers and counter offers, it can be handy to look toward those with experience. There are no hard and fast rules about how many offers you should make, but remember that a quick sale is always attractive to sellers, so try to use this as added value to your offer, if possible.

The asking price has been agonized over and likely set with a “buffer” for offers. Offers and counter offers are about finding out what this “buffer” is, and shaving off a little more. And of course, some would say that if you’re not making an offer you’re embarrassed about, you’re losing money.

Be careful, though. Too low an offer, and you risk offending the sellers – after all, you are bidding on one of their prized possessions. This can heighten their emotional attachment to a property, and make it hard to negotiate further.

Always put yourself in the shoes of the seller before arguing why your offer price is the right one. If possible, construct your case such that the seller’s feeling of loss is alleviated by a non-monetary benefit that you are prepared to include in your offer (for example: allowing the seller rent back the property he is selling you until they get the keys to their new home and they can organize their trip back home).

The bottom line: Remember than you should use your head, not your heart. Although that may not be easy, trying to factor out as much emotion as possible will always help you get a better deal.

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