Keep Your Emotions From Clouding Your Judgement

Let me start by saying that selling your own home is emotional. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Not only are you driving the separation between you and something that you’ve called home for years, but you’ve also put your blood sweat and tears into this home. Add to that, you’re dealing with buyers (and their agents) whose one goal in life is to get THE deal on their home of choice. That means hard negotiation tactics. Tactics I’ve seen:

  • Walking in and not showing an ounce of emotion. Leading the seller to believe the buyer isn’t interested.  This definitely makes buyers feel on edge.
  • Telling the seller his/her house is not price competitively given his/her research and that they are crazy for thinking otherwise.
  • And the one that hurts the most…telling you about every flaw they see as they walk through your home.

I’ve seen many others, but these I see most frequent.  All them poke at your anxiety (which is the buyers’ goal), but most of all, all can put you on the defensive.  “I’ve spent quality family time here!”  “I painted the walls myself and planted every flower in the yard!”  “This is a beautiful home!”

Case in point:

I just did a walk through of a FSBO home in San Diego.  I overheard a snarky agent (that’s a technical term) talking to his buyer telling the buyer that there were many ways they could decrement the current price in their offer and that the seller would be crazy not to take it.  “There’s a crack in the driveway.  The back walkway is uneven, which could all be related to foundation issues.  That could cost my client a fortune.  Also, that color paint it very unusual, we would probably want that changed before even considering an offer.  But we’ll talk about it.  We’ll get back to you IF we want to make an offer.”

The seller was incensed.  “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about!  My house is worth ten times what the neighbor’s house is worth.  This is a beautiful color!”

Later I spoke to the seller.  The buyer came back with an offer 20% lower than asking price.  The seller, with an indignant sniff, said he laughed at the agent and said they were moving on.  They didn’t even counter the offer!   Instead of listening and treating this like a business transaction, the seller turned emotional and lost out on what potentially could have been a solid sale.

This happens all the time.  There are a couple things I always do to avoid this:

  1. Know your ‘walk-away’ point and don’t walk away before that
    • Do some homework and come to a decision about what your ‘walk-away’ point will be.  The lowest price you’ll take based on everything you know about the comparables in your market and your personal situation.  It’s usually never the price you list your home at originally.  You also need to know what you’re willing to repair if a buyer requests it.
    • Having a ‘walk-away’ point helps in a couple ways.  If a buyer won’t go above a certain price point or is requesting repairs in the form of a price break that force you below that price point, you can ‘walk-away’ from the deal knowing you made an analytical decision vs. an emotional one.  And on the other hand, until that ‘walk-away’ point is reached, you need to force yourself to stay in negotiation, even if the buyer is not your favorite person or is not showing your desired level of appreciation for your home.  This makes the FSBO process and your decision-making analytical vs. emotional.  It’s easier said than done, but this works if you are disciplined about it!
  2. Know that everyone has different tastes and negotiating tactics
    • Buyers are looking for a deal and will do pretty much anything to pick apart your home.  Be prepared and know it’s about getting the best deal possible.  It’s not personal!
    • One trick I use is to jot down and translate the buyers’ negative remarks into dollars.  For example:  “There’s a crack in the driveway.”  I can assume that he will come back with a decrement to the price even though the crack is a minor blemish and nothing more.  Even paint comments like “The paint is chipped on the window frames.”  I will jot down all the comments and put a price tag against each one.  That way I’m prepared when the buyer offers a lower price or requests repairs as a contingency to the purchase.  I can often combat the decrements to price with realistic costs or reasons why the decrement is unjustifiable.  This provides a data-based counter offer vs. an emotion-based!
    • Bottom line; use the buyers’ negative comments and prickly negotiating tactics to your advantage!

The point is…everyone is emotional.  The goal is to make sure you balance that emotion with an analytical approach.  You’ll be far better of if you do!