How knowing your sellers can improve your negotiation skills

Has the house had previous offers? What is the seller's timeline? What are their non-negotiables?

Remember from the previous article, “7 steps to a successful negotiation,” that negotiating is simply reaching an acceptable agreement between parties who have different needs. Agents must find out what’s important to each party so they can give and take on both sides in such a way that everyone feels satisfied.

The following points are relevant for you if you’re the listing agent or the buyer’s agent. Just keep in mind what you are able to disclose or not disclose, but ask good questions and take good notes.

Benjamin Franklin famously said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

What is the seller’s motivation?

Try to find out why the seller is moving. Do they want to move or do they have to move? Have they already moved? Generally, a seller who has already bought their next home is more motivated than one who is only moving if they haven’t found their the next property. Ask the listing agent about the situation. Do you know the motivation of your own clients whose listings are active right now? If not, find out. It could help you find the perfect buyer for their property.

What is the seller’s ideal closing and possession date?

Does the seller have a specific time frame that is important to them? Do they need a lease-back or a unique closing time frame? Variables like building a home or relocating across the country could add to their concerns about how timing will work.

Besides price, what is important to the seller?

Do they have a stainless steel fridge they just can’t part with? Would they rather include all the furniture with the sale? Are they taking the hot tub and pool table? These details are important, not only to the buyers but to you as the listing agent. It could change the way you approach the negotiation regardless of which party you represent.

Has the seller had other offers and turned them down?

If so, what was wrong with those offers? How can you win this time? Do they have unrealistic expectations? If you aren’t the listing agent, see what information they will share with you about previous offers.

Has the home been in contract previously and returned to active marketing?

What caused that? Inspection, condition, appraisal or financing issues? If it was inspection issues, were they resolved? Any of those setbacks can be used as leverage in your negotiation.

Is this a competing offer situation?

Negotiation skills are key in a multiple-offer situation. How many offers are there? If there aren’t multiple offers, what is the showing activity? Does the listing agent have interest from their own buyers? What will it take to be the winning bid? Make sure to clearly communicate this with your buyers.

Is there a contingency plan

If you represent the seller, talk with your clients about the plan for the property if it doesn’t sell or doesn’t sell for a certain price. Is keeping the home an option for them? Or, is this a must-sell situation?

These tips will help you get to know your sellers better, whether they are your clients or you represent the potential buyers. Refer back to the article, “7 steps to a successful negotiation,” for more tips on getting deals to the closing table.

Tim and Julie Harris host the nation’s #1 podcast for real estate professionals. https:// has new podcasts every day. Tim and Julie have been real estate coaches for more than two decades, coaching the top agents in the country through different types of markets. to get started for FREE today.