Real Estate Negotiating Principles

“Whomever speak first [in a negotiation] . . . loses.”


“Whomever proposes “splitting the difference” in a negotiation stands to get the better bargain.”

—Corollary, Ross Kaplan

Veteran negotiators will attest to the truth of the first statement:  if you speak first, you never find out if the other side would have offered/accepted (even) more advantageous terms.

It’s also the case that the more (over)eager party can’t restrain themselves, and gives that away by ” yup ” talking too much and/or too soon.

But I’ve also found the second principle to be (mostly) true.

The following is an exaggerated, fictional exchange ” but serves to illustrate the usual dynamic.

Buyer:  Here’s my written offer of $250k for your $500k (listed) home.
Seller:  Sorry, that won’t work.  I’m countering $485k instead.
Buyer:  That’s still too high.  How about we split the difference?

To be sure, there are situations where splitting the difference is an appropriate ” and fair ” resolution to a negotiating impasse.

But only when the deck isn’t already stacked in favor of one side or the other.

See also, “Negotiating Tips.”

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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