Flushing Out the Seller’s Bottom Line (or trying to)

Listing agents (representing the Seller) know that there are three cards you never show the other side: 1) the client’s bottom-line price; 2) their preferred purchase agreement terms (closing date, down payment, earnest money, inspection contingency, etc.); and 3) their motivation.

Which doesn’t mean that Buyers don’t try to find out.

One of the most common ploys, in the early, informal stages of negotiating, is for a would-be Buyer to verbally ask (through their agent), “Would the Seller take $___ for their home?”

Verbal Probe

The problem with such a hypothetical question is that it flushes out the Seller’s price, but doesn’t obligate the Buyer to buy.

If the Seller answers “Yes,” the chances are good that any resulting offer ” assuming there is one ” will come in below the just-tested price.

Negotiating 101

All of which is why an experienced agent will parry the question by asking the Buyer, “are you offering $___?”

If they answer affirmatively, their next sentence is, “Great! Put it in writing.”

If the Buyer subsequently makes an offer at that price, and the Seller agrees to it, there’s a deal.

However, if no offer is forthcoming, the Seller hasn’t revealed their position.

See also, “Buyer’s Agent: “So, What’s the Seller’s Real Bottom Line??”; “Is the Seller’s Price Soft? Two Ways to Find Out“; “Written vs. Verbal Counter-Offers“; “The Key to Successful Negotiating: “Getting to Yes?” Or, “Getting to No?”; and “Not-So-Done Deals: The Downside of Verbal Negotiations ” & Purchase Agreements with an Undotted “i” or Uncrossed “t”.

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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