Listing Agent Retort: “I’ll Tell You Right After You Tell Me How High the Buyer is Willing to Go”

You (almost) never hear a listing agent (representing a Seller) say to a Buyer’s agent at the outset of negotiations: “let’s cut to the chase; what’s the most your Buyer will pay for my client’s property?”

So, why do Buyers’ agents — or at least inexperienced ones — feel emboldened to ask listing agents, “So, what’s your client’s real bottom line here?”

Or perhaps more to the point: what good listing agent — assuming they knew the answer — is going to spill?? (in fact, the three cards you never show in real estate negotiation are your client’s price, terms, and motivation).

“Lowish” vs. “Lowball”

You certainly can’t blame Buyers for verbally probing a Seller’s bottom line, prior to making a written offer.

Besides trying to flush out a motivated Seller, it’s about saving time: if the Seller isn’t amenable to a low offer, the would-be lowballer saves time writing it up (not 3 hours, but not 10 minutes, either ” especially if it’s accompanied by a real pre-approval letter).

Eventually, of course, the parties in a real estate deal arrive at each other’s bottom (and top) line. See, “The Key to Successful Negotiation: Getting to Yes? Or, “Getting to “No?”

That’s called “negotiation.”

But, you don’t start there.

P.S.: The only appropriate response to “would your Seller consider taking $___?” is this one:

“Put it in writing, and I’ll do my best to get a serious, prompt response.”

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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