see all cities »


5 negotiating tips for buyers & sellers

Written by Andrea Bremner


Everything in life is negotiable. We negotiate all the time, we negotiate bedtimes with our kids, curfews with our parents, what movie to go see with our partner, where to go out that night with our friends… the list goes on and on. The only time we get a little squeamish about negotiation is when it really matters; when it comes to spending our hard-earned money on a product.

When it comes to buying things there is almost always some wiggle. When selling things you could find it hard to stay focused and not take things personally. Here are my tips for making the most of the wiggle room and staying calm, cool and collected.

For buyers

For sellers

1. Be reasonable

Read: no low balls! That guy selling his giant sectional couch in mint condition for $250 won’t be impressed with your offer of $50, oh! and you need delivery too. It is a waste of your time and his so don’t bother.

That being said if someone has way overpriced something; go in with a REASONABLE offer and see what happens….

1. Don’t be emotional

This is a business transaction, nothing more. You are trying to get the best price and buyers are trying to get the best deal. It isn’t personal so don’t take it personally.

Don’t be emotional about your pricing either; if it isn’t at or near fair market value (read: REASONABLE PRICE!) then it won’t sell. Your elbow grease equity will only get you so much in return (if you do a crap job can sometimes devalue what you are selling). And expect no return on your emotional equity, people simply will not overpay for your rusted out ’76 VW Rabbit because it holds so many memories of fun times with your friends and it was your first car and you hate to have to sell it and….

2. Consider that value and worth are different things

If things from somewhere like Ikea are hard to get where you live then the value of that item suddenly becomes much higher than what it is worth. This is especially true in Victoria where things from Ikea on the can sometimes be sold for almost what you would pay for it new. Once the headache (not to mention expense) of taking the ferry over to the mainland and then assembling it yourself is over, you’re left with the realization that paying $100 for a coffee table that’s only worth $50 seems like a pretty good deal.

2. You can’t have your cake and eat it too

If you want something out of your house fast; price it cheap and watch it disappear within a few hours. If you want top dollar, price it reasonably and wait for the right buyer. You can’t have both, top dollar and fast almost never happen.

3. Set a cap for how much you are willing to pay and stick to it

Pretty simple concept; but requires a lot of will power. This will help you sever the emotional attachment (because you have absolutely fallen in LOVE with that blender!) so you don’t overpay and bust your budget.

3. Consider the lowest possible price you will accept before getting into the negotiating process

Just like a buyer deciding the highest they will go; this serves to make the process easier, less stressful and much more clear-cut.

4. Be prepared to walk away

If a seller sees you are emotionally attached you have lost all bargaining power; at that point forget negotiating and just pay full fare and stop wasting everyone’s time. If you’re prepared to walk away from the deal at any time you are on good ground. A Realtor friend once told me he sees the deal of the century once a week. If the deal falls apart there will be another tomorrow…

4. Be patient

When negotiating the person with the most time and the most patience typically gets the best end of the deal. If you try to rush through negotiations you will make mistakes and bad decisions. Plus taking your time may make the buyer improve their offer and close the deal to avoid you receiving a better deal in the meantime.

5. Ask for what you want

What is the worst that can happen? They say no? (see tip #4) this even works in retail stores… want 10% off? ask for it. BUT… as in all the above tips BE REASONABLE!! you are not going to get the season’s latest bag that just came in stock at 90% off.

5. Shut up and listen

The best negotiators do a lot of listening. A good ratio is 30/70, talk 30% of the time and listen 70%. Ask open-ended questions and let the buyer tell you everything you need to know about how to go about negotiating with them. If you hear lots of keywords like “LOVE” and “HAVE TO HAVE IT!” you will be laughing all the way to the bank.


Leave a Reply