Real Estate Reality • 02-15-12 | Print |  E-mail
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Wednesday, 15 February 2012 14:46


Trash Talkin’ Buyers Try

To Score Lower Prices

Negative dialogue typically hurts negotiations, alienates sellers

Smart house hunters understand that if they appear too eager about a specific property, they may lose negotiating power. Listing agents typically hear comments such as “it’s nice” or “OK.” Increasingly, however, we’re hearing dramatically different dialogue.

Trash talk.

To state the obvious up front, listing agents usually work with sellers to enhance their homes and maximize potential. Some sellers cooperate, ending up with homes sure to impress potential buyers. Others… not so much.


In every case, however, we help sellers determine appropriate asking prices based on current condition in relationship to comparable homes in the area. If the home is in great shape and shows well, we ask more. Poor condition… less. Bottom line — pricing reflects current market value for similar homes plus improvements or minus issues.


While most buyers seem to understand this, there’s a group that seems to think that they can take perceived issues and subtract the cost of remedies off the price. They believe that the more issues they can point out, the more they can knock off the price. Therefore, they go through homes loudly pointing out issues and making derogatory comments designed to justify their position.


I’ve even heard them suggest that they’ll have to replace perfectly good flooring because they don’t like the color, have to remodel the kitchen because it’s not modern enough and so on…thinking that they can take the cost of potential upgrades off the price because the house doesn’t currently “meet their needs or expectations.”



While I understand the logic behind trash talk, there are some serious flaws with this reasoning:


1. Any competent listing agent will have already identified issues with the seller and factored them into the price. In other words, the issues are already subtracted — buyers don’t get to subtract them again.


2. This tactic usually alienates sellers and listing agents. Not wise. Ticked-off sellers are usually less willing to cooperate and will often dig in their heels when dealing with unrealistic buyers.


3. When negotiating, sugar always works better than vinegar — you’ll get a lot further with positive win-win negotiating than with negative tactics.


The underlying premise is that if a buyer can point out enough issues, they can lowball their offer and score. Problem is, just like baseball, you have to get on base to score and, in reality, trash talkin’ buyers usually strike out every time.



Carl Medford is a licensed Realtor with Prudential California Realty in Castro Valley and a licensed general contractor. This article is sponsored by the Central County Marketing Association at



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