One area of estate agency work which varies wildly in quality is the handling of offers. The best agents have a clear strategy on how best to deal with these situations in order to ensure successful negotiation is achieved.
It is important to consider what negotiation really means in the context of estate agency – one relevant definition might be “The bringing about of an agreement between a number of parties by a third party on unambiguous and mutually satisfactory terms”
Preparation for putting the offer forward is key. Tempting though it is to get straight on the phone to try and get a sale together, some minutes spent paving the way for the conversation pays off massively.
Firstly, who should make the call? Choosing the right person for this task has a direct impact on the outcome – the person with the best rapport and the best chance of securing the right outcome should be the default setting. In some cases this might be the least experienced member of staff or even the mortgage adviser. The vital research here is to ensure you know the clear motivation of the client – people take action to avoid penalties or achieve goals. Do we always know what the aims of our clients are? In other words, can we reinforce how their acceptance of an offer from the right buyer will help them achieve their key objective. These will vary hugely from vendor to vendor but will include getting children into the right schools, being closer to an elderly relative or specialist health care, reducing the cost and the time of their commute or ensuring they can afford to live in their home without undue financial concerns.
It has always struck me as particularly odd that agents put offers forward to clients when the negotiators are oblivious to the amount of outstanding mortgage and equity on the property. An offer of &225,000 on a house on at &250,000 is likely to be better received by a client with a &40,000 mortgage than one with a &240,000 mortgage after all.
Next, who should the negotiator speak to? Inevitably, if the vendors are a couple, one of them may well be more motivated, receptive, open-minded and/or intelligent than the other – it is this party the agent should contact.
Does the negotiator have an absolutely unambiguous grasp on what the amount of the offer is and what the offerer is expecting to get for that amount? I have witnessed so many sales fall through over squabbles about fixtures and fittings further down the line because they were not clarified at the outset.
Other preparatory work that influences the outcome would include but not be limited to:
· What is the buyer’s specific timescale?
· What is motivating the buyer to move?
· What is the buyer’s specific position?
· What price did the buyer initially register up to?
· How far has the buyer got with arranging their mortgage?
· What amount of mortgage are they intending taking on the purchase?
· Did the buyer hint/state that they would go higher?
· What have they previously offered on?
· Have they seen anything else that they are considering?
· What level of choice is out there if they don’t get this property?
As with many things in life, the level of preparation undertaken links directly to the quality of the outcome. There are a vast number of other questions that should be posed prior to putting the offer forward – too many to list here but the basic premise is unquestionable - a few minutes taken to pave the way for the discussion of the offer can make or break the sale.