There are some things a buyer should not tell a listing agent (agent representing the seller). A good buyer’s agent will coach you a little as to what to say and not to say during a showing. If you are unrepresented, it is more difficult to avoid the trap of having a long winded conversation with an inquisitive listing broker. With a buyer’s broker representing you during the showing, you are more likely to be left alone or the listing agent may not even be there (ideal).
But for showings with the listing agent present, (unfortunately the majority of home showing appointment in Boston, Brookline and Newton), here are the top things you should never ever say that will weaken your negotiating for home price.
- Don’t tell the listing agent what other homes you are considering. “We just came from 12 Blueberry Lane and we’re going to 43 Cranberry Drive next.” NO! This is as good as telling the listing agent your price range and much of what your needs and wants. Furthermore, you make it easier for her to compare and contrast the properties, which you should do on your own, with your broker. You are setting yourself up for a sales pitch you chose to avoid when hiring a buyer’s agent.
- Do not share any financial information. This may seem obvious but you’d be surprised how much information you are willing to give up when someone simply asks. It’s human nature. Even if you are an all cash buyer, shush! Pre-approved with 30% down, shush! Still in the process of the pre-approval, double shush! Your agent and mortgage broker work hard to keep all this information confidential, please do the same.
- Do not talk about your price range. That is a wonderful way to reduce your negotiation leverage. Your price range represents what you believe you can afford, and if the listing broker knows you can afford more than you offer, it is easier to squeeze a little bit more out of you. The negotiation will be about affordability rather than value.
- Don’t say you love the house, or even appear as much. The best negotiation card a buyer has is the ability to walk away from home. If you go gaga for a home and make it known, the listing broker will know you want it and you are likely to pay more.
- Do not discuss the timing of your move. This is another negotiation card, so don’t give it up. First you want to know the seller’s plan in order to figure out if you can accommodate it – and probably save thousands. Inflexibility is worth money – and the greater the inflexibility, the more money the opposite side of the transaction saves. If you have very rigid plans, especially if you have another home on the market, keep it to yourself until you know the seller’s plans.
When you go to a showing with a listing broker present, treat it as the first step to negotiation, because it is. Don’t share your personal information or excitement about a property. And don’t be offended if your astute buyer’s agent interrupts you mid-sentence when you are talking to the listing agent. She’s saving you serious money!
(If you are in the early stages of searching for a buyer’s agent, check out my post for William Raveis Real Estate’s blog, Five Questions to Ask a Buyer’s Agent Before You Hire“).