12 Awesome Real Estate Negotiation Tips for Home Buyers

Negotiation can turn a bad deal into a good deal, turn an undesirable house into the perfect new home, and save you plenty of money. The final agreement between buyer and seller is key, providing a counterbalance to judge the entire value of your new home. Your buying agent will be skilled in negotiation, but there are some important things that you, as a buyer, can do on your own to make sure you get the best deal. Here are 12 tips:

1. Do your research
Research is 90% of the negotiation process. Before you begin communicating with any agents or sellers, you should gather information on your own. Knowledge is power, and the more you can learn about the local pricing information and value of features (such as fireplace, views, utilities, location) the more leverage you will have during negotiation. Before you step out the door, buckle down and take some notes. You never know what information will come in handy during negotiation.

2. Set your boundaries in advance
Sit down alone, without an agent, and run through your personal finances to determine your “absolute” spending limit. Check and double check your calculations, and have confidence in your boundaries. Your spending limit must be based on your finances, not the negotiation process. Once you have a clear figure in mind, set it as your firm limit, and don’t budge.

3. Declare your comfortable spending limit
Once you have your absolute limit, take off about 5-10% and call this your “comfortable” spending limit. This is the limit you should communicate to your agent so they can help you negotiate. Your agent is your friend, and they are motivated to get you the best deal, but they are also business people. Their main goal is to make a sale, and sometimes an agent has more incentive to sell quickly rather than hold out for the best price. Only let them know your comfortable limit, adding that you might be willing to spend more for an exceptional home at an unbeatable deal.

4. Get pre-approved
Before you begin your search, get pre-approved for a home loan. If you’re “ready to buy” you can get the attention of sellers itching to sell quickly. You’ll move up on their priority list and this could help you gain leverage when negotiations begin. You’ll come off as a no-nonsense buyer who’s ready for action-if the deal is good enough.

5. Don’t be emotional
When looking at a new house, or talking with an agent, try not to appear overly emotional. Showing emotions can send subtle (or not so subtle) signals that you wouldn’t necessarily want to convey. If you’re seeing a new home and you’re excited because it’s just what you’re looking for, appear “interested” rather than excited. Excitement, or any display of a lack of calm rationality, can be a sign that your spending limit might be as flexible as your feelings. Along the same lines, if you’re unimpressed with a home, try to avoid criticizing it. Appearing too negative will send the message that you could be a pain to work with, or it could offend the seller.

6. Ask questions about every house you visit
So you’ve found a house that you’re interested in and you need to ask more questions, but you want to avoid coming off as “too” interested. How do you get the information you need while remaining aloof? The best way to not be obvious about your enthusiasm is to make sure you ask the same important questions at each house you visit. Make sure you come off as an inquisitive, diligent, and methodical buyer every time you view a house. When you find a house that excites you, you can gather all the information you need without tipping off the seller.

7. Learn about the seller
The more information you have, the more power you have in negotiations. If you can learn specifics about the seller, you can gain insight into their needs and potentially gain precious leverage. Why are they selling? Are they desperate to sell fast, because their life has taken an unexpected turn? Are they in a good position to wait patiently for the best deal? What kind of a deal are they looking for, and how can you give them what they need while still getting what you need? The more you understand about their circumstances, the more you’ll be able to spot where your expectations overlap with theirs. The best deals are found within the center of the Venn diagram.

8. Don’t rush
Many people fear that the house they want will get sold to another buyer before they have a chance to negotiate, so they feel that it’s best to make an offer early. Many real estate experts agree that this worry is often unfounded. If you’re interested in a house, the seller will know, and even if they have other offers, they will still have incentive to give each potential buyer proper consideration. Waiting to make an offer will always make the offer more valuable. Always wait a few days before making your initial offer. When you finally come around with your offer, the buyer will be relieved, and you’ll find yourself in a stronger position.

9. Have a strong initial offer
Many people underestimate the importance of an initial offer. Even though the final price will be determined through negotiation, the initial offer plays a huge role in informing the price. A good rule of thumb is to offer 20-30% lower than your comfortable spending limit. Keep in mind that if your offer is too low it can offend the seller, and if your offer is too high it will end up dramatically increasing the final price. When you make a low initial offer, always give the seller a good reason, such as the local market, your budget, or other factors in the home’s value. This will show that you’re basing your offer upon logic, and you’re inviting further conversation.

10. Be reluctant to increase your offer
Make sure the agent “convinces” you to increase your offer. Always be reluctant to increase, and only agree when a strong argument has been made. It never hurts to wait. Avoid accepting offers to meet halfway. The final sale price isn’t decided by the splitting your offer with the seller’s asking price. Both offers should be treated as stepping-stones on your path to the final sale price. Make sure to crawl your offer up slowly and carefully.

11. Keep a bargaining chip
You’ll be negotiating more than just a sale price. The terms of the agreement will determine things like move-in date, closing costs, inspections, included furniture and features, as well as other incentives. Early on in the negotiation, hold on to one aspect of the agreement that you don’t necessarily need. Don’t let on that the issue isn’t important to you, but hold onto it as if it’s necessary. Near the end of the negotiation, you can concede on the issue as a final bargaining chip. This will help give you one final push toward closing the deal.

12. Be confident, positive, and respectful
Start off your search by reminding yourself that you’re on the path to your perfect home. Have confidence in yourself and your ability to work within any situation, stay positive, and get what you need, no matter what unforeseen challenges come your way. Remembering that you’re dealing with people, with families, and you’re all about to make one of the most important decisions of your lives. A “good deal” isn’t good unless everybody gets what they need. You’re not just searching for a new home; you’re searching for the perfect circumstance, the perfect deal. At the end of your path lies your new life. You’ll help plenty of people along the way, and many people will help you. Make the best of your situation, and enjoy your new home!

Understanding the Alaskan Past, Present and Future Through Its Fisheries

The tradition of fishing has been very strong in Alaska for centuries and centuries, practically ever since the native Inuit communities set themselves up in the area permanently. While civilizations farther south were engaging in agriculture and even livestock raising, the native Alaskan communities were focusing practically all of their efforts on how to harvest the products of the sea. Through this long and toilsome process that was built upon and refined across countless generations, a strong respect for the delicate balance of marine ecosystems was developed and a wealth of knowledge was accumulated-knowledge that continues to be applied to this very day, albeit conditioned and altered by the presence of state of the art technology.

All was not well for the fisheries of Alaska, however, as heavy commercial fishing operations began to be carried out in Alaskan waters in the beginning of the 20th century. The tradition of fishing that had been established and venerated by the native population in the area was casually cast aside by unscrupulous seafood tycoons coming from other parts of the nation, a development that was hardly surprising given the fact that Alaska wasn’t even a state yet, but rather a final frontier being trampled alternately by American, Canadian and Russian interests. All of that would change, however, and the damage would be more than undone when Alaska acquired statehood in 1959-and the tradition of fishing sustainably and responsible was enshrined in the nascent state constitution.

No other state has taken the issue of sustainable fisheries to such extremes as is the case with Alaska, and it is an example that ought to be emulated the world over. Following the regrettable happenings of the early 20th century (described above), Alaska managed to turn itself into a place of outstandingly healthy and voluminous seafood species stocks, uncontaminated waters, and healthy spawning/breeding grounds. At present, there isn’t a single species of Alaska seafood that is in danger of becoming extinct! That’s good business for today and it will certainly be good business for the future of Alaska, which depends on the ability of large commercial fishers and small community fishers to continue harvesting the waters together, responsibly divvying up the generous gifts of Mother Nature and further developing the tradition of fishing that makes Alaska such a unique place.

When Presenting, Stay Within Your Time Limit

When you’re giving a presentation, it’s crucial that you don’t go over the time limit.

Whether you’ve set it yourself or have agreed to a time limit set by the meeting organizer, you need to prepare so that you can cover your topic within that time limit. No one will usually complain if you end a minute early, but the moment you go past your time limit, people will get restless and impatient.

It’s disrespectful to ignore the time limit. If you go over by ten minutes, what you’re really saying to the audience is, “what I have to say is so important that I really don’t care what it is that you’re missing while you sit here and listen to me.” And that’s not the message that you want to send to your audience and it certainly won’t help you keep their attention.

(Yes, the situation is different if you are running a discussion, negotiation or brainstorming session where everyone decides that more time is needed. But what I’m talking about here is a presentation where you have a fixed amount of time and a fixed amount of information to convey within that time limit.)

Practice

The best way to determine how long it will take to deliver your content is to practice delivering it and time yourself, particularly if it’s the first time you’ve given this presentation.

There is no magic formula about how long it takes to present a certain number of slides. It depends on how much information is on the slides, how long you take to explain it and whether you answer questions during your presentation or at the end. I’ve seen people spend an hour on one slide. I’ve also seen them deliver twenty slides in three minutes.

Cut out what you don’t need

Focus on what the audience needs to know, rather than everything you could possibly tell them. Eliminate anything that’s not related to your message. If it doesn’t support or help the audience understand your message, eliminate it..

Keep extra material in your notes in case you get a question about it. You can also send it to people before or after the presentation, but don’t clutter your presentation with extraneous information that wastes time.

This is a difficult part of the process, especially if you’re an expert in your field. There’s so much that you could say and that you want to share, but you don’t have the time. So you have to be careful at choosing which facts, stories, examples, data, that you’re going to share and which ones you’re not.

Acknowledge that you are not covering everything

During your presentation, you can say, “in the interest of time, I’m not going to go into detail [on the design of this experiment, the process by which gathered this data, etc.]. If you’re interested, see me afterwards and I’ll share it with you.”

If you stay within your time limit when you’re presenting, the audience is more likely to pay attention and remember your message.