By Robert Irwin
How do you feel about negotiating the sale of your home directly with a buyer?
Although some by-owner sellers feel perfectly comfortable with the idea, many find it unsettling. What if the buyer tells you they hate the appearance of your kitchen (which you just spent $35,000 upgrading!)? What if the buyers come in with a lowball offer? What if the buyers want you to handle all of the paperwork?
Selling by-owner you don't have an agent to cushion the relationship between you and the buyer. On the other hand, you do have the best knowledge of the product. After all, presumably you know your home inside and out better than anyone else. All of which is to say, you really don't have to sell the house. You just have to sell yourself.
How do you sell yourself to a home buyer?
As the seller, it's important to see things from the buyer's perspective. And as far as the buyer is concerned, you are automatically suspect. The buyer suspects that you will do anything and everything to sell that home including lying and cheating. The buyer sees you as the adversary. Therefore, the most important thing is to establish trust. Get that buyer to see you as a responsible person with whom it's safe to do business.
The way to win trust is to be trustworthy. It sounds simple, but it's easy to make a mistake. Here are four rules to help establish trust.
Don't say the house is always cool in summer and warm in winter. On some extremely hot and cold days, everyone knows the home's temperature will be extreme.
Don't say you never get bugs in the summer, or that the neighborhood is always quiet, or that there are no cracks anywhere in the home. If you make statements that on the surface are unrealistic, buyers will tend to think you're pushing too hard to sell... and maybe that's because you're covering something up.
DON'T INSULT THE BUYER
Keep things strictly on a business level. If the buyer says that your choice of color makes them nauseated, don't argue. Simply nod and say that everyone's taste is different.
Remember, as soon as you contradict the buyer, argue, or indicate what they are saying is wrong, it can be taken as an insult. And an insulted buyer simply won't want to deal with you.
DON'T HIDE DEFECTS
Defects have a way of coming out in the open. And if the buyers suspect that you're trying to conceal them, they'll never trust you on anything again.
DON'T LIE ABOUT THE PROPERTY OR THE DEAL
You tell the buyer you have clear title and you'll be able to close within two weeks, even though you know there's a claim against your title that will take at least a month to settle. When you can't close as specified on time, the buyer will learn of your lie. And you'll have lost his or her trust, and perhaps the deal.
BE CALM AND CONFIDENT
It's easy because you know you haven't exaggerated, gotten personal, hidden or lied about anything.
A buyer who trusts you will want to deal with you. He or she will be willing to go the extra mile when something goes wrong (as something always does). That buyer will believe you in negotiations. And as a result your deal will be better, easier and less frustrating.
Robert Irwin is the most prolific real estate writer in America having produced over 100 published books in the field. His TIPS & TRAPS McGraw-Hill series has sold well over a million copies and his FOR SALE BY OWNER KIT and FIND IT, BUY IT, FIX IT and other books have been strong sellers for Dearborn.
In addition Irwin writes a regular real estate column for The Wall Street Journal online and is introducing a new weekly column for Owners.com.
Irwin has sold his own property "by owner" and during over 30 years in the business has been a broker and consultant to lenders, agents, buyers and sellers.