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An Introduction to Buying and Selling Property

The way an offer is handled can have a great deal to do with the outcome of a property sale.

You want as much as you can get for your property but your buyer wants it for as little as possible. You want to buy as cheaply as possible but your seller wants as much as he or she can get. It is not a good start to a property transaction, but it is only human nature. From this inauspicious start there are only two options. The first is a stand off where neither party will budge on price - this can only be because one side or both are being unreasonable. The second option is to negotiate. The first option, the stand off, gets nowhere. The second means both buyer and seller end up with more or less what they want. The key to a successful property negotiation is not to make unreasonable demands.

Ill-advised buyers and sellers haggle. Informed buyers and sellers negotiate. Negotiation is about both parties coming out of the deal with what they want – perhaps not all that they want, but close enough to what they want. Both parties should end up reasonably happy. Negotiation isn’t just about price. It is also about timing and can involve fixtures and fittings, furniture and white goods. It might involve access to carry out remedial work before completion, or even renting back the property for a while after completion if necessary. The reasons can be many and varied but they can all have their place in a negotiation over price.

Whether you are buying or selling, first work out what your bottom line will be – the lowest offer you would take or the highest price you would pay. Then think about all that you would reasonably like to achieve – your wish list. ‘Reasonable’ is the operative word as nobody wants to open up a negotiation with someone who is being less than reasonable. Then listen to your buyer’s or seller’s point of view and be prepared to be flexible in order to get what you are really prepared to accept.

Try and keep principle out of the negotiation. Principle is all very noble but sometimes it is best to focus on where you are going rather than the niceties of getting there. If the other side is being mean and petty that does not mean you should be too. Often it is better to let your buyer or seller be small-minded - if it ultimately gets you what you want. Yes, it is annoying at the time and, yes, your urge may be to kick back. But usually it is better to resist that urge and rise above it.

Having made the deal do your very best to keep to it. No one likes it when another reneges on an agreement. It breeds a great deal of ill feeling – enough sometimes to blow a deal. At the very least it throws up other difficulties – often with several other parties if there is a chain of inter-related sales.

But sometimes a survey shows something unexpected and the deal may have to be adjusted. This may be unavoidable. Again it is best to accept that things happen and that reasonable behaviour on both sides will usually resolve these unforeseen difficulties.

Property transactions in England and Wales are unnecessarily complicated and protracted. This makes negotiation even more difficult. But stay reasonable, allow for the unexpected, be flexible and remain focused and you will, likely as not, end up with the price or the property you want.

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