Had me at hello
The famous ‘You had me at hello’ scene, from ‘the 1996 Jerry Macguire movie (Gracie Films, TriStar Pictures, screen shot).
  • As the old movie said, 'you had me at hello'
  • Negotiation starts as soon as you start talking with a real estate agent
  • Be careful what you (and your family) reveal. Act dumb to be smart.

In his eighth article in the series, investor, founder, author and media commentator Bushy Martin discusses the science and art behind property negotiation.

In the previous pieces, the topic was introduced by explaining how you may need to change your outlookbuild good rapport by using Mirroring and Labelling techniques and the perceived power position, which you may feel is tipped against you, why cash is king and how to know the prevailing conditions.


As soon as you say hello to the real estate agent, the negotiation has begun. Experienced buyers know this, and they know what to reveal and what to conceal.

Remember that agents are expert negotiators who do this every day of the week, so as soon as they have seen you or started talking to you, they are sizing you up and they’re asking you qualifying questions, even when it seems like they are just chatting casually about you and your family.

Sales reps want to work out if you’re a serious buyer first, and then they want to find out as much information as they can to craft the negotiation when it comes to that time.

Don’t be surprised if they suggest that you and your partner ‘walkthrough, and have a look at the property!’ so they can spend some time chatting to your kids.

Your kids don’t know what’s going on, and so it’s not uncommon for a seasoned sales campaigner to ask your kids lots of leading questions — for example, are you thinking of moving, or moving schools?

And the kids are quite willing to give all the information, and the agent is banking on this for the later negotiating stage.

Smart is dumb and dumb is smart

Next is to keep in mind that when it comes to property (along with most other negotiations), ‘smart is dumb and dumb is smart’.

This is a version of ‘when strong act weak, and when weak act strong.’

What I mean by this is that you don’t want to come across too smart or too clever when it comes to dealing with the selling agent or the owner, for nobody ever wants to help a know-it-all.

However, if a person comes across as warm, friendly, humble, down to earth and curious, most of us are happy to help them and give them more information.

So when it comes to negotiating, you want to come across as ‘dumb and friendly’, because the agent will feel more inclined to give you more information. Then, if you’re smart about hearing what they have to say, you might get some key intel, which will help you to craft your offer.

So in negotiations, keep your ego out of it.

Remember, you’ve got two ears and one mouth and you should use them in that proportion when negotiating. This means twice as much listening as talking. Wise people talk when they have something to say, but fools talk because they have to say something.


Next article: The knockout offer.

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