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The Back Burner Negotiation Tactic

Using the back burner negotiation tactic can be an effective way to stall a negotiation that is not going favorably for you. And in so doing, you may bring pressure to bear on the opposite side of the table to make concessions that will bring your side of the table back into the real estate negotiation.

As an example, consider that your buyer has made an offer that includes having the seller cover some of the closing costs. The seller’s agent has countered on price, but not addressed the closing costs. You can put the issue of price on the back burner by saying something similar to, “Well, I am not sure that we can even talk about price until we know that the closing costs can be covered.”

If the back burner negotiation tactic is being used against you, an effective counter is to insist that the point must be decided now. For example, “I understand that you want to discuss closing costs, but I simply cannot do that until we build some consensus on the price.”

The negotiation above has reached a stalemate, with neither side moving in a favorable direction. The next negotiation technique is to engage in an informal what-if discussion. Posing hypothetical questions can often elicit responses that help guide you to your next negotiation point. The buyer’s agent might say “What if my buyer was willing to go to $XXX, would your seller consider paying $YYY in closing costs?”