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How to Counter in a Negotiation without Giving a Number

Real estate negotiation offers can vary widely in what agents consider to be reasonable, but typically, a reasonable offer is one that is both credible and defensible based on market data.  When you find yourself offered a starting position that is unreasonably high-ball or low-ball, the best strategy might be to counter without giving a figure.  First, ask the other agent to explain the basis for their starting position.  (See also, Anchors in Negotiations)

If the opening bid seems indefensible, counter with a simple statement that indicates your dissatisfaction without tipping your hand about what number you want to see.  Remember, you might unintentionally give away a figure that is higher or lower than the other party expected – to the disadvantage of your client.  It is best to use phrases such as, “All reasonable offers will be considered.”  Or, “You’ll have to do better than that.”

If needed, you could counter with a statement that focuses on contract details rather the price, such as, “Are you expecting _____ to be included?”  Or, “We need to make allowances for _____.”

If the offer is still not defensible, you could counter with an encouraging statement such as, “Have your client take another look and think it over.”  In this way you are still negotiating favorably and leaving the door open for them to return with a more reasonable figure.

If these strategies do not get the negotiation moving in a more reasonable direction, consider stating a range instead of a figure.  State the lowest part of your range as the absolute lowest figure you can accept and the highest part of the range being slightly higher than your ideal figure.  This way, any figure that falls in between should begin a successful negotiation for both parties.